Race strategy

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by davef, Nov 2, 2003.

  1. davef

    davef New Member

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    Recently done a few road races and after getting spit-out a few times have been searching around for strategy tips.

    Think my main problem is the fear of being dropped so I tend to stay too close to the front and wear myself out.

    Would appreciate suggestions of books or web sites where I can do some reading.

    Thanks
     
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  2. Roy Gardiner

    Roy Gardiner New Member

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    Being near the front is easier than being right at the back; but not at the front. Find the biggest guy in the bunch and sit on his wheel :)
     
  3. SLS

    SLS New Member

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    First tip is to keep training and racing. Work on your interval training, that will help you avoid getting dropped right out the back of the pack if they suddenly pick up speed. Do you get dropped during a hilly section, etc? That will help point out areas you need to work on.

    Relax the day before the race; let your body recuperate by taking the day off or ride for just a few miles.

    Patience is another good item, I quit riding over 12 years ago and I am just getting back into it – needless to say it is taking me a while to get back to my old form and stamina. If you are just starting out, relax you will improve & pretty soon they won’t be able to shake you out of the pack. If you are in your first year – next year will be better, and the year after that better, etc…

    As for riding in the pack, it depends on the size of it. A size of one in the TDF, you had better be in the top ten to twenty spots if you even want a chance to win. A group of 10 riders, around the middle would be a good place. 20+ riders, in front of the middle section would be a good place. It all depends on the race. If it is a windy course, towards the very front is the best place so you can choose your own line through the corners, and hopefully not slow down at all. If you are towards the middle or further back you have to slow down hardcore & sprint to close the gap from everyone towards the front that hardly touched their brakes. Needless to say, that is a quick way to wear your body out.

    Roy is right about getting behind a big rider, just make sure you know what is happening in front of him & all around you. If he starts losing ground, you just got spit out the back and may not even realize it.

    Most books out there can help you work on a training plan and add additional racing strategies that will fit your situation. If you run across a book that says this plan works for everyone, find another one. A simple trip to a library can help you out immensely. There are quite a few good ones out there, and I can’t really think of one in particular to recommend, I took points from allot of them and added them to my own experience. Hope that helps & is what you were looking for.
     
  4. davef

    davef New Member

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    Thanks guys.

    OK on going up the hills as I am fairly light, as SLS suggests I probably should focus on sprint interval training.

    Also, found out the library has at least 2 different sections for Bike books!

    I am keen to learn as fast as possible before it is too late . . . as I am 59 years old :)

    Cheers
     
  5. Roy Gardiner

    Roy Gardiner New Member

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    I'm only 51 and started racing as a Veteran. V.hard to start with. Don't give up!

    Veteran racing is hard! You will be surrounded by men who have been racing all their lives who are very, very tough to beat. I'm in the same races (note, not 'I race against' :) ) 2002 over 60 world champion Tony Woodcock who regularly wins races in the 40+ age group and who is perfectly happy in 1/2/3 races. . And if that's not enough a little fat man with 2 worlds Masters sprint medals will come past 15mph faster in the last 200m if we let him. Too much...

    But these guys know all about racing. They are safe, generous and will help you do well. Very few silly crashes; they won't put you in the ditch just to get past. Great fun.

    Keep riding, keep training, good luck.
     
  6. holli

    holli New Member

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    If you don't know the riders find a guy with biggest best tanned legs and follow him, you'll be second:D
     
  7. shaneo

    shaneo New Member

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    best training manual is to keep on racing.....this will help you overcome your fear of being dropped.....

    you can read all the books in the world, but the practical side of racing is the key to learning the game......just remember that no-one really cares if you get dropped.....so relax and give it your best shot.....

    if you actually think about it....a good race involves making a huge number of split second decisions, that culminate in the best result possible (given your fitness/form).

    As every race is so different from the last, you need to practice racing as much as possible. Doing to much time on the front of the pack and getting blown off is part of this process....

    cant learn that in a book
     
  8. davef

    davef New Member

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    >If you don't know the riders find a guy with biggest best tanned >legs and follow him, you'll be second.

    Then I noticed some of the Grade A and B high-performers are young guys with comparatively skinny looking legs :)

    >Doing to much time on the front of the pack and getting blown >off is part of this process....

    Ah, so falling back into the straggling single pace line behind the guys at the front is the "next part of the process"? Then watch for breakaways?

    Or are you suggesting to work out when it is appropriate to work at the front and appropriate when to fall back a bit and take it a bit easier.

    Thanks for the tips so far, I am all ears . . .
     
  9. treebound

    treebound New Member

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    From a non-racer-long-time-rider-looking-to-start-racing-FINALLY point of view.... :)

    I've seen in several books and web sites where studies have been conducted of energy expended for various positions within a pack. If I remember right, the front takes the most effort, the windward side next, the lee side next, and the tail next, and in the middle takes the least amount of energy expended to stay with the pack. If you get some tapes of good races (Paris-Roubaiux (sp?) is a good tape but not for pack study) then watch a particular rider who is near but not at the front point position, you should see them drift up to the front, and drift off to a side, and drift into the middle front to rest, and then do another circuit within the pack. At least that's what I've noticed, not really a pace-line type of deal, more like a pack/position deal, up to work, back and in to rest, never so far back as to risk getting dropped or blocked unless it's to pull in another team member up to the front who may have had to take a leak or got blocked or jumped a gap from a following pack.

    But don't get lost in the details. Just stay aware. In the middle is where you'll find many pile-ups as well from what I've seen, and the side/rear corners of the packs while in corners. Crashing sucks, minimize your risk and exposure.

    I've been studying, now plan to start doing. I've also picked the brains of enough racers in the past to have learned that they all tend to always be open to learn, they all have mostly said it's sort of like being inside a school of fish - go with the flow and don't get eaten in the process. First one to the food wins, the rest just get chum.
     
  10. shaneo

    shaneo New Member

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    You just need to build your experience is what I am saying. That way you will make the best decision possible at any given time. Races are always different, so this experience will make you adaptable to the strength of the pack and the conditions that prevail at the time. Inexperience will make you use your energy at the wrong time, and you will suffer for it.

    For example you might be riding a crit on a day with a strong cross wind.....so there will be certain sections where you should protect yourself from the wind and make sure you are on a 'good wheel'. I've seen plenty of very strong recreational riders try to race, postion themselves poorly and get blown off the back as the pace goes on.

    A good strategy if you are new to racing is to not worry to much about winning the race....but just devoting a season to learning to race. As you get more confidence, set yourself realistic targets, like a top ten finish.......when you achieve this set the bar abit higher....etc

    Another good way to learn is to identify really experienced riders and watch them throughout a race......try and copy the way they read the race and move through the pack....the way they just seem to know when to follow the right break.....you will learn alot from guys who have been racing all their life...

    also, dont be afraid to use a race to try something different. You might decide that in a particular race, you will try to attack the bunch whenever possible, rather than waiting for the sprint. In this case you take a chance without worrying if you don get a place or not....remember you might not win, but people will respect you for having the guts to give it a go.....
     
  11. blip

    blip New Member

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    I agree with Shaneo. You cannot buy or acquire race experience, you earn it. A few points for my five cents worth.

    It hurts racing bikes. If you are hurting then chances are so is somebody or everybody else, hang in there.

    Do not get dropped under any circumstances, if that means you chew a handlebar to stay on that last wheel then chew it, you will be stronger for it next time. Races surge and slow so if you can hang in there during the surges then you can recover.

    Keep a few wheels from the front, NEVER on the front.

    If you are going to attack then attack from a few places back and jump across the road as far as you can so somebody does not glue themselves to your wheel.

    Attack just as the breakaway gets caught.

    Basicaly though, get out there. Get dropped, suffer, fight, endure pain and learn.

    out.
     
  12. Nicko71

    Nicko71 New Member

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    One thing missing from this post is teamwork.

    I've noticed in my short time racing, that the guys who have someone working for them usually win. My biggest success is sponging of the work they all do together. This tactic really wont help me long term much though cos they'll realise it eventually wise up to what Im up to.

    As new guys in our respective peletons, we havent built up relationships with enough guys to have people help us that much. BUt I think if we race hard and try to get recognition for being hard workers, and good guys, people will respect us and maybe like us to work with them one day too.

    A guy told me something interesting the other day. He said if you want to have people give you a lead out in a race, you have to do that for them first. Makes sense to me.

    Now you probably are thinking that you are racing in 'individual' races. But from what I've seen I seriously doubt it. Even within my club there are alliances for club races, and part of the art is to form one for yourself!!

    One of the other poster's advocated going on attacks, but attacks are totally pointless unless you have some people to go with you. If you gain recognition for being a brave and powerful rider, then perhaps others will be prepared to go with you!!

    Just a few thoughts
     
  13. Kiwi Greg

    Kiwi Greg New Member

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    While your working on your form try to stay away from the front. But there will come a day, I hope, when you will be strong enough to do your share of the work.
    You don't want to get a name as someone who wheelsucks the whole race and then sprints at the end. Riders will respect you a whole lot more if you ride hard and get dropped than if you just sit in. The day you need a hand to bridge a grap you might be left to do it by yourself.
    Race hard, race strong, be fair.
    It's a different story in the pro's but for the rest of us it's just good honest fun.:)
     
  14. Roy Gardiner

    Roy Gardiner New Member

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    I'm afraid I disagree. Being a sprinter has its own problems. All the hard men who can't sprint as well as you will be working to get rid of you; they will work together to do so, pooling their resources until you're out of the picture; conversely, if you get in a break, they'll sit up; if you work hard, they'll laugh at you for doing it, then beat you; the whole field will be racing against you and any other sprinters there; they won't attack on the flat, where the sprinter is strongest, but going uphill - and why not?; even when you get to the last km, the late attackers will go and everyone will look to you to chase; the 'disrespect' is just a legitimate part of the psychological war - to get you to waste your effort.

    If you can sprint you have God's own gift to a bike racer. Play to its strengths! You may be sure that the more you don't the more pleased the opposition will be.
     
  15. Nicko71

    Nicko71 New Member

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    It could be the very amateur nature of the racing I have been doing, but I have wondered often if a true sprinter is ever really hurt that much by a bit of hard work in a bunch?

    I've done races where I've flogged myself for 40km, and still finished OK due to getting the right wheel near the end.

    Sure, if you drive the pack for 40mins, you wont win, but in the end hiding in the middle doesnt seem to really help that much anyway - especially if you get the sprint wrong.

    Something which seems to marr the races I do, is people underestimating themselves. They watch attacks go by, waiting for someone else to do the work for them. They wonder why they get dropped. I think eventually, they wait for people who actually are no fitter than themselves to carry them along and they all split up and drop off together.

    I am sure the best way to race if you know you're a little less fit than the better riders, is to try as hard as possible to be decisive about covering attacks. Covering attacks decisively seems to me to be less punishing than initiating attacks or doing long turns???!!! If you're dropped as a result as having a go at covering an attack, you're probably just delaying the inevitable anyway???

    Hesitancy seems to be contagious, and I think seems to be the main reason why people get dropped.

    Scenario: someone attacks, a few riders follow - you are the first rider in a bunch - you sit and wait for everyone else to do something, and potentially slow or hinder them all, confusion sets in, your bunch all loses out and have to work harder to recover the situation or all get dropped.

    OR

    You aggresively surge trying to find the wheel of the attackers. You start to hurt a bit and falter. Well, you've wound your bunch up a bit, and maybe need to rest in behind them once they pass, but you're already at the bunch pace and are less likely to get spat out, especially if everyone around you has a go!!

    OR

    You sit at the back of the peleton all day, smashing yourself out of every corner, and fighting madly to stay on when the attacks happen.

    There seems to be only one way to ride when your a bit less fit than the rest - aggressively cover - EVERY TIME - and dont sit at the back??? BAck yourself - and try hard, if it doesnt work, it probably would not have worked if you'd been hesitant, or trying to stay on the very back!!

    I wonder if Im right??
     
  16. VeloFlash

    VeloFlash New Member

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    My advice to avoid getting dropped -

    1. If you go to the front to do a turn, only exert yourself to within you capabilities. Don't feel that you have to contribute exactly as the other more experienced and seasoned riders.

    2. The best position to preserve yourself and guard against being dropped is about 5/6 back from the front (depending upon size of pack).

    3. When you are in the pack, always look up to the front to get an early warning of a pack surge to answer an attack. Anticipating the reaction and getting on the pedals early will prevent you from getting gapped by faster riders in front of you.

    4. Move closer to the front when approaching hills. The leaders will accelerate over the hill and if you are caught towards the rear you run the danger of being dropped by attempting to match that faster pace while still in climbing mode.

    5. Anticipate a counter attack after a successful chase and bridge.

    6. If protocol dictates that you must do a turn, try and pick the easier parts of the course to take over (eg, downwind). Remember that downhills are not easier for the rider on front. He/she is required to pedal while others sit in their draft and coast.
     
  17. Roy Gardiner

    Roy Gardiner New Member

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    Alternatively, stick to flat criteriums, then you can hide in the middle of the bunch no problem. Of course, then you get the problem of cornering...
    :)
     
  18. Fooz

    Fooz New Member

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    Or you have the problem I have. I am the big oke everyone hides behind (1.87m tall, 100kg's sitting on a 59cm Litespeed).

    A few weeks ago we had a race, very flat course, with one long 5km winding hill. Every time I went to the front with a friend, we'd put the pace up to about 36 - 37km/h....then after about 2 mins we'd drop back, and the pace would slow down something ridiculous...like 29km/h! This went on for about 35km.... then I broke free of the group on the climb with another rider, and we worked our hearts out to get a good lead on them...

    Guess what....the group chased us down...caught us, and promptly set up again back down to some easy 32km/h pace... It was annoying as hell...they wouldn't work with us, but they wouldn't let us go either....

    Eventually we just kept attacking and I got 2nd in the sprint for our group, but then some 10 other people piled in front of me at the timing mats....a common problem where we race....

    Just thought I'd share that with the forum :)
     
  19. Roy Gardiner

    Roy Gardiner New Member

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    Ah, Cipollini...
    ...25kg heavier :)
    Sounds like you and your buddy are the strongest, everyone knows it and everyone is racing against you. So don't play their game, play your own. Maybe sit in until 10-15k to go, then just keep on attacking. Then they won't have time to chase you down. Or wait until the last descent before the finish, and use that 100kg to get away and ride solo to the line. Unless you can sprint; if so, ignore all the above and just don't hit the front until 200m to go!
     
  20. steevo

    steevo New Member

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    Dont be afraid to lose. You will either lose by getting dropped and hoping somebody else will do the work, or by trying to bridge the gap and losing steam. I think one is benificial than the other. If you want to sit, stay at home. Give it your all, if that isnt enough, keep working at it and someday it will be.

    One of my favorite races this year, I had a up to a 1 minute lead in a break with about 8 miles to go. I could see the finish line at the top of the hill when the sprinters passed me. It was one of my best races ever even though I think I finished really close to last.
    Give it your everything.
     
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