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  1. #1
    Senior Member skin flute's Avatar
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    Race strategy for the "sit in and wait" crowd

    Gentlemen, I'd like some insight.

    I'm new to racing, and currently ride in what would be the equivalent of Cat 5 in the states, here in Ontario (Senior 4). I've done several races this year and so far they've all panned out the same. Nobody wants to work, nobody wants to try and breakaway; the strong guys sit in for the whole race then hammer it out for the last lap. The average speeds can get downright embarrassing because of this "better you than me attitude"—I think the last was 32kph, for a 25km crit—and on a whole, the race is super boring. In the last race I made several attempts at breaking off the front early on to see if anyone would come up and work with me, but each and every time I was hung out to dry (at which point I drop back to the group because I can't sustain the speeds needed to stay away alone). What would you guys do in this situation? I have no teammates and I've tried inspiring other guys in the front group to stir things up but people seem content with the status quo. This is especially frustrating because there are a couple guys who regularly win because they're strong sprinters but do the bare minimum work throughout the race.

    And yes, I'm familiar with the "keep your nose out of the wind" mantra, but that attitude makes for totally uninspired races. Any solution to this?

  2. #2
    elitist jerk daytonian's Avatar
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    Find some hilly road races.
    I feel like a soiled kleenex dropped in the gutter in the red-light district of Paris.

  3. #3
    Cat WTF
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    Quote Originally Posted by skin flute
    (at which point I drop back to the group because I can't sustain the speeds needed to stay away alone).

    If they are so slow, why can't you stay out? After the initial break you "just" have to average the exact same speed as the group or higher. You don't have to average 25mph if the pack is doing 20, etc.

  4. #4
    Long-time Curmudgeon DrPete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cat4ever
    If they are so slow, why can't you stay out? After the initial break you "just" have to average the exact same speed as the group or higher. You don't have to average 25mph if the pack is doing 20, etc.
    +1. If you can't get away and stay away, maybe the pack isn't as pathetically slow as you think. If you're going to complain about riding in the pack, then you just need to be stronger than everyone else--an easy solution that would undoubtedly lead to more "inspired" racing.
    Last edited by DrPete; 05-13-07 at 03:27 PM.
    "Unless he was racing there was no way he could match my speed."

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrPete
    +1. If you can't get away and stay away, maybe the pack isn't as pathetically slow as you think. If you're going to complain about riding in the pack, then you just need to be stronger than everyone else--an easy solution that would undoubtedly lead to more "inspired" racing.
    But forgetting about the pathetically slow part, the question of how to handle negative racing is valid. It's easily conceivable that it could be very easy for someone to sit in the pack, but impossible for that person to TT away from the field. So what do you do when you find yourself in that middle range where you can get a gap but the pack just chases everything down?

  6. #6
    Long-time Curmudgeon DrPete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asgelle
    But forgetting about the pathetically slow part, the question of how to handle negative racing is valid. It's easily conceivable that it could be very easy for someone to sit in the pack, but impossible for that person to TT away from the field. So what do you do when you find yourself in that middle range where you can get a gap but the pack just chases everything down?
    There aren't many breaks that survive around here, crit or RR, and as a cat 4 in a pretty tough region I feel the OP's pain. So as I see it the options are:

    1. Build up the power to get away and stay away,

    or 2. Become a better sprinter and learn the necessary tactics to win.

    Otherwise, it seems that it would boil down to joining a team that is good with strategy (a rarity in lower cats) or change the attitude of racers in the area. I didn't mean to sound too snooty about it, but it boils down to being smart/strong/lucky enough to win the races you're in.
    "Unless he was racing there was no way he could match my speed."

  7. #7
    Racing iS my Training Pizza Man's Avatar
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    Sit in, don't do any work, then wait until about 2-3 miles to go then attack all out and don't look back for about 30 seconds. If no one goes with you, then just go all out solo to the finish, it should only take you about 5-7 minutes. If like you say, no one wants to work you should be able to stay away.

    This strategy has worked for me about 6 times, but now the other racers are not letting me get away solo anymore.

    Good luck!

    p.s. - Practice this in training. Work on sprinting for 30 sec followed by high speed intervals of 5-7 minutes.

  8. #8
    Senior Member zimbo's Avatar
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    Here's what I would try... It worked for me twice when I was a Cat5.

    Sit in and do as little work as possible. Since everyone seems to want to hammer it out on the last lap, you should take off on the second to last lap during that lull before the storm. Ideally you should start your move from near the front so you can get clear of the group but far back enough that you are going fast enough by the time you get to the front that the people on the front cannot easily grab your wheel. Then ride like a bat out of hell and hope to stay away.

    EDIT: What Pizza Man said... but sometimes it doesn't even need to be a full 5 minutes before the finish. Two minutes has worked for me.

    --Steve

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    Variations on the last two posts.

    Assuming a fairly technical criterium, pick the slowest corner on the course (it has to be pretty close to the finish, however, I wouldn't try staying out there an entire lap) and attack right before it so that you are no1 into that corner.

    Attack as hard as you can right before that corner so that when you have reached max speed on YOUR sprint, you are about 25-50 yards from the corner. Don't be afraid to blow your sprint wad, the more decisive you make the corner attack the less likely that guys will try to chase you down, and if you try this move, you will definitely not have the stregnth to field sprint for the line if you fail, so give it your all.

    Dive into the corner as fast as you possibly can. Use the whole road to keep your corner speed as high as possible. Put your head down, don't look back.

    If it works, you win, if you get a klingon or two, then you got 2nd or 3rd. If you towed the whole field, you need a lot more speed work!

    By the way, this probably won't work in the higher cats, but 4/5, this is killer.
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  10. #10
    Member Bakemono's Avatar
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    My advice would be train so that you get to the point where you are fast enough to break away and stay ahead of everyone else.
    As was said, if they are able to catch back up to you, they obviously arent as slow as you think.
    If these guys are all sprinters, if you can stay on the attack and make them work for the whole race, maybe you can wear them out to the point where they will crack.
    One who conquers himself is greater than another who conquers a thousand times a thousand on the battlefield.
    - The Buddha

  11. #11
    Senior Member skin flute's Avatar
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    I should clarify my original post: I'm not saying I'm faster than everyone else—in fact, there are loads of guys way stronger and faster than myself. What I'm driving at is that few people want to take the initiative in attacking or making aggresive moves until the very end. For instance, there have been times where I've been pulling on the front for 2+ laps, and in attempt to get someone to take a turn have slowed to 25kph, whereupon the entire pack comes to a crawl and not one person jumps out in front. They'd rather cruise at 25 for the whole race and sprint for 150 meters at the end than put in some effort and make things interesting. Correct me if I'm wrong—I'm new after all—but is this racing? In a recent crit one of the guys most notorious for doing zilch until the end was belly aching about the slow pace. WTF?


    It's just frustrating.

    Thanks for the tips so far.

  12. #12
    Senior Member skin flute's Avatar
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    Oh, and out of interest, how many people here make solo breakaways anywhere but the final lap and make them stick?

  13. #13
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    Skin Flute...did you do the island crit today?
    there will come a time when there will not come a time.

  14. #14
    Senior Member skin flute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcates
    Skin Flute...did you do the island crit today?
    Yup.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by skin flute
    Yup.
    I was in that race with you, which jersey were you in?
    there will come a time when there will not come a time.

  16. #16
    Senior Member skin flute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcates
    I was in that race with you, which jersey were you in?

    Hahaha... this is going to get interesting. Midweek.

    and yourself?

  17. #17
    Little Pony obra3's Avatar
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    Advice: Make friends. If you race consistently, you'll see the same faces. Talk to them before the race and say hey, do you want to have fun and go out on a flyer during the race? You'll get to know the folks you race with.
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  18. #18
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    hahah...i was the guy taking pulls with you at the end. In the white sugoi jersey.

    I agree about the breakaways.....the guys who were ahead of us were Masters 3 class, except for the guy who won our class.....and he was a complete sandbagger. The little group we were in (along with the guy in the Red Jersey)....we placed 2nd, 3rd and 4th. .... i think we could have made a break sooner; in hindsight i'd of used slightly different tactics but overall i think we pulled it off at the end.

    here's a pic i'm sure you'll recognize
    Attached Images Attached Images
    there will come a time when there will not come a time.

  19. #19
    Senior Member zimbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skin flute
    For instance, there have been times where I've been pulling on the front for 2+ laps, and in attempt to get someone to take a turn have slowed to 25kph, whereupon the entire pack comes to a crawl and not one person jumps out in front.
    I did the exact same thing at first. It's racing, not group riding. If you ever find yourself on the front you should simply freewheel until someone pulls around--but get ready to sprint and grab a wheel when they do. If you feel like the pace is too slow, start sprinting from somewhere around 5th wheel so that when you pass the folks on the front you're going too fast for them to grab your wheel. Then try to stay away until you either win, get someone to join you, or can see that you're not making any progress.

    --Steve

  20. #20
    Senior Member zimbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcates
    The little group we were in (along with the guy in the Red Jersey)....we placed 2nd, 3rd and 4th. .... i think we could have made a break sooner; in hindsight i'd of used slightly different tactics but overall i think we pulled it off at the end.
    Ok, wait!! The OP made it sound like no breakaways happened in today's race and yet it sounds from your report as though 4 people got off the front (a sandbagger and a group of 3). The photo tends to support the latter story. Which is it?

    --Steve

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by zimbo
    Ok, wait!! The OP made it sound like no breakaways happened in today's race and yet it sounds from your report as though 4 people got off the front (a sandbagger and a group of 3). The photo tends to support the latter story. Which is it?

    --Steve
    the stronger guys who had sat in the whole time took off just before the last lap at which point the field broke up, the OP, myself and a 3rd guy managed to form a group for the last lap.

    that pic was taken at the beginning of the last lap.
    there will come a time when there will not come a time.

  22. #22
    Senior Member skin flute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcates
    hahah...i was the guy taking pulls with you at the end. In the white sugoi jersey.

    I agree about the breakaways.....the guys who were ahead of us were Masters 3 class, except for the guy who won our class.....and he was a complete sandbagger. The little group we were in (along with the guy in the Red Jersey)....we placed 2nd, 3rd and 4th. .... i think we could have made a break sooner; in hindsight i'd of used slightly different tactics but overall i think we pulled it off at the end.

    here's a pic i'm sure you'll recognize

    Hahaha. Amazing. It was a pleasure riding with you (and red jersey fellow) in the last laps. I plan on doing the Niagra Classic next week which apparently has some hills (hallelujah!). Perhaps I'll see you there.

  23. #23
    Senior Member zimbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcates
    the stronger guys who had sat in the whole time took off just before the last lap at which point the field broke up, the OP, myself and a 3rd guy managed to form a group for the last lap.
    that pic was taken at the beginning of the last lap.
    Ok, so it sounds like I envisioned a completely different scenario than what actually happened. I interpreted the OP's remarks to imply that the race ended in a field sprint.

    --Steve

  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    What you could do is push the sprinters to start a bit sooner then they are comfortable with. They know that at the last lap they have to go, and if you take off with 1 1/4 lap left some of the sprinter might go along because they are close enough to their point. If they are not used to that extra 1/4 lap sprint then chances are that they will not be able to keep up.

    This way you have a group with you, and you might have an advantage due to them being out of their comfort zone.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by skin flute
    Hahaha. Amazing. It was a pleasure riding with you (and red jersey fellow) in the last laps. I plan on doing the Niagra Classic next week which apparently has some hills (hallelujah!). Perhaps I'll see you there.
    Likewise, it was good to have you two guys to work with in that last lap.

    Unfortunately i won't be able to make the Niagara Classic but i think i'm going to try and make the K-W Classic. No hills like the Niagara one but it's still a pretty good course. Hopefully by then our club kit will be in so if you see anyone in a LapDogs jersey come and say hello.

    Good luck at Niagara
    there will come a time when there will not come a time.

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