Riding as fast as you could for as long as you could was the main tactic in the early days of road racing when Grand Tours could be won by hours. Now a minute’s delay thanks to a puncture could ruin a rider’s chances over a three-week race and the sport is described as nothing less than chess on wheels. The intricacies and complexities of cycling are what makes it so appealing: an eye for opportunity and a quick mind are just as crucial to success as a ‘big engine’ or good form. So how do you win a bike race? How do you cope with crosswinds, cobbles, elbows-out sprints, weaving your way through a teeming peloton? Cossins takes us on to the team buses to hear pro cyclists and directeurs sportifs explain their tactics: when it went right, when they got it wrong – from sprinting to summits, from breakaways to bluffing.