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Old 05-28-08, 04:29 PM   #1
youngster
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sprints : can you change your line?

I started racing last year and encountered this situation sometimes:

we're in the last km of the race, I'm in some guy's wheel in the front of the pack and waiting for the sprint to start. All of a sudden, someone starts the sprint and passes me on one side. I want to jump on his wheel but :
I don't know if an other guy is on his wheel, so if I change my line I might create a crash with the other guy who's already in his wheel.
the questions that are burning me are :
what do I do not to get stuck in a wheel and having to watch others pass me by? do I keep looking back to see if someone is making a move? at such high speed a lot can happen while I'm looking back - a crash, a sprint,...I am not a sprinter so initiating the sprint is not my best option.

in a sprint, can I change my line as I want to jump on a guy's wheel passing me w/o knowing if someone else is already in his wheel because it's that guy's responsibility not to hit me? what solutions are there for me?

thanks to all you sprinters out there!
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Old 05-28-08, 04:33 PM   #2
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Old 05-28-08, 04:34 PM   #3
youngster
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lol that's a good one!
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Old 05-28-08, 04:38 PM   #4
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CDR is changing inside a phone booth right now.
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Old 05-28-08, 04:50 PM   #5
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You can...but:

Quote:
Originally Posted by USAC
4H9 Sprints
(a) Failure to maintain line during a sprint or other
irregularities
First offense: $35 fine and relegated to
back of group
Second offense: $70 fine, relegated to back of
group, and 1 minute
penalty
92
Third offense: $140 fine and
disqualification
(b) Extremely dangerous behavior in a sprint
$140 fine and disqualification
http://www.usacycling.org/forms/RdTrkCx_rulebook.pdf

That is to say you can make gradual moves, but you can't whip around and be a hazard to yourself and others. In general, if you're in front you have the right of way, and it's the overtaking rider's responsibility to not run into you. They can't do that however if you're going from white line to yellow line...
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Old 05-28-08, 05:04 PM   #6
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I certainly don't know from the rule book, 'cause I haven't learned it all, and I don't know from personal experience, 'cause I'm never at the front at the end to sprint.

But when I watch Grand Tour stages, those clowns are all over the place.
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Old 05-28-08, 05:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snuffleupagus View Post
That is to say you can make gradual moves, but you can't whip around and be a hazard to yourself and others. In general, if you're in front you have the right of way, and it's the overtaking rider's responsibility to not run into you. They can't do that however if you're going from white line to yellow line...
Those are the penalties, but there is no definition of the violation. The relevant rules are these.

1O6. No rider may make an abrupt motion so as to
interfere with the forward progress of another rider, either
intentionally or by accident [relegation or disqualification;
possible 20 days suspension if a crash results].

3B10. Foul Riding. A rider near the edge of a road who
leaves a gap sufficient for an opponent to pass may not
suddenly close the gap upon being overtaken [relegation or
disqualification].

Notice in both cases the movements are only prohibited if they interfere with a rider attempting to pass. Now while you always need to be aware of 1O7,

1O7. Dangerous Rider. Any rider who appears to present a
danger to the other competitors may be disqualified by the
Chief Referee, either before or during a race.

The last five words are important. The CR can not use 1O7 to disqualify someone after the race. It is meant to insure the safety of the other riders.
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Old 05-28-08, 06:16 PM   #8
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If you really want to improve your bike racing then these are the kind of questions you need to ask.

From my experience, as long as you are within the pack its ok to do whatever short of punching kicking headbutting or biting. The rider behind you is responsible for not crashing. I'm pretty sure that rulebook only applies to those that are at the front and in the wind. For example, you can't force a guy into the curb if you see him passing you. I say this because I've never seen anyone get a fine or dq for irregular sprinting. I don't know if it's because noone complains to the officials about it or if riders like to settle stuff like that on their own.

As for your question, that wheel is public property and if the guy behind it leaves big enough gap then its anyones for the taking.
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Old 05-28-08, 07:30 PM   #9
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choose your wheels better
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Old 05-28-08, 07:35 PM   #10
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A quick glance and your peripheral vision ought to be enough to determine if someone is "on" that wheel...especially if they are passing you. It won't take much or be dangerous, imo.

I have never been in a bunch sprint in a 5s race, usually the field is pretty strung out...
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Old 05-28-08, 07:35 PM   #11
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I'm out of the phone booth Would you believe I was out riding? lol.

There are times when it's okay to move sideways in a sprint, some when it's not. It's incredibly frustrating to get stuck behind a bad wheel, I know, I've been there many times. But, at the same time, it's a LOT worse if you try to get out and your move takes out 5 or 10 guys.

It's NOT okay if:
- you're moving without knowing if there is someone there.
- you're moving and you know that someone is there and that person will have to do some radical maneuvering to avoid you. "Radical" means braking or swerving. A little easing on the pedals is debatable, but the chain reaction effect means the guy behind him will end up braking.

It's okay if:
- you know there is no one close to you (to me, 4-5 feet is pretty far away).
- you move in such a way that the person behind/beside you can make a minor adjustment and keep going.

There are a couple ways to "peek" without actually turning your head, I list the a few in here:
http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...scenarios.html

I think the most useful one is the one where you overlap the wheel in front of you slightly to the side you want to move on. If it's quiet, move over more. If you get a foot or two over and there's no "Hey buddy, wtf are you doing?" then you're probably good to go.

If you watch the sprint in the following clip, you can see that I wait an abnormally long time before I go. I'm waiting for the guy to my left to fade before I can jump.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=fiMfxE14yaQ
At 5:45 the guy starts to fade to my left. It's a curving finish to the right so everyone naturally drifts right. At 5:55 you can see me glance to see if he's clear. I know the guy, he's a good guy, and he knew he wasn't going to make it so he started to ease. It took another little bit before he was clear, then I went as hard as I could. I missed the win by a bike throw so I was a bit too far back when I went.

On the other hand, a different day on the same course, I got totally boxed in. I coasted and soft pedaled to the line, totally boxed in, but still taking 18th in a curb to curb sprint. If there was a gap...

In yet another sprint on the same course, the first guy on the right curb started to fade. He was supposed to, he's a leadout man. But he didn't leave his sprinter any room to move (usually the leadout guy will leave a tiny gap on the curb and close it as his rider goes through). So the sprinter, with full knowledge there were racers to his left, moved over into them (at 9:30 into the clip). Chaos ensued:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=h-gqK3VKNqs
I *just* miss a red 55 gallon drum (garbage can). My teammate hit it with his knee so hard it bounced 8 feet in the air (!). His knee, after I did a 3 minute cool down lap, was the size of a softball. The bozo that pulled the bonehead move of the race didn't go down. F*cker.

I've actually asked people to move, in the middle of a sprint ("Dude, lemme go left, lemme go left!"). It's amazing how much talking you can do in the last 250 meters of a race. Usually, if they realize that their legs are fading fast, they'll move just enough to let me by.

Plus they know that, at some point, I might be able to repay them (I get into good position with no legs more often than I get into bad position with good legs). For example, I got into excellent position one year at a big summer crit, sitting on the favorite's wheel, who was on his leadout wheel (so I was sitting 3rd). Someone fought me for the spot, I looked, he's a good guy, I let him in, told him "Go, go!". Then another guy started up with me. I looked again, another good guy. I let him in. "Go in, go in!". I knew I couldn't sprint for the win but I also knew I could determine *who* was going to be able to sprint for it. At that moment I decided that the race would be between the favorite and the two guys I let in - no one else could get past me. I felt pretty good about my decision and figured my two friends would beat the favorite. I protected the position strongly and effectively decided the top three of the race at 500 meters to go. For the record they ended up third, second, and first, respectively. The two guys I let in are good, solid guys who race hard but race fair. They won't pull any dirty moves first but man, if you cross them, then you get a real good show of what they can really do.

At a Pro level maybe things are different, but I think they're actually controlled even more. Since everyone knows everyone, if some bozo pulls a bad move, that bozo will find it incredibly hard to get into position for a sprint for the next year or two. At the same time, racers have respect for those that play fair. McEwen, for all his antics, seems to be considered a fair sprinter. He moves, sometimes radically, but you never, ever see him take someone out, or even make someone swerve. Almost all his lateral moves in the middle of the sprint are moves to react to other's movement.

He and Bettini were fighting for a wheel in a race I watched (Giro stage?) and Bettini let him have it. I bet if it was some unknown or some guy that regularly causes crashes in sprints, Bettini would have fought tooth and nail to take the wheel. But since it was McEwen, he let him have it. I believe McEwen won that sprint, Bettini got second.

As a side note, you should be sprinting (Backstedt excepted I guess) so that you can shift and brake at a moment's notice. You shouldn't be in a position where you can't brake or swerve immediately. And since shifting can be useful for sprinting, you should be able to shift as well. I'm not saying that braking and swerving are good things to do, but if there is an incident caused by a bozo moving sideways without checking his six first, then some braking and/or swerving may allow you to finish, place, or at least stay upright.

cdr
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Old 05-28-08, 07:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bodaciousguy View Post
I've never seen anyone get a fine or dq for irregular sprinting. I don't know if it's because noone complains to the officials about it or if riders like to settle stuff like that on their own.
For some reason in CT there are a lot of DQs for irregular sprinting. I mean if the guy in front kicks his rear wheel a foot to the side less than 10 meters from the line and there are 4 officials waiting to score the finish, it's kind of hard to miss. Some guys just grew up racing dirty. Kind of sad, at a Cat 3 or M40 level, to have to ride dirty.

On the other hand, at Bethel one year a guy won, raising his hands. That was when the USCF made that illegal in bunch sprints. The officials got the 6 guys who would be affected and asked them to vote. They voted to keep the hand raiser the winner - he beat them by a lot. But he was also told the next time there'd be no vote. I thought that was fair.

Finally, in my "best" place in a p123 race, I tried to go around a guy at about 150 meters to go. We were sprinting for second behind a solo break. This guy took me across the whole width of Limerock Park (the car track), like 50 feet. Shutting the door the long way I guess. The officials were in the timing bridge thing overlooking the track and swapped our places before anyone could protest (everyone else was far enough behind that the "shutting the door" move didn't affect them). I honestly think that the guy would have won even if he didn't do that but I guess we won't know now. We weren't enemies, he knew he did the wrong thing, but it was his first reaction to a possible loss. We talked about it afterwards and he was good about it. We sometimes helped each other out later - he's the one I followed at New Britain when he attacked at 42 mph and almost careened off the course at the first bend.

cdr
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Old 05-28-08, 08:06 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
For some reason in CT there are a lot of DQs for irregular sprinting. I mean if the guy in front kicks his rear wheel a foot to the side less than 10 meters from the line and there are 4 officials waiting to score the finish, it's kind of hard to miss. Some guys just grew up racing dirty. Kind of sad, at a Cat 3 or M40 level, to have to ride dirty.

On the other hand, at Bethel one year a guy won, raising his hands. That was when the USCF made that illegal in bunch sprints. The officials got the 6 guys who would be affected and asked them to vote. They voted to keep the hand raiser the winner - he beat them by a lot. But he was also told the next time there'd be no vote. I thought that was fair.

Finally, in my "best" place in a p123 race, I tried to go around a guy at about 150 meters to go. We were sprinting for second behind a solo break. This guy took me across the whole width of Limerock Park (the car track), like 50 feet. Shutting the door the long way I guess. The officials were in the timing bridge thing overlooking the track and swapped our places before anyone could protest (everyone else was far enough behind that the "shutting the door" move didn't affect them). I honestly think that the guy would have won even if he didn't do that but I guess we won't know now. We weren't enemies, he knew he did the wrong thing, but it was his first reaction to a possible loss. We talked about it afterwards and he was good about it. We sometimes helped each other out later - he's the one I followed at New Britain when he attacked at 42 mph and almost careened off the course at the first bend.

cdr
I read that entry. I'm still stupefied as to how guys go that fast. Fastest ever I could muster in a flat sprint was 35. Guess it takes a long time to develop the power and proper form.
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Old 05-28-08, 08:09 PM   #14
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Thanks for the info, CDR. Invaluable as always.

Thanks also to the OP as I have been trying to figure this out as well all year long. Seems I'm always getting boxed in for the finale, even though I'm near the front the whole race. Last lap or two, the sprinters move forward to set-up the finish and I can't get out to move up with 'em. Frustrating.
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Old 05-28-08, 08:12 PM   #15
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You might also consider going early, Cancellara style. If you just explode from 3rd wheel at 500m, there's a good chance that nobody will follow you. Now you just kill yourself to the line and hope for the best. If you get a decent gap in the first 50m, it's doing to take some reasonable organization and intention to catch you, because whoever decides to go after you is committing suicide as far as the finish goes.

It would also be good to send a teammate to the front to drill it from 750m. Even if you're a couple wheels back, it will prevent swarms from coming around you, so when someone does come by, they're likely to have a bigger gap behind them.

In the situation in the OP, if you're approaching the finish at less than ballistic speeds, you really do need to get out of the draft slightly as CDR suggests. There's no way everyone is going to wait back there if you're only doing 32 mph in the last 400m. Just stay out there and get 1/2 a draft. This will give you the freedom to squeeze through if a train comes by, and you can just go next to them, trying to find a way in.
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Old 05-28-08, 08:27 PM   #16
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Also, try to look to your rear flanks by glancing under your arms. Looking over your shoulder changes your position too much and is a bit more unstable.
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Old 05-28-08, 08:40 PM   #17
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great infos so far. I realize just how important it is to choose the right wheel. Glancing under my arm, moving slowly to the side or overlap (although I don't like overlapping because you never know what the guy in front is going to do esp. in a sprint)
I'll definitely try a Cancellara move sooner than latter! it must be so much fun

keep it coming, I love the sprinting strategies!
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Old 05-28-08, 08:51 PM   #18
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My sprint stategy is to get dropped before it happens.
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Old 05-30-08, 09:47 AM   #19
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Quote:
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CDR is changing inside a phone booth right now.

Damn, you beat me to it!
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Old 05-30-08, 01:59 PM   #20
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I thought of some advice someone gave me a while back. It's sort of like Botto's "How to Race" list but a little more focused.

First get to the end of the race in the field.

If you can do that, try a flyer at the bell. Great if you win but it's very hard. You can be proud of your effort, regardless of outcome.

After you try that, try leading out the sprint. Don't worry about being 5th or whatever - just go early. Don't sit up, keep going all the way to the line. It's hard but you'll be amazed at how far ahead of the bulk of the field you end up, and you may get a top 20 or so.

Finally, after that, try and start the sprint from 5th spot or whatever.

You'll get experience going through all the different phases of the race - moving up until 1 to go, moving up until 1/2 to go, and going at 1/4 to go (leading out). Then, with the feel of what it's like in each of those situations, it's easier to work on being in the right spot at 1/4 to go.

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