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Old 03-31-08, 05:28 PM   #1
patentcad
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Reflections on the Discovery Train from the back of the Vets Peloton

So after the first regular racing in nearly a decade, I find myself thinking of Lance and his Postal/Discovery boys in the Tour de France all those years. I have a newfound appreciation of precisely how much cycling mojo is required for a team to assemble en masse at the front of any bike race, let alone the Tour de France with the most elite pro cyclists on the planet. Anyone who races on any level knows how hard it can be to stay in the peloton when the gas turns up and it strings out 100+ meters @ 27-30+ mph. Add a few mph and a couple hundred meters to that equation and you get the TdF picture. There's a huge difference between hanging onto a wheel in the middle or back and being the first 10 guys. Let alone have your team BE the first 10 guys driving the train for 50+ miles at a time.

It was always an awesome display of cycling strength, but with this perspective, it takes on new meaning. I've spent some time early on Sunday mornings hanging onto the wheel in front of me, sometimes @ the redline, and when you look up the road and see that paceline stringing out as the elastic stretches, the VO2 Max and concentration all this can require does make you shake your head. Doping, schmoping, what Lance and his teams did in those Tours is just hard to fathom. Any way you slice it a textbook on bike racing tactics and team selection/management. Regardless of any other factors that represents a remarkable level of work/determination and the most amazingly consistent laser-like focus I've ever seen in sports, all in the hardest sporting event I can ever imagine.

Just sayin'.

P.S. Bicycle racing RULES. And elite pro racing does too. Doping may hurt the sport, but it won't kill it. It's far too compelling for that to ever really happen.
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Old 03-31-08, 06:17 PM   #2
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agreed.
Its tough to stay near the front! I am working on this right now and its hard when one team has 7-8 on the front. They can totally dictate the race.
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Old 03-31-08, 06:30 PM   #3
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screw the front. Be a suicide domestique. Race OFF the front. Front is for Wussy.
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Old 03-31-08, 06:32 PM   #4
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I think the lactic acid has seeped into your brain W.
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Old 03-31-08, 06:38 PM   #5
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Yea, remember some P/1/2 crits 50 riders single file, all you can do to close a 1 wheel gap out of a turn. And you wonder who the he** is a the front of this thing? How can you do that to the best riders in the World??
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Old 03-31-08, 06:45 PM   #6
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Doping gives what? A 3% advantage?
being in the front takes more than 3% more power. Even if they were all doped up, they were better trained and dug deeper.
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Old 03-31-08, 06:58 PM   #7
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If most of the pro peloton is doping (as seems to be the general consensus from the Lance era) then doping would confer NO advantage. NOT doping would put a cyclist at a distinct DISadvantage. That's on the other side of the Doping Looking Glass. I hope we're not there anymore, but who knows?
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Old 03-31-08, 07:12 PM   #8
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This is one of your best posts ever. I totally agree, not just about the part about staying at/near the front, but actually getting your team organized at the front. Last year we had 6-7 guys in a handfull of races and couldn't get assembled in the front. This year we are working on this in the training races, it's still tough but when it works the leadout is awesome.
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Old 03-31-08, 07:39 PM   #9
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This is one of your best posts ever. I totally agree, not just about the part about staying at/near the front, but actually getting your team organized at the front. Last year we had 6-7 guys in a handfull of races and couldn't get assembled in the front. This year we are working on this in the training races, it's still tough but when it works the leadout is awesome.
And that's what makes bike racing interesting, even if you're a meatball like me. Because it is a team sport if the team can figure out how to work together. It's not easy, but when it does work it's very cool indeed.
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Old 03-31-08, 07:48 PM   #10
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screw the front. Be a suicide domestique. Race OFF the front. Front is for Wussy.
Alone only with the sound of your own breathing and inner dialog, in a quest for the one true thing.

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Old 03-31-08, 07:53 PM   #11
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I am no racer and have no idea what it feels like to do any of what you mentioned Pcad. I do, however, understand that what those men did was extraordinary! As a fan, it is something beautiful to watch and I am never anything less than awestruck when I see the peloton stretched out like an angry dragon...very cool indeed!
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Old 03-31-08, 08:01 PM   #12
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If most of the pro peloton is doping (as seems to be the general consensus from the Lance era) then doping would confer NO advantage. NOT doping would put a cyclist at a distinct DISadvantage. That's on the other side of the Doping Looking Glass. I hope we're not there anymore, but who knows?
I've thought about that angle, too, and it still stinks. If you figure everyone is doping then what you're left with is not the certainty that the best athlete won but that the best combination of dope and athlete won. For instance, if you've got one guy at 88% and one guy at 94% and they both take the same dope, there's nothing that says their performance is just a +1 off baseline. Mr. 88 might jump to 104 while Mr. 94 can only get to 99.
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Old 03-31-08, 08:07 PM   #13
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Alone only with the sound of your own breathing and inner dialog, in a quest for the one true thing.

Alone.

Alone.

Alone.
When you get shelled you're 'Alone'.

Is that what you're talking about?

You guys are really the Road Nazi friggin Elite.
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Old 03-31-08, 08:07 PM   #14
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I've thought about that angle, too, and it still stinks. If you figure everyone is doping then what you're left with is not the certainty that the best athlete won but that the best combination of dope and athlete won. For instance, if you've got one guy at 88% and one guy at 94% and they both take the same dope, there's nothing that says their performance is just a +1 off baseline. Mr. 88 might jump to 104 while Mr. 94 can only get to 99.
Do you actually have a point? Do you enjoy pissing into hurricanes? Can you alter the fabric of time and space by merely being British?

Whether it stinks or not, it's history, and we can't change it. All cycling can do is go forward, but they seem to be making a complete cluster *** out of that regardless. None of this changes my overall observation, that the dominance of Lance's teams in the TdF was amazing to behold.

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Old 03-31-08, 08:09 PM   #15
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So after the first regular racing in nearly a decade, I find myself thinking of Lance and his Postal/Discovery boys in the Tour de France all those years. I have a newfound appreciation of precisely how much cycling mojo is required for a team to assemble en masse at the front of any bike race, let alone the Tour de France with the most elite pro cyclists on the planet. Anyone who races on any level knows how hard it can be to stay in the peloton when the gas turns up and it strings out 100+ meters @ 27-30+ mph. Add a few mph and a couple hundred meters to that equation and you get the TdF picture. There's a huge difference between hanging onto a wheel in the middle or back and being the first 10 guys. Let alone have your team BE the first 10 guys driving the train for 50+ miles at a time.

It was always an awesome display of cycling strength, but with this perspective, it takes on new meaning. I've spent some time early on Sunday mornings hanging onto the wheel in front of me, sometimes @ the redline, and when you look up the road and see that paceline stringing out as the elastic stretches, the VO2 Max and concentration all this can require does make you shake your head. Doping, schmoping, what Lance and his teams did in those Tours is just hard to fathom. Any way you slice it a textbook on bike racing tactics and team selection/management. Regardless of any other factors that represents a remarkable level of work/determination and the most amazingly consistent laser-like focus I've ever seen in sports, all in the hardest sporting event I can ever imagine.

Just sayin'.

P.S. Bicycle racing RULES. And elite pro racing does too. Doping may hurt the sport, but it won't kill it. It's far too compelling for that to ever really happen.
Correctamundo !

It looks a lot easier to a non-racer when one watches.
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Old 03-31-08, 08:20 PM   #16
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mmm just to incite and tell you folks to wake up. Its a 20 some odd day stage race, why the hell would someone else want to take responsibility and waste their riders? Putting a whole team on the front during a one-day classic...that can be scary stuff and very impressive (Quickstep comes to mind), but in a stage race its the job of the leaders team to keep the break close, everyone else is there to conserve and wait. Its cool to watch et all but is it really a display of manly, dominant force? Maybe in a "Married with children" sort of way...

As for saying doping meant nothing...um...right...doping may only give a "3%" increase (good number) but much more importantly it gives the ability to go on the rivet day after day. I'd venture any trained pro could lead the peloton for a day and look like what Disco did (through the mountains you'd have to be a bit more picky, but then typically only a few Disco riders led Lance through the mountains), what Disco did which other teams (oddly possessing the same riders...but that can't mean anything) couldn't, was do the same thing day after day. And since you're bound to ask what I'm getting at, lets take a look at the most recent Tour (the "clean-ish" one), notice how it turned into a mad house of sorts (even not talking about the doping). Disco couldn't control the front consistently, Rabobank couldn't, Astana (mmm...best not talk about them). The day in, day out domination, is hopefully a thing of the past.

Popcorn. Find the popcorn.
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Old 03-31-08, 08:23 PM   #17
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oh and yes, actually try racing a stage race. If your team has the leader's jersey but you don't have it, you'd be surprised how fast you find yourself on the front. Or you could be one of those selfish dicks who thinks they're going to win the stage anyways, but don't take that personally. You wouldn't do that.
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Old 03-31-08, 09:35 PM   #18
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In watching Pro/1/2 races (I've only done a few now) and experiencing many a Cat3 (and lower) race (similar to 35+) I can tell you that there's a pretty big difference between the two.

In a Cat3 race, if a team stacks the front 6-8 deep, unless they're ALL on the verge of upgrading or are just crazy strong, they won't control a race, particularly a crit, for more than 5-10 laps. Eventually the strong guys that AREN'T on that team will make it to the front, give each other a big wink, and attack off the front until the team doing tempo blows to bits.

There was a team that tried to pull that at a pretty big race last summer, 'round these parts. They have 5 or 6 pretty strong dudes. They'd been monitoring the front for 5 laps, maybe more, starting at about lap 35 of a 50 lap/mile crit. Two guys get a jump out of long sweeping corner into a short straight, then onto the big back stretch. I take another guy up with me. We make it a lap before they pour it on to bring us back. Sit in for a lap, and go again. Get a BIG gap. Two of the same guys as before, and another, one of their teammates. Swing off, out of a corner, look back, and it's strung the hell out.

We make it till 5 laps to go. F***ing announcer rings off a prime lap, and we're caught. Who does that ***** when there's a break up the road with 5 to go? Hop back in line. Three laps to go. F*** you guys, I'm going for it. Launch. Take two of the guys from the second effort. Getting into the red. Again, peel off out of a corner, look behind, under the arm. Team that was chasing has exploded. Excellent.

And then, I overcook a corner, ride through a picnic, between a child and dog, over the leash (literally) and narrowly avoid a folding table. My race is done. Roll home in 30-something place.

Dudes that were with me go 1-2, beating the bunch home by 5 seconds. Intelligent racing, with the proper application of energy, beats out brawn, and poorly done "organization".
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Old 03-31-08, 09:57 PM   #19
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Intelligent racing, with the proper application of energy, beats out brawn, and poorly done "organization".
I have to say, as a newbie, that I get a lot of good tips from these race reports. I feel sorry for people stronger than me that I've been outriding this season due to the fact that I have an inkling as to what is going on, mostly thanks to getting good advice from posts like these.
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Old 03-31-08, 10:11 PM   #20
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I have to say, as a newbie, that I get a lot of good tips from these race reports. I feel sorry for people stronger than me that I've been outriding this season due to the fact that I have an inkling as to what is going on, mostly thanks to getting good advice from posts like these.

Ah.

You see, the best things I've picked up, I've picked up as a result of 1) having them done to me or 2) my own mistakes. I was the go-fast dude for a while until I decided to race with my head AND legs, and not just my legs.

I think mistakes, as long as you come out on the other side with most of your skin, and bones intact, are the best teaching device out there. I might not be incredibly strong on the bike, but if someone f***s up, I'm going to make them pay.
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Old 03-31-08, 10:13 PM   #21
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In watching Pro/1/2 races (I've only done a few now) and experiencing many a Cat3 (and lower) race (similar to 35+) I can tell you that there's a pretty big difference between the two.
You've never ridden the open 35+ (or 45+) in California, have you? Might want to check the resumes on some of those teams.
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Old 03-31-08, 10:15 PM   #22
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I think mistakes, as long as you come out on the other side with most of your skin, and bones intact, are the best teaching device out there. I might not be incredibly strong on the bike, but if someone f***s up, I'm going to make them pay.
100% agreed. The benefit of talking to people with loads of experience more than yourself is getting the benefit of their mistakes, experience, and observations. I don't think most "strong" newbie riders I know give enough credit to this.
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Old 03-31-08, 10:21 PM   #23
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Alone only with the sound of your own breathing and inner dialog, in a quest for the one true thing.

Alone.

Alone.

Alone.
Any return of dick and guido this year?
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Old 03-31-08, 10:39 PM   #24
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You've never ridden the open 35+ (or 45+) in California, have you? Might want to check the resumes on some of those teams.
One of the local masters teams has the 2006 points race national champ, state champ in the state RR and crit, a former pro or two, a multiple time master's nats TT podium finisher, whom, I believe, put a pretty nice chunk of time into many SoCal guys in the TT this year.

Riding a cheap aluminum Leader, on Tufo's, and wearing a pretty "slow" helmet. Might give Thurlow a run for his money this year with some new sponsors under his belt...


http://www.truesport.com/bike/2007/a.../druber17.html
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Old 03-31-08, 10:54 PM   #25
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The 35+ Master's races in NY City this Spring have been very interesting: EVERY SINGLE RACE has been won by a breakaway group of 2-7 men. That's not at all typical of Cat 4 or 5 races. Vets races are very tactical, there are some very strong Cat 2's who are the players in that peloton, and everybody has a fair amount of racing experience. The team tactics play out every race. You don't see that type of racing at the noobie levels.
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