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  1. #1
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    Criterium Tactics -- Bell (Last) Lap

    Alright, time for a strategy discussion

    Last lap tactics discussion...

    So here we are, the cards are out, the pace quickens. You have been religiously sticking in the front, the top 10 or so, trying to get ready for the sprint. The last lap comes and as usual the pace gets crazy...

    What do you do? Hold back a little and grab a wheel and start the sprint early? Go all out and try and get huge posistion for the sprint?

    Also when do you sprint? Go early or wait? How far from the line?

    Or just go off the front and hope you are fast enough?
    Just your average club rider... :)

  2. #2
    Senior Member socalrider's Avatar
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    Well by your last post it sounds like you do not have the top end speed to be contesting sprints.. You need to be sprinting in the mid to high 30's to have a shot..

    A good tactic if you do not have good top end speed, is to attack early and if you can hold mid 30's speed for 400-500 meters you have a chance of placing..

  3. #3
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    Tighten shoes, take a drink, sit 4th-6th, drop the 11 BEFORE the final corner (unless it's 400m to go) if you can corner fast enough and jam it to the line.

    Sit up with 15 m to go and show off the sponsor....

  4. #4
    Coastal NC oneradtec's Avatar
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    If you want to go off the front...I don't think it makes sense to do it after the bell. I think that should be done before you reach the last lap. The pace is just to crazy at that point. You want to catch them by surprise.There is often a lull in the pace leading up to the final laps. I once won a crit this way...although I didn't do it intentionally. I was pedaling at the front a little faster than the others. I looked back and realized that I had a gap. At that point I didn't do anything but just maintained my pace. I looked back again and the gap had increased. Then I went for it. All out! I had to bury myself for what seemed like 3 laps. The crowd really got into it on the last lap because the chase was getting close and it seemed everyone was screaming for me to hold them off. Coming out of the last corner and heading for the line....I could see a few riders coming up to me like really fast. It was as if I was standing still. I was totally spent and was really struggling to get to the line. As it turns out.. I won by perhaps 6 inches. This victory happend to me as a cat 5..and reminds me alot of you because I had been struggling all spring. I was usually getting dropped at every crit....but I was training hard and was enthusiastic about racing. Anyway..the week before this win.. I had done a crit in Hilton head, SC and it was the first time that I finished with the group ever! I was finding my form it seemed... finally! Then, as I illustrated above, I won the following week and had some very good results after that as well. So it seems that you also might be hitting that point now as well where you just enter your stride. It's like majic...where all of a sudden it just starts to click for you. That majic moment! Perhaps that is happening to you at this moment.

    In many cases...the race is not won on the last lap...but is won by how smart you ride the whole race. Strategy doesn't begin on the last lap. I can remember a guy who was sooo strong. He would ride the entire crit at the back...just staying out of the wind. Conserving himself completely. Every time they came around to the start/ finish he would always be riding near the back or in the middle. You never ever saw him at the front. Then with two laps to go he would start moving up. By the bell he was always there maybe just 4 or 5 riders from the front. Coming down the stretch he would unleash his sprint and practically ride away from the group and cross the line with arms raised. This didn't always work for him...sometimes there were break aways and such that stole the day. But 'he was willing to lose a few to win alot'. He wasn't going to abandon his strategy no matter. In the movie 'PRO' Fred Rodriguez summed it up very nice when he said sometimes you have to be willing to lose before you can win. So Freddy would stick to his plan and conserve himself and let the attrition of a long 3-5 hour race bring the race to him. If someone got away, he would not abandon his conservative style. he would stick to the plan and if he lost because he didn't order his team to chase at a critical moment...then so be it. He was willing to lose for a chance to win. He would let the other teams chase or he would risk losing.

    The best strategy is to train like an animal and stomp the field on race day. This is easy to do at the cat 4 and cat 5 levels....and a bit harder at the upper categories. If you take racing and training seriously you will rise above the others in the lower categories. Let the competition take place between those who are not nearly as serious as you. If you can't win there(cat 4 and 5) then you will never win as a cat 3 or cat 2.

    Train hard and get lots of racing experience. Then you will know what to do and you will have the form to carry it out physically. It's hard to execute any strategy when you are merely trying to survive. a solid fitness base makes all the difference.

    Being physically stronger than everyone else is about 85% of the game. Most races are won or lost before the race begins in my opinion. No cyclist is going to win every race. The strongest cyclists will however win more than the others...and he will get lucky more often too.

    Something tells me that you have made a step up. We'll see! keep training hard.

  5. #5
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    I think I am going to be working on the longer sprints in the coming weeks to help with my anaerobic endurance. I am able to hit about 33 - 34 MPH on a flat sprint right now, I definitly need lots of force and power work to be sprinting there for extended periods of time or to get higher speeds.

    My muscular endurance is significanly better than before but I need to hit the gym and do more steep hill work to build raw power. I know I have 35+ MPH sprints in my eventually, it will just take time to build to them. Most of you know where I started which is why my sprinting skills and hill climbing strength are not there (yet). The fact that my sprints have gone up 2 - 3 MPH in the last 5 months is a clue that there is lots of potential for me in that area. A good off season in the weight room should make me tremendously stronger...

    Actually I am think about hitting the weight room now as part of training along with sprint training.
    Just your average club rider... :)

  6. #6
    Coastal NC oneradtec's Avatar
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    I would not do weights in season. That's my point of view. Others may disagree. You need your energy for training and racing...and when you are not on the bike you should be resting and eating whenever possible. It takes alot of your energy to do squats and other weights.....and it takes alot of energy to recover from these workouts as well. You are currently training and racing very hard I take it.....so i don't think you should push your body to progress any faster than it is doing it now. We all want it yesterday don't we? But seriously...just try to keep on a slow and steady progression. You are laying it brick by brick...and one day you'll have a sky scraper and you'll be killing everyone else. The cold winter months will be perfect for gym work. But as I said...the season is optimal now for cycling specific stuff like racing, training rides, intervals, sprinting, tempo and such. Your plate is full and your progress is moving forward at an acceptable rate. No need to push it. Patience! skyscraper under construction!!!!!!!

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by my58vw

    Actually I am think about hitting the weight room now as part of training along with sprint training.
    Not necessary unless you're also racing sprint events on the track. Spend the time on the road instead.....it will be more productive.

  8. #8
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    the smart riders have it won long before the bell lap, even if it does come down to a bunch sprint

  9. #9
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    Yes but if you do not know what to do in that last lap then all the tactics going into that (i.e. conserving energy, etc) will not make a world of difference if you lose in the last lap...
    Just your average club rider... :)

  10. #10
    Senior Member Gustaf's Avatar
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    weights wont help now, it takes months (like 6) to feel anything from them.

    i would be very cautious from what you take away from these 'tip' threads, they tend to over generalize the entire racing experience. there is no rule for what you should do in a crit, road race, last lap, break away, start etc. there are so many variables that you cant possibly know ahead of time, weather, how you feel, how your opponents feel, mechanical issues, crashes, formation of breaks. Every crit will be different; every road race will be different.

  11. #11
    Lanterne Rouge simplyred's Avatar
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    My suggestion is practice doing 11th gear sprints for 1000 m long... [try...]

    Then in the 2nd last lap punch it for ~50m as if you were finishing... to scare off the wannabes...

    See who wants to contend in the last lap and frappe the competition....

    This will only work if you're in the condition to do it...

  12. #12
    Elitist Jackass Smoothie104's Avatar
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    always take the wind speed and direction into consideration.

  13. #13
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    good god. you guys and your analysis. My two cents, work your ass off to get position in the top 10 at minimum, top 5 if possible, and regarding when to go, i'd suggest just not being the first to go, but rather, be the quickest to react to the first to go, grab his wheel as hard as you can and don't wait a second when you can pass him, and then balls to the wall to the line. i have absolutely no idea what speed i sprint at other than i'm always closing the gap going into the finish if i'm behind, once went from 20th to 8th in the final 100 meters of a race. for reference, i'm a relatively small guy at 5'9 145

  14. #14
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    who wins a sprint finish without a leadout/draft of some kind? I say forget this breakaway business--you're a big dude, you should be able to produce enough watts to stay on the lead sprinter's wheel and then pass him in the last 25m. Unless he's Bettini. FWIW I suggest watching the Giro sprint finishes, they are great. You'll also see that the poor fool on the breakaway ALWAYS gets caught. If you're gonna go you better take someone with you.

  15. #15
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bunnyrabbit
    who wins a sprint finish without a leadout/draft of some kind? I say forget this breakaway business--you're a big dude, you should be able to produce enough watts to stay on the lead sprinter's wheel and then pass him in the last 25m. Unless he's Bettini. FWIW I suggest watching the Giro sprint finishes, they are great. You'll also see that the poor fool on the breakaway ALWAYS gets caught.
    Enough watts... not yet peak wise...

    Where am I...

    6'6", 223 pounds

    Leg pressing 240 pounds
    Leg extenstions (quads) - 105 pounds
    Leg curls (hamstrings) - 100 pounds
    Squats - DO not remember

    Basically I am not all that strong any where on my body. If you knew where I came I have improved greatly... just think 5 years of no major physical activity. As I work on the bike those values are going higher and higher... that is why I need a winter of weight training under me...

    As for peak watts... no idea but I would like to find out.
    Just your average club rider... :)

  16. #16
    Theodore Roosevelt's idol TheKillerPenguin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by my58vw
    Enough watts... not yet peak wise...

    Where am I...

    6'6", 223 pounds

    Leg pressing 240 pounds
    Leg extenstions (quads) - 105 pounds
    Leg curls (hamstrings) - 100 pounds
    Squats - DO not remember

    Basically I am not all that strong any where on my body. If you knew where I came I have improved greatly... just think 5 years of no major physical activity. As I work on the bike those values are going higher and higher... that is why I need a winter of weight training under me...

    As for peak watts... no idea but I would like to find out.
    Dude, it doesn't matter how strong your legs are really.
    I'm 6'2'', 166lbs right now
    I can leg press 450 max right now
    I can extend 140+ max right now
    I can leg curl around 100 max right now

    You are capable of much more than me and you weigh much more than me. It is definatly not purely strength, it's conditioning and LT and all those other things you've been training. Keep going at those and you'll get even better at them. You're doing awesome.
    Masochism is a training adaptation.

  17. #17
    Blast from the Past Voodoo76's Avatar
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    Choosing the right wheel to be on is as important as any other tactic listed. You don't need to have a great sprint to ride the right wheel to 4th or 5th, the flip side is you can be the fastest dude in the field and get swamped if your wheel backs up at the wrong time. Spend a little less time thinking about Watts, ect and a little more assesing who is around you, it will pay off.

  18. #18
    Theodore Roosevelt's idol TheKillerPenguin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Voodoo76
    Choosing the right wheel to be on is as important as any other tactic listed. You don't need to have a great sprint to ride the right wheel to 4th or 5th, the flip side is you can be the fastest dude in the field and get swamped if your wheel backs up at the wrong time. Spend a little less time thinking about Watts, ect and a little more assesing who is around you, it will pay off.
    Word. On some of the group rides you do, practice getting on someone's wheel when they make a move and slingshot around them.
    Masochism is a training adaptation.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bunnyrabbit
    You'll also see that the poor fool on the breakaway ALWAYS gets caught. If you're gonna go you better take someone with you.
    Winning on a long solo break is one of the most amazing feats in cycling, and it DOES indeed happen although rarely.

  20. #20
    Focus on the future alison_in_oh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sat_cycle
    Winning on a long solo break is one of the most amazing feats in cycling, and it DOES indeed happen although rarely.
    *cough*Paul Martin*cough*

  21. #21
    Blast from the Past Voodoo76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sat_cycle
    Winning on a long solo break is one of the most amazing feats in cycling, and it DOES indeed happen although rarely.
    I dont think the "long solo break" exists in Cat 5 criterium racing. I beleive we were talking about "Going from the Bell", which can work. However I have yet to meet a rider who was capable of this and at the same time was also not capable of taking the sprint straight up. You need just as much speed.

  22. #22
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    I dont think the "long solo break" exists in Cat 5 criterium racing. I beleive we were talking about "Going from the Bell", which can work. However I have yet to meet a rider who was capable of this and at the same time was also not capable of taking the sprint straight up. You need just as much speed.
    Not necessarly too... if 1/3 of the race breakaway is not long then what is. In the last race once I got off the front I was able to hold it... winning a sprint and holding a major gap is not quite the same thing IMO, a rider with good muscular endurance can stay away but may not have huge sprint power.
    Just your average club rider... :)

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by my58vw
    winning a sprint and holding a major gap is not quite the same thing IMO, a rider with good muscular endurance can stay away but may not have huge sprint power.

    Correct. It's definitely not the same thing.

    For some racers, this may be their only option to try and snag a win.

  24. #24
    Elitist Jackass Smoothie104's Avatar
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    Holding it when there are 3 laps to go, is much different than trying to hold it on the last half of the last lap. a lot can happen in 3 laps, wheras the last half of the last lap, almost every accleration will be deemed a race winning move and quickly followed if possible. I won last year attacking with 2 to go, and held it till the end. Sometimes, luck favors the bold.


    If we see a solo flyer with 3 to go, we try and keep him out there frying himself as long as possible, but always close enough to snuff out if needed.

  25. #25
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    Anyone ever lapped the field, solo? I've only ever seen it a couple of times at elite level.

    That's maximum cool points.

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