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Old 03-02-06, 09:44 PM   #1
PolishPostal
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Non-Team Tactics (Unattached Rider)

Another current thread is discussing team tactics. Well for those of us unattached I would like some advice on non-team tactics.

Tactics for an unattached rider in a field that includes one or more teams. Tactics in a field with little team presence. How should tactics very from CAT 5 to 4 to 3 etc?

I'm currently racing CAT 5. I was in the race with Lowcel on Feb 26. That CAT 5 field had 2 teams well represented. One team with 5 or 6 rides and another with 3 or 4 rides. They were covering ever attack so there was no way to get away from the field. They even chased when both of their teams were represented in the break, go figure.

Thank.
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Old 03-02-06, 10:50 PM   #2
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Bad news: if they're well-organized and taught, then you'll have to cover everything. If not fit enough, then you'll have to play your odds and go with the ones that look dangerous (if you got power, then you can try to bridge if you miss something, too). Or, you're gonn'a have to sprint for scraps after the breaks take 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. No shame in that ).

Good news if you're a strong climber on a hilly course: take their strong guy (so they'll block) and NEVER drop the bastard until it's time. I say it's like being a terrorist--you are under-staffed, so you gott'a hijack and leverage THEIR resources. Worked really good for my buddy (I wasn't strong enough to support him, so he basically rode for himself, causing breaks and taking along team leaders). You scratch their back, and they scratch yours. Until the finish line comes up....Good luck!

phong
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Old 03-03-06, 03:03 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by PolishPostal
They were covering ever attack so there was no way to get away from the field. They even chased when both of their teams were represented in the break, go figure.
Uh, I don't think there's such a thing as team-tactics in cat-5 or cat-4. You just single out the strongest guys regardless of team and stick to their wheels. They'll lead you out for the win at the finish.

In the 3s, there may be some rudimentary tactics, nothing that can really be considered "team". More like basic lead-outs and coasting blocking around the corners. It's only in the 1/2/Pro races that you see every single team member come to the front and ride at 0.25mph slower than the break when one of their guys is in it. If you're not on a strong team in these races, you don't have much of a chance.
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Old 03-03-06, 06:38 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
Uh, I don't think there's such a thing as team-tactics in cat-5 or cat-4. You just single out the strongest guys regardless of team and stick to their wheels. They'll lead you out for the win at the finish.

In the 3s, there may be some rudimentary tactics, nothing that can really be considered "team". More like basic lead-outs and coasting blocking around the corners. It's only in the 1/2/Pro races that you see every single team member come to the front and ride at 0.25mph slower than the break when one of their guys is in it. If you're not on a strong team in these races, you don't have much of a chance.
+1. There are no team tactics in the 5s. You saw it yourself when you say they chased down their own teammate's breaks.

Sometimes people can get a little overanalytical about these things. Draft a strong wheel. Don't do any work. Be there at the end.

Bob
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Old 03-03-06, 10:07 AM   #5
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Uh, I don't think there's such a thing as team-tactics in cat-5 or cat-4. You just single out the strongest guys regardless of team and stick to their wheels. They'll lead you out for the win at the finish.

Our team is pretty strong and we use tactics in every race. Last week I never took a pull and always had a team mate to pull me to bridge a gap. We sent two guys up the road and made the other riders work to bring them back. If you are smart and have a strong team you can have team tactics at any level.
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Old 03-03-06, 10:28 AM   #6
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You can look at this another way. As an unattached rider, especially when "Teams" start trying to control a race, you owe nobody nothing. You don't owe a pull, a block, nothing. When racing unattached (or out of your area w/o team) stay close to the front, do not work, jump the wheel of any breaks or bridges you consider promising, Stay out of the wind late in the race, pick a good wheel and sprint.
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Old 03-03-06, 05:27 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Voodoo76
You can look at this another way. As an unattached rider, especially when "Teams" start trying to control a race, you owe nobody nothing. You don't owe a pull, a block, nothing. When racing unattached (or out of your area w/o team) stay close to the front, do not work, jump the wheel of any breaks or bridges you consider promising, Stay out of the wind late in the race, pick a good wheel and sprint.
That is exactly what needs to be done if riding unattached. It worked for me, you do not owe anyone anything.
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Old 03-03-06, 06:31 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
Uh, I don't think there's such a thing as team-tactics in cat-5 or cat-4. You just single out the strongest guys regardless of team and stick to their wheels. They'll lead you out for the win at the finish.

In the 3s, there may be some rudimentary tactics, nothing that can really be considered "team". More like basic lead-outs and coasting blocking around the corners. It's only in the 1/2/Pro races that you see every single team member come to the front and ride at 0.25mph slower than the break when one of their guys is in it. If you're not on a strong team in these races, you don't have much of a chance.
-1

I respectfully disagree. Of course, the last time I rode was in the late 80's. Our Cat 4 team (about 8 of us if I remember correctly) could do some serious damage to the peloton, when there was a large field of riders. We controlled the entire race. It was the best time I've ever had while racing.

Now, things could be different now, although I don't know how they would be.
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Old 03-03-06, 06:41 PM   #9
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Safe to say that there can be, and may be (although unlikely) 'tactics' in a cat V or IV race. I'd work on developing major snap and a super 2-3 min effort so you can bridge up to bonnafide breaks w/o bringing anyone else along. Knowing how to conserve energy & sprint well will also help you win in those cats.
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Old 03-03-06, 07:29 PM   #10
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My USCF racing experience is limited to 4, cat. 5 races last summer (2 RRs and 2 crits), but I can say that, at least in those 4 events in Central Ohio, there were most definitely very deliberate, planned, team tactics in play. Blocking, leads outs, organized retrievals of breakaways, etc. Not that these couldn't have been better done. Not that they could have been more effective. But tactics were there.

At least in our backyard, riding unattached puts you at a very real disadvantage. There are several teams in Central Ohio that have large numbers riders who are 4s and 5s, and oftentimes those fields are combined, so you can have several large teams well represented in a field. I don't think that completely ignoring the fact teams are out there trying to work together in the race is a very viable strategy, even in a lowly cat. 5 event. Figuring out how to deal with this issue is what I think the OP is getting at.

Personally, I've tried the "ride the entire field off your wheel" approach. Didn't work for me. I'll give it another shot sometime, I'm sure, but it's low percentage.

I've also chatted up other strong unattached riders in the pack and tried to work with them in organizing breaks. Some success there. Of course, once you pull that off, you're a marked man in future events and you'll get run down in short order.

Very interested in other suggestions that might bear more fruit than my aimlessly jerking around out there....
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Old 03-04-06, 12:08 AM   #11
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The days of learning team tactics when you get to 3's are over in NorCal. That happened two years ago, when Webcor decided to focus on dominating the lower cats. And other teams responded. The cat4's are now very team-oriented in our area. Sometimes, you can actually hear a team leader teach during a race. The inflation continues.
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Old 03-04-06, 01:57 AM   #12
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Most Cat 4 & 5 races are pretty much every person for themselves.. I have even seen teammates chase each other down.. The best strategy is stay in front 1/3 of the field, stay out of trouble. Find out what you are better at, the 200m sprint or if you can put the hammer down and hold your speed for 400-500m, then go for a long sprint and hold on..
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Old 03-04-06, 12:14 PM   #13
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Here's my definition of "team work":

1. First, you pick one winner of the upcoming race. ONE guy is designated to win and EVERYONE works to help him win. This is the very, very first step because ALL other strategies will develop from who this guy is. Based upon his strengths & weaknesses, the tactics you come up with will be to play up his strengths and downplay his weaknesses.

2. You reki the course weeks beforehand. You practice leadouts on the actual finishing straight to see how far and how fast your designated winner can do the sprint. If he's a strong sprinter, it's gonna be hard to lead him out, you might want to fake a leadout way early to draw out the sprinters from the other teams to put your guy on their wheels instead of yours. If he's a weak sprinter, then you'd want to put him on one of your strongest sprinters. On long straights, you may want him to leapfrog behind 2-3 guys on the leadout, this may be all guys from your team, or maybe playing off some of the other teams.

3. You practice breaks and time which combinations are fastest. You do TTT training in pairs and see which combinations are fastest. Billy-Bob and Jimbo may be a faster combination then Jimbo and Billy-Joe. You know all the speeds of all the combinations so that when there's a chance for a break in a race and Jimbo's in it, you know that it should be Billy-Bob that goes with him, not Billy-Joe. And unless you have radio-communications, you should also know what speeds each group can achieve in a break, be it 27.5mph or 28.2mph, whatever. That speed should be known for every combination so that the rest of the "team" in the pack will ride at 0.25mph slower.

I've seen way more teamwork in collegiate C & D races than I've ever seen in USCF; at least not until the 1/2/Pro level. A bunch of guys riding next to each other in a race wearing the same jerseys in a race is not a "team"... As an unattached rider, you'd be better staying near the front and keying off the strongest guys regardless of their "team".

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 03-04-06 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 03-04-06, 02:59 PM   #14
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Its only a disadvantage if you let it be. Think in terms of placing if you are outmanned. You don't have to win or necessarly race to win every race, just ignore all the "team tactics" going on around you and stay in good position. You know who the good guys are, stick with them and dont work.

Danno, I would only disagree with picking a winner ahead of time, In my experience this is setting your team up for disaster. I would consider a good team race to be 4 or 5 in the top ten, rather than everyone sacrifice themselves for one winner. Your odds of winning go up dramatically in this scenario. My experience is that teams playing the odds rather than trying to make a specific strategy work have more success. See "Coors Light" in the early to mid 90's for an example.
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Old 03-04-06, 03:55 PM   #15
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Have you thought about joining a team?

Once you upgrade to 4, you will get hit iwth the 5 buck unattached fee (the lone exception, training races). It adds up if you race alot.

While i agree with Danno about 4/5 races being not much in the tactic dept, joining a squad with a large number of higher cat guys will do wonders for your speed and skill. The commraderie of a team is also a very good moral and confindence booster too. The lone wolf stuff gets old quick. Trust me, I know.
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Old 03-06-06, 09:14 PM   #16
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I notice a few of you guys are from SoCal. If possible (and if you haven't upgraded to 3 already), you should make the drive to Norcal and do a popular cat4 race (like yesterday's Maclane or the up-coming Wente). I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Watch how Webcor sets it up. And as for Dano's wishes, no, a lot of what he says is silly. My group does all that and discuss all kinds of tactics, but it's often BS. Just an excuse to hang with the homies and get a workout in. Unless the guys draw a team salary, you can hardly get them to freakin' pre-register ahead of time. Sure, we recon, simulate, we switch guys and practice leadouts, etc, etc, etc. Then guess what? You and the other slow guy are the only guys there on race day. And the guys you depend on? They somehow always manage to free the day up when it's a race they like...but when it's another guy's turn to go for the win, they somehow always seem to "get that phone call" from the boss or wife or relative. In my group, I don't see too many of my climber guys at the fast races, but us fatter guys seem to show up to the climbing races to help cover breaks. The teams that put it together are big ones--only 8 strong guys out of 18 show up....but that's still 8 guys who can set it up. Sorry for the rant ).
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Old 03-06-06, 09:34 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by phatphong
I notice a few of you guys are from SoCal. If possible (and if you haven't upgraded to 3 already), you should make the drive to Norcal and do a popular cat4 race (like yesterday's Maclane or the up-coming Wente). I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Watch how Webcor sets it up. And as for Dano's wishes, no, a lot of what he says is silly.
Yep, yep and yep. I've watched and been in enough UCSF races here in NorCal where team tactics, even in the 4's and 5's, came into play. A lot of teams don't have a strong leader or know what they are doing, all the way up to ProTour teams. But that doesn't mean there aren't any folks working them correctly at the lower levels. I know my team does.

Best thing to do is keep your eyes open, try to stay at the front, and jump on the breaks you think will work. It doesn't hurt to cajole and shame teams into reeling in the opposition BTW. And there are times when you can use team tactics, especially if they are racing negatively, to your advantage by taking a flyer. Sometimes if teams are marking each other you can roll off and catch them by surprise. It's worked for me.

Last edited by Vinokurtov; 03-06-06 at 11:33 PM.
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Old 03-07-06, 01:42 AM   #18
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webcor... ha ha, our socal team did a race up there last year, webcor rode the front for the first lap of three and then disappeared. that was some great team work, us- no team work, just rode fast the last mile and got 3 of the top 5
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Old 03-07-06, 06:12 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by phatphong
IMy group does all that and discuss all kinds of tactics, but it's often BS. Just an excuse to hang with the homies and get a workout in. Unless the guys draw a team salary, you can hardly get them to freakin' pre-register ahead of time. Sure, we recon, simulate, we switch guys and practice leadouts, etc, etc, etc. Then guess what? You and the other slow guy are the only guys there on race day. And the guys you depend on? They somehow always manage to free the day up when it's a race they like...but when it's another guy's turn to go for the win, they somehow always seem to "get that phone call" from the boss or wife or relative.
That's the difference between cat-4/5 and 1/2/Pros. It's a catch-22 in a way, like getting to cat-1 as a 2, you gotta be able to beat the 1s to score points... The ones who think and work like the upper categories will be able to climb out of the lower ranks.

It's a lot like making a speech presentation. Sure you can write out a perfect script word-for-word, but it's often way too rigid. Life always turns out differently from how you planned. Better to come up with 5-8 different scenarios, rehearse them all. Then at the appropriate times, switch game-plans based upon what's actually happening. Rather than being caught by surprise, you've already developed a plan of what to do when your lead-out guy Billy-Bob drops out with a flat or a couple guys are stuck in the back. At least if you've got the plans set up so that you've got 4-5 guys at the front, most of them will be there trying to work on a plan, rather than just hanging out in a race. It's chess on wheels.
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Old 03-07-06, 08:45 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
It's a lot like making a speech presentation. Sure you can write out a perfect script word-for-word, but it's often way too rigid. Life always turns out differently from how you planned. Better to come up with 5-8 different scenarios, rehearse them all. Then at the appropriate times, switch game-plans based upon what's actually happening.
Easier just to have your teammates understand what good position is. If everyone is in a good position the "Scenarios" happen, any race situation can be made to work in your favor, team or no team.

Example: Im "the finisher" on a team with 2 other decent sprinters. 1km (circut race) to go I get wiped off the wheel of my leadout. Too late to reload but I trust that my mates are where they should be, so I put my head down and string out the pack, no hesitation no chat. Result 2nd (by a tire), 3rd, 5th (me), 6th (leadout man). A good effort by any measure. Back on topic the winner of this race was unattached, he marked the best Team sprinter in the race and got lucky.

My experience has been that teams who discuss tactics, eg im gonna do this and you do that, are less successfull than teams who discuss and really understand position.
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Old 03-07-06, 11:37 AM   #21
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Theres probably not going to be much organization in a cat 4-5 criterium. If there isn't, usually what happens is the pack will sit up until someone goes off the front and then chase them down. This will go on and on.

If thats the race, then try this, it has worked for me. Just sit in in the top 10-20 places, go to the front if the flow is that way but don't tow the pack! And don't chase down someone that goes off the front. Let someone else do it. Save your energy.

If its still one big pack at the end, usually everyone waits till right before the end to sprint for the finish. Usually a corner or two before the finish.

This has worked for me. Take off early, say 5 or 6 corners before the finish. Pick the corner and attack 25 meters or so before the corner, so that the corner slows down everone in back of you. Put your head down and don't look back!

If its a typical cat 4-5 pack, no one will chase you down because they figure you won it and don't want to waste the energy and they will try for second. If thats the case, you win. If they chase you down or you blow up, thats racing. I'd rather try something and have it fail than get stuck in a mass sprint where your chances of placing are dictated by who you get stuck in back of or next to. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
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Old 03-07-06, 12:42 PM   #22
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Theres probably not going to be much organization in a cat 4-5 criterium. If there isn't, usually what happens is the pack will sit up until someone goes off the front and then chase them down. This will go on and on.

If thats the race, then try this, it has worked for me. Just sit in in the top 10-20 places, go to the front if the flow is that way but don't tow the pack! And don't chase down someone that goes off the front. Let someone else do it. Save your energy.

If its still one big pack at the end, usually everyone waits till right before the end to sprint for the finish. Usually a corner or two before the finish.

This has worked for me. Take off early, say 5 or 6 corners before the finish. Pick the corner and attack 25 meters or so before the corner, so that the corner slows down everone in back of you. Put your head down and don't look back!

If its a typical cat 4-5 pack, no one will chase you down because they figure you won it and don't want to waste the energy and they will try for second. If thats the case, you win. If they chase you down or you blow up, thats racing. I'd rather try something and have it fail than get stuck in a mass sprint where your chances of placing are dictated by who you get stuck in back of or next to. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Do this only if you are a stronger TTist than a sprinter. Oh and please to save the embarrassment, learn how to attack. I don't know how many people I have seen "attack" or try to "bridge" and they just end up dragging the entire pack along with them. Is attacking something that is not taught anymore in the lower levels?
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Old 03-07-06, 02:57 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Voodoo76
Example: Im "the finisher" on a team with 2 other decent sprinters. 1km (circut race) to go I get wiped off the wheel of my leadout. Too late to reload but I trust that my mates are where they should be, so I put my head down and string out the pack, no hesitation no chat. Result 2nd (by a tire), 3rd, 5th (me), 6th (leadout man). A good effort by any measure. Back on topic the winner of this race was unattached, he marked the best Team sprinter in the race and got lucky.
At least you had a plan. A lead-out guy and finisher's better than nothing. Or sitting around waiting for the finish and all of you trying to hop on the lead guy's wheel at the same time. Your plan at least put several guys near the front to get people into the finish.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Voodoo76
My experience has been that teams who discuss tactics, eg im gonna do this and you do that, are less successfull than teams who discuss and really understand position.
Aren't we talking about two completely different groups of people? Don't the more successful teams have more experience? Newer teams who don't have hundreds of races under their belt needs to talk and discuss scenarios, then try to execute them in the race. You have to learn the tactics at some point in time and it's usually better before the race starts. Which is exactly why we're having this discussion. Better than being completely clueless and trying to figure it out in the race, "Shoot, that guy's attacking with 1-lap to go, what do I do???". The teams with experience don't need to discuss anything, they already know all the scenarios by heart, like knowing how all the chess pieces move, no need to talk about it. Just be in the right position to pull off the right move at the right time. But you have to learn the moves first.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DrWJODonnell
Oh and please to save the embarrassment, learn how to attack. I don't know how many people I have seen "attack" or try to "bridge" and they just end up dragging the entire pack along with them. Is attacking something that is not taught anymore in the lower levels?
That's because newbies don't train hard enough. Their efforts in races are tougher than anything they've done in training. They have no idea how many seconds they can push at 100%, so they can't push it that hard 5-seconds short of blowing up. They've tried 100% before and been completely shelled. So they play it safe and just push 80%...

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 03-07-06 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 03-07-06, 03:37 PM   #24
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The team I am on uses tactics with cat 4 riders but only those who have been racing in cat 4 for 2+ years.
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Old 03-07-06, 03:50 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrWJODonnell
I don't know how many people I have seen "attack" or try to "bridge" and they just end up dragging the entire pack along with them. Is attacking something that is not taught anymore in the lower levels?
If you're on the front occasionally just "rolling off" is more effective, especially on climbs. The only people who catch on to what's going on are the people directly behind or next to you. Everybody else is just following a wheel. Little trick a pro 1/2 guy told me that's worked to get a gap.
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