rider of small bicycles
The race roles we play
I'm hoping to infuse some organization and enthusiasm into our team this year. I'm distributing a flier asking for a list of personal priority races for the year as well as personal goals. Some guys will take this well whereas others may not. In any case, I've also asked each guy to identfy races that he wants to win and others where he can play domestique for the day. Toward that end, I intend to include a list of responsibilities associated with each role. Here's what I have so far. I'm looking for more info to fill out these descriptions. Please feel free to add to either list.
The role of team leader for the day;
1. Survey the course and/or understand where the best points to attack are.
2. Stay toward the front.
3. Identify the big race threats and be vigilant for breaks involving them.
4. Attack when the time is right, or
5. position yourself for the sprint finish
6. Conserve energy
7. more ...
The role of domestique for the day;
1. Protect the race leader by providing a draft (help him conserve energy)
2. Slow the pace of the peloton if our man is in the break (various techniques)
3. Lead out our man for primes if possible and for the final sprint. Pull off to the left by default, but be aware that it is illegal to change course within 200 yards of the finish line.
4. Watch for mechanicals or crashes that take out our leader (help him to reconnect with the peloton).
5. Chase down breaks when appropriate (need to elaborate)
Personally, If you have more than two 'mates, I would have each attack solo just once during the race. It can make the peloton work for you and wear down the guys that don't want to miss a break, and if the peloton lets it go, then a solo victory for them is still sweet (see Tom Boonen's recent third place victory). Also, if they can stay ahead of the peloton for a bit, you have the option of bridging.
I would also let them have primes and use that as a launching pad for your attack. The peoloton does not want to chase a break right after a prime, and its good to throw bones to the domestiques. Lastly, make sure they push the pace at the front of the peloton for the last 2-3 miles (assuming you have 3) and string it out a bit so that anyone wanting to pass you has to come from behind you.
As the leader, don't blow your sprint on Primes unless you are in a break. Your team does not want to work all day for you only to find out you blew your sprint on a silly prime instead of the win. Also, even if you want a race bad, if you are having a bad day, feel off, or just know that you might not have it, don't try to play the godfather. Surrender the role to a teammate who might have a better shot. Don't try to tough it out at the teams expense, unless you will not get another chance all season.
Oh, and depending on how much you guys REALLY like each other, If there is a technical and you won't be able to get back in, have someone ready to sacrifice their bike over to you so that you can continue. Then buy them a really nice dinner afterwards!
Just my thoughts.
starting pistol means war
What category are you guys racing? That makes a big difference in what kind of tactics you can employ.
Also, what kind of strength has your team shown in the past in that category? If you are one of the stronger teams, you'll more easily be able to go ahead with your offensive moves, but if you are one of the pack-filling teams, you will have to rely more on defensive tactics.
Let me know and I'll see if I can help you with my infinite cat1 wisdom :-)
Just an observation, but assuming you're racing with one of the GVCC teams, it's gonna be tough to get a break away for most of the local races. It seems like you guys have so many teams that there's always one especially willing to chase just to keep a rival team from getting away. Also it'll be really difficult if everyone isn't on board with the plan. We tried something similar last year on a team I was with, but unfortunately you have to have the right mix of personalities and too often egos and adrenaline get in the way of team work.
rider of small bicycles
Thanks guys for some great ideas and some answers.
IKYR ... you must be from Western NY? Yea we have a bunch of teams around Rochester, some stronger than others. Ours is definitely one of the strongest for what we represent (a bunch of cat 4's on the way to cat 3's). If we weren't, I wouldn't even entertain the idea of tactics. And race control is absolutely doable. We did it on several occasions last year and can do it again this year. The biggest hurdle I see is convincing guys to embrace the role of domestique for the day. It seems that everyone want to win every time they line up at the start line. Also, I want my teammates to understand their responsibilities upon accepting their role. I feel like this can all be worked out prior to the race to avoid confusion on race day. The team that brings tactics to the table, no matter how succesful they are in the end, just HAS to have an advantage assuming the legs are there.
if everone is that strong roles aren't all that worthwhile unless you're racing a stage race. I ride with a club that routinely controls the cat 3 and 4 races in the area. We define loose roles at every race, though it basically comes to down to finishers and 'workers.' Workers then usually split themselves up again, guys who work the first half and guys who work the second. We usually have the weaker guys (mind you guys understand who is stronger and who isn't, we don't just tell someone they suck) work the first half, attacking and covering attacks, maybe send one of our strong guys out on an early break depending on the field. The stronger guys generally work the second half, again doing the same thing, though they also will make up the leadout train if needed, these guys generally can finish a race if needed, its usally just the finish isnt optimal for their riding (say myself in a flat field sprint). Then we have finishers, who generally get free reign, depending on the squad there might be none or once we had three (stage race), they might be waiting for a sprint or for the right moment to attack the field, but when they go, the team does its damnest to make sure that guy wins.
But none of its cemented, things are fluid and we communicate a lot, so if someones feeling good or bad it gets taken into account. We also talk with other teams to get breaks to work, and always *always* attack the hell out of the field.
Yes, the cat levels as well as the over fitness of each rider matters a lot with tactics. Whoever said that fitness comes second over race tactics is a complete ......... A pack fill team, well, all they could do is just sit and can't really control the race. Second, if the riders lack the mental focus to train properly, I doubt that they will follow through their responsibilities. If riders are not confident with their fitness and abilities, they have no tactics to use, period.
Originally Posted by YMCA
rider of small bicycles
Pinky ... how's your calendar shaping up for '06? Are you going back to Thater?
Thanks for the comments. I like the idea of "finishers" and "workers." It sounds less rigid in that more than one guy can be a "finisher" for the day and increase the chances for a team win. Furthermore, it's language that a weaker team member can "buy into" and still feel like he's making a positive contribution. I also like the idea of splitting the workers into early and late efforts. Thanks for the comments.
06 will be busy, more collegiate racing, plus this year there's a block of 4 (i think) stage races in a row, which will keep things insane-ish. My major focus is having the points for a 2 upgrade by Fitchburg so I can hop afterwards like I did last season. Thater is much too far off to think about, but if my way is payed like last year I'll probably be there.