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  1. #1
    Senior Member Duke of Kent's Avatar
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    Women's racing tactics

    So I was watching the Geelong round of the womens UCI world cup today on cycling.tv, and I couldn't help but feel that the women, regardless of their physical characteristics, race in a style very different from male professionals.

    Example 1: When one woman jumps across or starts a break, it seems like she rarely gets any company. Why?

    Example 2: The big teams never seem to put anyone in the breaks. If they do, it's in response to a break, not initiating one. If they have the firepower to burn, why not get people up the road left and right?

    Example 3: Oenone Wood, who is a bad ass, literally rode away from the entire peloton on the climb. It was only about 1k long. How does that happen?

    Example 4: Terrible rotation/cooperation in breaks. Maybe they were all tired but whenever a break would get a lead, it seemed like they all had trouble keeping a smooth rotation going.

    I noticed a bit of most of these in the women's races I saw this summer. I realize the testosterone effect is not in play, but they just seem to let the race come to them instead of taking it by the horns. Is it just a difference in mentality or is the depth (talent pool) just not there, and the same people always win the races?
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    Depth of talent and they know it. Only a few think they have a chance to win and the rest are just making them look slow.

  3. #3
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Depth of talent is relative to who's in the pack. The number of exceptional riders relative to the peloton probably isn't much different than men's races. Neither would be the spread between top & bottom riders. I suspect there's something deeper. As the Duke mentioned, hormonal levels has a lot to do with one's agressiveness and competitive responses. Just take a look at the difference action & strategies in tennis between the men's vs. women's games. In the finals, both players are very closely matched.

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    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    I think a lot of women also come into bike racing later in life (compared to men) and don't have as much experience in making the race happen the way they want, even if they have the strength.

    It's very noticable on the track, where a lot of the women are roadies who their national federations have gotten onto the track recently-- you can see the difference in how they manage the race compared to the more experienced trackies.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Duke of Kent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    Depth of talent is relative to who's in the pack. The number of exceptional riders relative to the peloton probably isn't much different than men's races. Neither would be the spread between top & bottom riders. I suspect there's something deeper. As the Duke mentioned, hormonal levels has a lot to do with one's agressiveness and competitive responses. Just take a look at the difference action & strategies in tennis between the men's vs. women's games. In the finals, both players are very closely matched.
    I was just amazed to see people getting blown out the back when the pack was going maybe 25mph down a long straight. It was not a technical crit where they had to jump hard out of every corner and there was no accordion effect taking its toll.

    Another thing I have noticed is that the same people are always at the front, and it seems like the rest are incapable of doing anything other than being pack fodder. In every ProTour race, most, if not all of those guys are more than capable getting into a 5-man break and making it stick for 50km+, even if they get reeled in with 5km to go. And aside from Jens Voight, its rarely the same people. Always a new face, from a lot of teams. Not so with the women, as it seems its the usual suspects, over and over again.
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  6. #6
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    I think it's also just a matter of the individual personalities in any particular race, who they're racing against, and how they see their relative strengths and weaknesses. I brought my little boy to the world cup (his first time ever seeing track racing), and he found the first scratch race heat for the woman to be very disappointing. "Why isn't anybody doing anything? Why are they going so slow?" There weren't very many breaks, no one tried to take a lap. I suppose a cynic would say it was a very "ladylike" race.

    The second scratch heat was VERY different. Much more aggressive, and a lot more exciting. But then, it was a VERY different group of women.

    The scratch race final was MUCH more to my boy's liking. Fast, aggressive, lots of tactics.

    In talking about it afterwards, I was explaining to him about the difference between qualifying heats and finals -- you don't half to kill yourself to "win" the heat. You just have to come in the top ten or twelve in order to advance. So, there's not so much competition for that one winning spot. His next question, "How can anyone do two races like that in one day -- a qualifying heat and a final? I do one 5km race (cross-country runner), and I'm dead for the rest of the day!" I told him that's another reason why the qualifying heats are not as aggressive as the finals -- the racers are trying to conserve their energy and strength in order to do the second race.

    Also, when you plan your race, you have to take into account your strengths and weaknesses and the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents, and figure out how you can exploit that to your own advantage. Sarah was the overwhelming heavyweight in the race, and I think that skewed everyone's race plan in a completely different direction from what they might have done had she not been there.

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