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  1. #1
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    How to win cat 5 races having TT fitness?

    Hi!

    I just entered road racing world and really puzzled about what to do there. I will try to put my thoughts along with perspective of yesterday race.

    I am 74 kg and my CP points are

    30s = 566w
    1m = 460w
    5m = 335w
    20m = 285w

    my LT measured is 300w, so my FTP is around 290 or so. That should be more that enough to win/place I presumed.

    Despite that I do not understand how I could win cat 5 race

    My concerns:

    It's impossible to create breakaway since nobody can or want to work hard with me AND I kinda suck at sprinting (see my 30s) so during finish line sprint in a pack I always going to be no better that other ppl with better 30s wattage, dosen't matter what their aerobic fitness is.

    So yesterday (https://www.strava.com/activities/370598587) I pulled a whole train a lot, tried to breakaway/chase whatever is breaking but without any success, since group always catch a lone rider. And since to form good breakaway 3-4 ppl needed I couldn't do anything there.

    So being in pack is not an even tempo ride for me (pack in middle going about 23-24mph doing about 200w) but riding in front dosent' give me any advantage even since I am doing that 270-280w and ppl in behind going same speed on 220-210w. At the last lap I was going even 180-200w in front hoping ppl will start passing me but everybody stayed behind dosen't matter how slow it went and then on final 1min sprint I sucked as predicted.

    Help?
    Last edited by Zedmor; 08-17-15 at 09:31 AM.

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    ride off the front and lap the field.

    -quote credit, @racerEx

    don't pull the field, attack, go, and keep going. you'll have to identify how you best get separation, but here are some cheap tips: when getting to the front dont pull like on a group ride, just accelerate really really hard, then look under your arm, if you have a gap, keep going hard then pace yourself; position yourself about 3 to 4 racers from the front and sprint. by the time you go past the front of the pack, you should be going way faster than them, keep going and then settle into TT mode for the CP you have left. try it at different points in a race and in different situations. it'll work, and if it doesnt in 10 trys, you can do it as a Cat 4!

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    fuggitivo solitario
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    first and foremost, learn to keep yourself sheltered. if you can't navigate yourself frm the back of pack to the front without having to side-blast in 20 minutes or so, you know where you need to work (credit @MDcatV)

    this assures that you don't burn as many matches

    next is to do less work and stop pulling people around. Attack with determination (25-30 seconds full bore). Look back after 40 seconds or so. Do you have a sizeable gap? If not, sit up and wait for a better opportunity to attack (credit @shovelhd). those oppurtunities would be on hills, in crosswinds, after a corner, and/or during lulls in a race. on a windy course, attack on the crosswind section right before a turn into tailwind. The crosswind allows you to gutter and establish the gap, the corner allows you to extend the gap a bit, and tailwind allows you to maintain advantage even if the pack is chasing.

    also keep in mind the strong riders in your field and mark them.

    lastly you may be over-estimating your FTP (although this is mostly a moot point for the issue here). How is that your 20 min power is lower than both your LT and FTP? If you can't do 20 min at 290W, then your FTP surely ain't 290W.

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    Sadly, most cat 5 racing is not really a race until the finish line is in sight. Best to follow and jump out just before a technical section or a climb. TT fitness will help you stay away but not for long alone and cat 5 races are too short to wear anyone out. You need to train for the jumps and work on sprinting.

    As mentioned above, stalk your competition and get to know the fast guys and follow them. Get into a break with them and hang on and learn. Even if they get away at some point, you can then TT your way to a top ten finish.

    When I first started, I could not even hold the pack but would then pick up and roar past riders for the rest of the race and still get a decent finish. It was not until I started to train like a road racer that I could stay there, take my pulls and actually contest the sprints.
    Last edited by Number400; 08-17-15 at 10:03 AM.

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    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    Cat 5 is not about winning - it's about learning.

    I didn't win anything until I was a 4, and that was near the end of my cat 4 career.
    cat 1.

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    Senior Member furiousferret's Avatar
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    The one thing FTP does for you in a race that most don't account for is it keeps you fresh for the final surge. In the 5's at least half the field can't maintain the final lap pace so try to get to that final lap fresh (i.e. stay near the front, don't pull) and just hang on until an opportunity arises and you'll be fine. A lot of guys win the sprints in the lower levels just because they are there at the end and jump on the right wheels.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MDcatV View Post
    ride off the front and lap the field.

    -quote credit, @racerEx

    don't pull the field, attack, go, and keep going. you'll have to identify how you best get separation, but here are some cheap tips: when getting to the front dont pull like on a group ride, just accelerate really really hard, then look under your arm, if you have a gap, keep going hard then pace yourself; position yourself about 3 to 4 racers from the front and sprint. by the time you go past the front of the pack, you should be going way faster than them, keep going and then settle into TT mode for the CP you have left. try it at different points in a race and in different situations. it'll work, and if it doesnt in 10 trys, you can do it as a Cat 4!
    This. Cat 5 is the time to try stuff. Go early, go late, but make sure you just go.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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    "If it comes down to a field sprint, you probably won't win, so don't let it." - shovelhd

    So either work on sprinting, especially the jump, or try everything and anything to separate yourself from the field before the sprint. You won't be able to just ride everyone off your wheel. Try attacking from the middle/back of the pack, using a course feature to separate yourself, attacking immediately before a break gets caught, etc. This is what racing is all about, learning how to use your comparative advantages.

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    Senior Member ShutUpLegs's Avatar
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    Like others have said I'll also summarize....

    Cat 5 is where you learn. Try different things in each race (go from the start, wait for the sprint, attack 1-2k from the finish, etc.). In my opinion it's to early to classify yourself as a specific type of rider. For individuals in Cat 5 with a higher FTP, this helps them get to the finish fresh. It doesn't matter if you have a 1500W sprint, if you can't make it to the finish somewhat fresh you never get to take advantage of that. Yes it is generally harder to get a breakaway going in a Cat5 race and there are many reasons because of this, but it doesn't hurt to try.

    The key is being smart and learning from your mistakes. Don't sit on the front and toe the group around. If you attack and the whole group reacts and is on your wheel then sit up and conserve some energy to try again later. Drift to the very back of the pack and try to work on getting back to the front using minimal effort (this is crucial to learn).

    In your training, continue to work on all aspects of your cycling. You can develop a better sprint which will help as you progress. It may turn out your better set for breakaway's but that doesn't mean you don't work on your weaknesses even as you move up.
    BLOG --> http://goingoffthefront.blogspot.com/

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    There are some guys who can ride a cat5 crit off their wheel. They tend to have numbers commensurate with the cat 1-2 section of the e-wang when they are 5s. 290 is below 4 w/kg in this case, and in all likelihood the actual FTP number is lower, so unless you find some other way to go that much faster than the pack, it's time to be more realistic about what your relative strengths are.

  11. #11
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    Thank you guys! Searching forum helped a lot as well, a lot of similar topics. Looks like RR is such a different beast then just FTP measurement contest that is TT and why I don't like TT much

    So plan for now is: race lots, improve left side of CP to smth like 600w/1m and I will definitely try to attack more OR sit in and be fresh for a sprint and will see what is going to work if any. Lot of new stuff to learn and try! I def not going to just lap a field riding in front, I get it that RR is not about that at all and I am not going be able to do that anywhere then in cat5.
    Last edited by Zedmor; 08-17-15 at 10:42 AM.

  12. #12
    fuggitivo solitario
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zedmor View Post
    Thank you guys! Searching forum helped a lot as well, a lot of similar topics. Looks like RR is such a different beast then just FTP measurement contest that is TT and why I don't like TT much

    So plan for now is: race lots, improve left side of CP to smth like 600w/1m and I will definitely try to attack more OR sit in and be fresh for a sprint and will see what is going to work if any. Lot of new stuff to learn and try! I def not going to just lap a field riding in front, I get it that RR is not about that at all and I am not going be able to do that anywhere then in cat5.
    even that's not necessary. it's still just a number. Of course, high 1-min power means you could try to do kilo attacks, but that on its own isnt needed for breakaway success.

    train for recovery. You attacked and got a gap or just dug deep to bridge to a small group; great! But you also went quite a bit over threshold to do so but yet needs to operate at a high intensity to make sure you can stay way.

  13. #13
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    I wlll just put it here in case anybody interested: Breakaway Math.pdf

    European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology
    May 1998, Volume 77, Issue 6, pp 492-497
    The mathematics of breaking away and chasing in cycling

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    The thing I see most in Cat 4/5 men's races is exactly what you're doing: you sit on the front in the wind, pulling, and then you're surprised when you can't establish a break. It's about using your watts wisely. Attack from 10 riders back and, as others have said, *drill it* for 30-40seconds before you look back. So sit in and choose your attacks carefully.

    I agree that your FTP can't be 290 if your 20min is 285. It's probably closer to 270. And that's not super strong (at least to the point where you can confidently roll off the front and ride away from the field).

    I'll also give some context. I'm a sprinter, where my 1s is >1450w, 5s is >1300w, 30s is 718w, 1min 500w, and then it really starts dropping off: 5min is only 310, FTP 225. With the 30s and 1min, they're strong enough for me to attack with 500m to go and drill it (I've won twice doing that), or I wait for a bunch sprint (and I win a lot of my races this way). Know what you're good at and *how* to use it. You can plausibly go on the last lap, or last half, and just hope you can hold on.

    But honestly? Most Cat 4/5 guys don't have sprints >1100w. You should focus on being as fresh as possible until the moment you strike. Don't rule out sprints. One thing you can do is put in a hard 10sec into a final corner of a crit, and then go long (300-400m). If your cornering is good, then you'll hold lots of speed going through the corner first and you might find that you have a 5-10m gap without much effort.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zedmor View Post
    European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology
    May 1998, Volume 77, Issue 6, pp 492-497
    The mathematics of breaking away and chasing in cycling

    Fun article, but not relevant to your situation. Even in your short racing career I'm sure you have seen racers decide to chase for no reason, decide not to chase for no reason, not realize there are racers off the front, decide the break is out of reach and give up, attack like mad and get a big gap only to explode, let somebody dangle 5 seconds off the front for a long time, etc etc.

    Do more races and try everything. When you find something that works, that's what makes it fun!

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    I bet if I did a cat 5 race I would get 4th place.

    twitter.com/ygduf
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    Don't complain... exactly half my finishes this year have been 5th-8th place.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by globecanvas View Post
    "If it comes down to a field sprint, you probably won't win, so don't let it." - shovelhd

    So either work on sprinting, especially the jump, or try everything and anything to separate yourself from the field before the sprint. You won't be able to just ride everyone off your wheel. Try attacking from the middle/back of the pack, using a course feature to separate yourself, attacking immediately before a break gets caught, etc. This is what racing is all about, learning how to use your comparative advantages.
    I endorse this advice. Another thing to watch for is guys chatting on the front.

    One thing to try is attacking when the field speed is high, when it's all lined out. If you can do that and establish a gap then you have what it takes to win solo. If you don't you have work to do.

  19. #19
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    There's a lot of great advice here, as I'd expect. One thing I can add is, you have from what I see a pretty decent 1 m power, esp for a cat 5, but you didn't list your 5 - 10 s neuromuscular output. If you have a really good 5 - 10s jump, one more thing you can try is, depending on the course, pick a good spot early on the last lap to jump hard early and see if you can pull a minute+ hard to the line in front of the pack, instead of forcing an early break. Spend the bulk of the race sheltering and saving. You know a break won't stick so let others chase them. My experience in cat 5 races is there isn't cohesion on the last lap, and leading up to the sprint, no one works together well and people are antsy and half commit to the sprint too soon, in that in between time of about 150 - 200m out, that's probably too long a sprint for most people at a typical cat 5 fitness level. Watching the 3's and the 1/2's race, the pack seems to stay together more until the sprinters know they're in range of the line so they don't get gassed 10 or 20m out.

    Also, watch as many sprinterdellacasa youtube videos as you can and read his advice in the subtitles. That alone will give you a leg up on the average Cat 5.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zedmor View Post
    Hi!

    I just entered road racing world and really puzzled about what to do there. I will try to put my thoughts along with perspective of yesterday race.

    I am 74 kg and my CP points are

    30s = 566w
    1m = 460w
    5m = 335w
    20m = 285w

    my LT measured is 300w, so my FTP is around 290 or so. That should be more that enough to win/place I presumed.

    Despite that I do not understand how I could win cat 5 race

    My concerns:

    It's impossible to create breakaway since nobody can or want to work hard with me AND I kinda suck at sprinting (see my 30s) so during finish line sprint in a pack I always going to be no better that other ppl with better 30s wattage, dosen't matter what their aerobic fitness is.

    So yesterday (https://www.strava.com/activities/370598587) I pulled a whole train a lot, tried to breakaway/chase whatever is breaking but without any success, since group always catch a lone rider. And since to form good breakaway 3-4 ppl needed I couldn't do anything there.

    So being in pack is not an even tempo ride for me (pack in middle going about 23-24mph doing about 200w) but riding in front dosent' give me any advantage even since I am doing that 270-280w and ppl in behind going same speed on 220-210w. At the last lap I was going even 180-200w in front hoping ppl will start passing me but everybody stayed behind dosen't matter how slow it went and then on final 1min sprint I sucked as predicted.

    Help?
    Some thoughts here -

    - First, concentrate your energy on a series of attacks. I saw in your Strava file that your HR didn't drop much below 160 bpm (a few times into the 150s). Try to get it lower, like significantly lower. 120 bpm. 130 bpm. Absurdly low. This means you're either falling asleep or you're super recovered, super fresh, and ready to launch a series of attacks.

    - Second, don't "just pull". If you want to pull, attack first, then pull. Don't just pull. If you end up with the whole field on your wheels then sit up. You correctly point out that if you're pulling then everyone else benefits from your work. There are two solutions to that - don't pull everyone (meaning don't go to the front); get separation if you want to chase (meaning you only pull yourself and a few others that you don't mind tagging along).

    - Third, unless there's some insanely strong Cat 5 in your area that hasn't moved up to Cat 4 yet, do not get into the wind for the first half of the race (I just realized you're on a 6 mile loop, 5 laps, so the first 3 laps ignore everything). Everyone can chase at the beginning. Tell people you have a cold. Tell them you don't feel well. Just don't pull, ever. Even if you think the winning move is going up the road, let it go. When you get to the halfway point you can do whatever you want. The first half, do absolutely nothing. Ideally your heart rate will be nice and low, 140s avg. You should be bored out of your skull. Focus on riding in the field, sitting on wheels, drafting, avoiding riders you want to avoid, following riders you think are good, etc.

    - Fourth, with really one lap to go you should start thinking about making your first efforts. It's hard to tell the terrain from Strava but usually efforts just over the top of a rise are effective, as riders mentally relax after climbing a short hill. Repeat those efforts. If there's a crosswind then make sure you're on the protected side (wind from right, stay left) and drill it. Headwind? If no separation then sit up. Tailwind? Go for it. You're not going for the sprint win per se, you want to break the field emotionally. Now you draw on all the reserves you built up in the prior 4 laps of doing nothing. Your legs should be fresh, you should be totally impatient to get things going, and now you can go at it.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mose View Post
    Also, watch as many sprinterdellacasa youtube videos as you can and read his advice in the subtitles. That alone will give you a leg up on the average Cat 5.
    @Zedmor It may not be clear but sprinterdellacasa is me. I'm pretty challenged as a racer, 210w FTP, your weight. My strength is that I have a jump, and I have a few years of racing experience.

    I placed 3rd in one race this year where I averaged under 155w, which is unusual, but typically my best races are those where I average between 170 and 190w. Much higher than that and I have no sprint left at the end. I tend to pick races with a short hill or no hill (short hill is usually better for me).

    For many years I had to approach racing as a survival thing - usually I got shelled long before the end of the race. I made it a goal of mine to see less than 60 seconds of wind in an hour of racing. In some races, with a fierce wind and no shelter, I could feel my strength being ripped from my body as I struggled in the wind. I can always sprint if I have some reserves - that's how sprinters work. For those that don't sprint as well it's critical to be as fresh as possible when you make your efforts so that you make them count.

    I suspect? that you haven't tried sprinting 100% when you're fresh. It's one thing to try and sprint at the end of a race, it's another thing to go out and do specific sprint work. There's some coordination involved, obviously some strength, and a lot of determination. Do a few accelerations (moderately big gear so you don't get spun out immediately) under 10 seconds and see what your 5 second and peak power numbers are, it may be that you have another dimension available to your racing.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

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    phew looks like I cän sprint, no problem. I just have to do that in races.
    https://www.strava.com/activities/37...nts/8885750450

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mose View Post
    There's a lot of great advice here, as I'd expect. One thing I can add is, you have from what I see a pretty decent 1 m power, esp for a cat 5, but you didn't list your 5 - 10 s neuromuscular output.
    5s 720w
    10s 695w

    and thank you for great idea. I just pretty much came to same - wait and shelter till last x meters where I can just launch and then sit on like 340-350w for 5 minutes or so. So launch hard from very behind like 3-4 min before race ends. I'll try it next time. I watched videos you mentioned though, really liked them. Also I've read a book "Racing tactics for cyclists" - book is great but it started to make sense only recently, when I started to try different things and see how all that works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zedmor View Post
    phew looks like I cän sprint, no problem. I just have to do that in races.
    https://www.strava.com/activities/37...nts/8885750450

    You linked to a 1:12 483w uphill effort. That's a fine effort but just so we're all using the same words for things, it's not a sprint (even though the strava segment is named "sprint"). It's more like a 1k attack. So, try that in your next race.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zedmor View Post
    5s 720w
    10s 695w

    and thank you for great idea. I just pretty much came to same - wait and shelter till last x meters where I can just launch and then sit on like 340-350w for 5 minutes or so. So launch hard from very behind like 3-4 min before race ends. I'll try it next time. I watched videos you mentioned though, really liked them. Also I've read a book "Racing tactics for cyclists" - book is great but it started to make sense only recently, when I started to try different things and see how all that works.
    Not to burst your bubble, but that's not a sprint.

    This is a sprint:
    FinishSprint.png

    You need to hit at *least* 1000w for 5s for it to be a real sprint. If you want to contest a sprint against others who can sprint, you need to be hitting at least 1200w.

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