The map will vary, but that’s not the choice you are making – that’s the territory you are playing on and must adapt to.
During the game:
Slipstream: Moving an extra space forward – or being pulled forward by the riders in front is a great way to boost your movement during the game. It’s also the key way to close down breakaways. Try to predict and land one gap behind your opponent; even better, end your movement one gap behind your other rider – the slip stream will move you up that last space! Other players will be trying to do this, so you better watch out for it.
Getting Tired? No worries!: Exhaustion is bad, but only if you take too much. Too much exhaustion will lead to late game hands of only two point movements. If you are left with no option but two points, you will quickly get caught. Spread the exhaustion between your riders or between you and others. You will need to lead at some point though, so whilst it can’t be all you, there will be a time to accept it and push out into the lead.
De-optimising: The counter to point one above is that you can predict where players may land – dropping into that gap between their riders denies them that extra point of movement and keeps you in front. This is the second best way to frustrate the opponents!
Blocking: The single best way to frustrate the opponent is to move up to the same space as your other rider, or as another player who went earlier in the turn. Two riders in the same row will block a player landing there – this might cut short their move by a point or more if multiple rows are blocked. This is worst when it blocks them at the top of the hill – you can slipstream forward and they get left taking exhaustion and being capped in their next move!
Boosts & Uphill Struggle: Up and down hills can be predictable – players aiming to go the max five points up but only off five point cards, and players using low value cards downhill to go five points. However, this makes you predictable – allowing players to block you at the top of the hill or to slipstream on the downhills. Great options including attacking with high cards of the downhill to start a breakaway, slipstreaming other players off of the last downhill space (so they lose the benefit next round), or rushing to the uphill and ending on the space before so that you can minimise the turns that are caped.
Inside Corner: At the end, ties are split by the player on the inside corner – i.e. in a straight race between those two players, the one that was leading last turn wins the race. If you think it’s between just two riders, this makes the early attack the likely winner. You take away the risk of the highest card not making it to your hand in the last turn, potential leaves the other player in a separate group drawing exhaustion, and gives you the edge in the finish. Watch out for a player breaking away in that last turn therefore!
Starting the Attack: Starting the attack to the finish should be calculated. You want to breakaway and not get caught. If you end up with the pack closing you down then there will be players who slipstreamed / closed down without using all their attack cards and they will have the edge at the end. Some early attacks can work but normally a breakaway of 2-3 riders is needed; even if that’s split with another player, you can still make the most of it. If you are the minority in a breakaway though, you might want to deliberately help the peloton catch up! Normally the last corner is the place to attack but watch out for chances to breakaway earlier, or for hills on the finish that need mid range cards to complete.
Breakaway: Managing a breakaway is tough in the base game. Playing with two players controlling two teams makes this easier, but assuming you are in a group of four you want to watch out that (a) you switch the lead and (b) you keep attacking after the initial break. If you don’t switch the lead then one player will drop out as they take too many exhaustion cards – that can be the bridge that gets other riders back in. Continuing the attack is key as well otherwise the uphill and downhill sections can start to bring the group back together. If you see the breakaway go – look for these hills to plan an attack and close the gap (or join the lead group!)
One and Only: Lastly, don’t forget that only the first rider to cross the line matters – if you finished first and last, you win. Having two riders in second and third may seem impressive, but it means that you didn’t optimise for one rider to win the game. Keep this in mind when taking exhaustion – and plan the route when thinking about which rider will be best placed to win.