help: new to bicycle racing

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Telford, May 27, 2003.

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  1. Telford

    Telford Guest

    I've been watching race for quite some time but still don't understand parts of what's really
    happening or what's the announcer is saying. Can you explain some of them? I don't really race,
    dont' even ride that much, thus the lack of understanding.

    1) a pursuit group of say, 5, riders, chasing the leader. the announcer says "but no one is
    cooperating" Question: what's meant by cooperating, what would I see happening on TV if they were
    indeed cooperating.

    2) a rider from a team "leads out" his team-mate (the main rider of his team) towards the final
    sprint and drops out to the side when he's all out of energy. Why do the main rider need to be
    led out towards the final sprint?

    3) a small group of riders, why is it the front rider is said to be "doing all the work" is it that
    difficult to be in front.

    4) if for e.g., Heras is taking Armstrong up a climb, is it more mental help that he is providing or
    is there some physical advantage of following somebody.

    5) "rider A and his mates decides to drop rider B" how is this drop accomplished (other than just
    sprinting away, is there something else"?

    6) if someone is right in the middle of a big peleton and needs to go somewhere (anywhere for
    whatever purpose) how do they get out of there?

    I think I will enjoy watching the race even more if I understood some of these things. Thank you.
     
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  2. Bobb Head

    Bobb Head Guest

    It helps to understand that there are two main forces working against a cyclist: air resistance
    (drag) and gravity. Drag is a determining factor on the flats, but gravity dominates on climbs. So
    understanding that...

    In article <[email protected]>, [email protected]
    (Telford) wrote:

    > I've been watching race for quite some time but still don't understand parts of what's really
    > happening or what's the announcer is saying. Can you explain some of them? I don't really race,
    > dont' even ride that much, thus the lack of understanding.
    >
    > 1) a pursuit group of say, 5, riders, chasing the leader. the announcer says "but no one is
    > cooperating" Question: what's meant by cooperating, what would I see happening on TV if they
    > were indeed cooperating.

    ... You would see "cooperating" riders sharing the task of riding at the front. Drag is reduced
    considerably (<20%) for anyone behind the lead rider, and going slower is, obviously, easier than
    going faster. In your hypothetical group of 5 riders working together, you would often see two lines
    of riders, with three riders in one line going a little faster than the two riders in the other
    line. Once the front rider in the fast line is clear, he will move to the slow line and drift to the
    back of the fast line: he gets a little rest since he is going a bit slower now. To get onto the
    fast line, he pushes a little harder momentarily to match speeds, but then he's in the slip stream,
    and it's easy street until he gets back to the front. Then he takes the wind again until he is
    clear, and switches lines again. This is called a rotating pace line.

    Sometimes a few riders are considerably stronger than other riders, and they might take longer
    pulls. Something else you might see is a rider who always stays off the back; he might be winded, or
    he might have no interest in seeing the break succeed. For instance, a sprinter's team might want a
    man in the break to give some indication of how strong the break is and how much effort will be
    needed to pull it back.

    Team time trials also use pace lines, but the tactic is different because of the nature of the race:
    you're trying to go as fast as possible, as a team, over a considerably shorter distance than a
    typical stage. The oxen of the team do a lot more pulling in a TTT than the climbers.

    Another factor to consider in these breakaways is good old-fashioned advertising. The cameras are on
    the lead group, and being in that group gets your sponsor airtime.

    > 2) a rider from a team "leads out" his team-mate (the main rider of his team) towards the final
    > sprint and drops out to the side when he's all out of energy. Why do the main rider need to be
    > led out towards the final sprint?

    ... This is really just a tactic to minimize aerodynamic drag on the main sprinter while at the same
    time building speed for the sprint. The great sprinters have incredible power over short distances
    (100-300 meters, depending on the sprinter). If you've been watching the Giro, you've seen that
    different sprinters have slightly different tactics: some have more power and can maintain speed
    longer, while some have a higher top end and can call up huge reserves in the last 50 m to nip an
    opponent at the line. Cipo, for instance, has that great leadout team because he has enough power
    over a longer sprint distance that its hard for "faster" sprinters to get past him once he's up to
    speed, but he's the best leadout the "faster" guys have, so they fight for his wheel.

    > 3) a small group of riders, why is it the front rider is said to be "doing all the work" is it
    > that difficult to be in front.

    ... Once again, it's all about aerodynamics and the huge advantage one has in the draft of another
    rider. It really is that difficult to be in front, for me anyway! This is also why a rider who
    chooses to plow a lonely furrow almost always gets swept up by the pack; he's doing a lot more work
    than any single rider in the peloton.

    > 4) if for e.g., Heras is taking Armstrong up a climb, is it more mental help that he is providing
    > or is there some physical advantage of following somebody.

    ... Climbing though is different. As speeds slow down, aerodynamics play less and less of a roll,
    and on steep climbs, drafting doesn't give much of an edge. What is very helpful though is to have
    someone set a pace for you to get a good rhythm, or tempo, going. If you can't maintain the tempo,
    you get dropped, but if you hit it, a rider like Armstrong can assess how he feels, how the riders
    around him look, and decide whether or not to attack to splinter the group. If you are near your
    limit climbing a mountain and someone attacks strongly, it can be pretty demoralizing, so there is
    definitely a mental game being played on mountain stages.

    > 5) "rider A and his mates decides to drop rider B" how is this drop accomplished (other than just
    > sprinting away, is there something else"?

    ... Various ways, but sprinting away is certainly an option. Some tactics can be used such as
    forcing rider B to front for an extended time, or forcing him to set the tempo on a climb and
    attacking from behind. If rider A and rider B are well matched, once rider B has A's wheel, A
    won't drop him.

    > 6) if someone is right in the middle of a big peleton and needs to go somewhere (anywhere for
    > whatever purpose) how do they get out of there?

    ... Touch wheels, swerve viciously out of the peloton, flip head over heels when you get to the
    shoulder, land in a ditch full of water, and crawl out unscathed. But seriously, you either
    communicate with the riders around you, or you take advantage to the gaps and openings that come and
    go in a peloton to get where you want to be. If you really want to move up, you are more likely to
    succeed on the edge of the peloton, but that's also where the risks (road hazards, curbs, ditches,
    etc.) are greatest.

    > I think I will enjoy watching the race even more if I understood some of these things. Thank you.
     
  3. In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...
    >
    >
    >I've been watching race for quite some time but still don't understand parts of what's really
    >happening or what's the announcer is saying. Can you explain some of them? I don't really race,
    >dont' even ride that much, thus the lack of understanding.
    >
    >1) a pursuit group of say, 5, riders, chasing the leader. the announcer says "but no one is
    > cooperating" Question: what's meant by cooperating, what would I see happening on TV if they
    > were indeed cooperating.

    When cooperating, each of the 5 takes a turn at the front. The persons not in the front have to
    expend less energy than the guy in front because of wind resistance. When they are all cooperating,
    4 guys would be going easier than the 5th guy. So each of the chasers only has to go full tilt 20%
    of the time. That means they can go faster for a longer period of time.

    >2) a rider from a team "leads out" his team-mate (the main rider of his team) towards the final
    > sprint and drops out to the side when he's all out of energy. Why do the main rider need to be
    > led out towards the final sprint?

    Once again, wind resistance. When you get a lead out you get up to speed while drafting, so you
    expend less energy. When your lead out man moves over, you have more energy to get you to a higher
    speed, but only for a short period of time. The really good sprinters know how to time their last
    burst of speed to get to the line ahead of the others before they fizzle out.

    >3) a small group of riders, why is it the front rider is said to be "doing all the work" is it that
    > difficult to be in front.

    Wiond resistance, see above.

    >4) if for e.g., Heras is taking Armstrong up a climb, is it more mental help that he is providing
    > or is there some physical advantage of following somebody.

    On climb the speeds are lower, so wind resistance plays less of a role, but it is still there.

    >5) "rider A and his mates decides to drop rider B" how is this drop accomplished (other than just
    > sprinting away, is there something else"?

    Sometimes rider can can just ride away. Sometimes it takes multiple attacks to tire out the other
    riders. Sometimes you can use a team mate to help you with tactics to drop another rider.

    >6) if someone is right in the middle of a big peleton and needs to go somewhere (anywhere for
    > whatever purpose) how do they get out of there?

    Very carefully. :) there are always small gaps that you have to fill to move out from the middle.
    -----------------
    Alex __O _-\<,_ (_)/ (_)
     
  4. Raptor

    Raptor Guest

    Telford wrote:
    > I've been watching race for quite some time but still don't understand parts of what's really
    > happening or what's the announcer is saying. Can you explain some of them? I don't really race,
    > dont' even ride that much, thus the lack of understanding.

    Your understanding and appreciation is likely to go sky-high if you join in a group ride or a dozen.
    You'd get a lot of raw data.

    Don't feel bad though. I raced for five years way back when and didn't know squat about it until I
    started watching the long-term coverage on OLN.

    --
    --
    Lynn Wallace http://www.xmission.com/~lawall "I'm not proud. We really haven't done everything we
    could to protect our customers. Our products just aren't engineered for security." --Microsoft VP in
    charge of Windows OS Development, Brian Valentine.
     
  5. Dan

    Dan Guest

    Alex Rodriguez <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...

    > >4) if for e.g., Heras is taking Armstrong up a climb, is it more mental help that he is providing
    > > or is there some physical advantage of following somebody.
    >
    > On climb the speeds are lower, so wind resistance plays less of a role, but it is still there.
    >

    also, on big mountain stages when the course goes over multiple mountain passes, it's good to have
    few climbers on your team that will be able to get you to the bottom of the last climb. There is a
    lot of work to be done on the flats *between* the climbs, and that often is the responsibility of
    "climbers".
     
  6. Bobb Head <[email protected]> wrote:
    :> 5) "rider A and his mates decides to drop rider B" how is this drop accomplished (other than
    :> just sprinting away, is there something else"?

    : ... Various ways, but sprinting away is certainly an option. Some tactics can be used such as
    : forcing rider B to front for an extended time, or forcing him to set the tempo on a climb and
    : attacking from behind. If rider A and rider B are well matched, once rider B has A's wheel, A
    : won't drop him.

    How can you force somebody to stay at the front? Can't they just slow down and fall back?

    --
    Risto Varanka | http://www.helsinki.fi/~rvaranka/hpv/hpv.html varis at no spam please iki fi
     
  7. Nobodyman

    Nobodyman Guest

    On 23 Jun 2003 00:09:23 GMT, [email protected] wrote:

    >Bobb Head <[email protected]> wrote:
    >:> 5) "rider A and his mates decides to drop rider B" how is this drop accomplished (other than
    >:> just sprinting away, is there something else"?
    >
    >: ... Various ways, but sprinting away is certainly an option. Some tactics can be used such as
    >: forcing rider B to front for an extended time, or forcing him to set the tempo on a climb and
    >: attacking from behind. If rider A and rider B are well matched, once rider B has A's wheel, A
    >: won't drop him.
    >
    >How can you force somebody to stay at the front? Can't they just slow down and fall back?

    Not necessarily. There was a stage at the Tour a few years back when the two leaders of a break,
    just a little bit back from the finish line, almost looked like they were track racing. The rider up
    front wanted to fall back and was barely going fast enough to stay upright, but the rider behind
    refused to pass him. The front rider finally tried to sprint away (as the peloton was in hot
    pursuit) but as predicted, the rider in back sprinted by at the finish line and won the stage.
     
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