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Old 01-31-09, 04:25 PM   #1
merlinextraligh
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Better Positioning, or Too F'n Slow?

3races so far, this season. Each race I've been third wheel coming out of the last turn, and have failed to cash in each time.

Today, Spring Fling Circuit race (cat4). I'm sitting in third going into the last turn, on a wheel of guy that looks strong.

It was 450 meters to the line from the turn, into a stiff headwind. By the time we're 75 meters past the turn, I know I'm in trouble, first guy pulls off, second guy is dying. With 375 meters into a headwind, I can't go and last. But with the slowing pace, all hell breaks lose coming around me on both sides, I don't get on a wheel, and just drag race to the line for 13th.

So, should I have been farther back? Picked a better wheel to camp out on? HTFU?
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Old 01-31-09, 04:39 PM   #2
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Exiting the final turn 3rd wheel is good work as it is. Maintaining position is one of my "need to do better" items for this season. I'd say to jump hard and hold down the remaining distance for a WRI.
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Old 01-31-09, 04:41 PM   #3
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I didn't race that course last year, but I saw it and I remember the finishing straight being long, long, and long. Everybody was going too early.

My advice isn't worth much, but I prefer to be just a bit further back that far out. Maybe top 5 in the last corner, and then moving up as people die on the front through the final stretch, popping out in the last however many meters, depending on your sprint. With that long of a run-in and a stiff headwind, it'd be nerve-wracking, but the smart thing to do is probably sit in for a bit and then go from a bit further back around everyone else who went too early. It'll be easier to pick wheels as the season goes on too, I'm sure.

I'd also blame the first two races on poor luck rather than poor positioning or skill.
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Old 01-31-09, 05:16 PM   #4
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3rd into that last corner is like saying, "hey guys. I'll lead you out". 450 meters is a loooooong way.
You can be 10 spots back and make a better run at it. Especially that it is wide open, a headwind and an easy corner.
Good try anyhoo.
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Old 01-31-09, 06:08 PM   #5
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I have advice for you.

Go watch CDR's race video's. See where he is in the finish and how late he launches his lethal blow.

3rd wheel in the final turn means nothing if there's a good chunk of road left.
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Old 01-31-09, 06:27 PM   #6
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So, should I have been farther back? Picked a better wheel to camp out on? HTFU?
I'm guessing this. 450 meters, stiff headwind, 3rd wheel? OUCH. I have a respectable sprint for a wee little man in the 4's, but if I hit the wind too soon, it's all over. I need an uphill finish to have a chance at the win anyway, finding myself without shelter will only make things worse. Not that I would have done anything differently, if I learned one thing last season it's that I have really poor sprint tactics.
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Old 01-31-09, 06:39 PM   #7
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I should point out that I don't win any races where I wear the cam.

However, unless you're a pro or there is a two man leadout train in front of you going 40-42 mph, at 450 meters to go 3rd position is way too exposed. With a headwind, doubly so.

Just looking at the bare statistics (excellent position in last turn, not excellent finishes), it seems to me that you're trying too hard to get good position. If you burn half/all your sprint getting to third spot, you're going to explode just when everyone else is getting going. I'll sacrifice position for reserves with as little as half a lap to go (600-800 meters to go) in order to save something for the upcoming sprint. I want to start my sprint in a relatively fresh state, not from an aerobic redline.

When there is a stiff headwind I try and jump from 3-10 back at 50-150 meters to go (depends on how fast the sprint is and if there's a hill). Faster = further back in field, longer jump. Hill = further up in field, shorter jump. I think my sprinting time is about the same, but going 30 up a hill is way different from 40 on a flat, or whatever it may be.

450 meters to go is half a lap in many crits, and I'd think that at that time you'd want to be 10th-15th spot if it wasn't single file, driven by super fanatical leadout trains, and going ballistic (otherwise you'd want to be just about 10th, maybe inside that by a spot or two). 20th would be good, if you can move up before 200 to go without killing yourself.

One of my better helmet cam races is the 2007 Nutmeg state games. I didn't realize how far back I was until I edited the video and counted heads. I think at the bell (1 mile lap, 1.6 km) I was about 30th. Halfway around the course I was still about 25th, so that's about 800 meters to go. I moved up pretty aggressively at about 500 meters to go, settling into top 10 just before the sprint. A crash put me into soft sand, but I was feeling good and I was anxious to do a big strong jump. Oh well.

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Old 01-31-09, 07:58 PM   #8
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Merlin... I was there too. I was about 8 back on the outside but the crash in the final corner happened right next to me and I ended up going mountain biking in behind the trucks on the left side. I had the benefit of knowing who the guys where on the G2 health team, and the guy who got second is a strong sprinter from down here in the Miami/Ft. Laud. area (and he was about 11th out of the turn. Anyway, I would say pon that course and in those conditions you were too far up, but hey, better then me in the end!

In case you saw my other off-road escapade today (in the second corner with all the dirt/sand. Had my wheels almost slide out from under me and had to ride in the rough stuff and chase the group to get back on. I ended up where I wanted to be for the sprint and I hate driving that far for such a crappy result, but I'd rather end the race upright. Oh well, I'm skipping the RR tomorrow and racing in So. Fla. so I don't have to miss the Superbowl. Good luck if you are doing it, and if it gets to a bunch sprint, watch the G2 guy on the BMC Pro Machine. He's a nice guy and a nice wheel to be on. Hopefully, if you are on his wheel, you can get around him!
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Old 01-31-09, 09:37 PM   #9
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Yeah, I thinks its pretty clear I was too far up, particularly given the head wind.

I don't think I really intellectualized how far it was out of the last turn to the finish.
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Old 01-31-09, 10:20 PM   #10
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3rd wheel in the final turn means nothing if there's a good chunk of road left.
Unless your last name happens to be Cancellara.
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Old 01-31-09, 11:31 PM   #11
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3rd wheel in the final turn means nothing if there's a good chunk of road left.
Yeah, I live for that good chunk of road. My ideal tactic lately has been to go so early that people are like If they hesitate at all, I'm gone.

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Just looking at the bare statistics (excellent position in last turn, not excellent finishes), it seems to me that you're trying too hard to get good position. If you burn half/all your sprint getting to third spot, you're going to explode just when everyone else is getting going.
Exactly. I launched from 10th place today at 850m. That's as far up as I could get without hurting myself.


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Yeah, I thinks its pretty clear I was too far up, particularly given the head wind.

I don't think I really intellectualized how far it was out of the last turn to the finish.
So are you really looking for a bunch sprint? If you're going to win a race, will it happen in the last 50m? I had similar results before I learned of my 1' power strength. I've never won from a bunch sprint, in spite of being able to out-drag-race most sprinters on a training ride.
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Old 02-01-09, 12:15 AM   #12
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So are you really looking for a bunch sprint? If you're going to win a race, will it happen in the last 50m? I had similar results before I learned of my 1' power strength. I've never won from a bunch sprint, in spite of being able to out-drag-race most sprinters on a training ride.
It really seems to pay off to pay attention to what's going on in a race. Group rides don't appear to be nearly as informative. I could beat most of the people I rode with before I started racing to the top of the hills. Based on that and my size, I thought I was a climber. My race results are starting to suggest otherwise - I don't have the threshold capability to excel on long climbs, but I have a good jump and can absolutely fly on short, punchy climbs. Yeah, I can work on my threshold and probably become quite a good climber thanks simply to my low weight, but will I win any hillclimb races? Unlikely.

Still, it's possible that it's a bit early to conclude that sprinting won't win any races - positioning is kind of a big deal. Hell, one of my target races this year is a big hilly one - I'm going to give it one more shot and see if my problem was one of fitness or if I'm just not a pure climber. Experimentation is good, and when you don't have a power meter, it's about all you can do.
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Old 02-02-09, 09:46 AM   #13
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in the situation you describe, you were too far forward.

reasons:

-450M is about 300M too long to sprint for most of us, it's about 350M too long for me
-headwind makes a long sprint longer

if the last turn is closer, like 200M from the line, different story
if you're waterrockets and have a badass 1' sustainable power, different story
strong tailwind, maybe different story
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Old 02-02-09, 10:01 AM   #14
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Sunday's race, I talked to the guy who's wheel I was following. He was expecting the ORC guy, who was first around the turn to ramp up the pace to start the leadout for the ORC guys that were in the race.

When that guy didn't lay it down for a couple of hundred meters out of the turn, we were both toast.

My plan was that the ORC guy would keep the pace high to 200 meters or so, the guy in fornt of me would jump, I'd sit on his wheel and come around at the end.

But when the first guy couldn't or wouldn't ramp the pace I was SOL.

Thus, I think my problem was twofold, 1) being too far forward, and 2) choosing the wrong leadout.
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Old 02-02-09, 06:36 PM   #15
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what do you know, the guy with the disc wheel is the one who causes the crash...
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Old 02-02-09, 07:12 PM   #16
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450m out is way too early to sprint. Its a gamble being anywhere in a sprint. Sometimes it works out when you are up front, other times it better to be a little farther back.
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Old 02-02-09, 07:56 PM   #17
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what do you know, the guy with the disc wheel is the one who causes the crash...
he just messes up the soundtrack, looks like there were two guys to his right heading left at a fairly rapid clip.
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Old 02-02-09, 08:56 PM   #18
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I did that last year on that course. That's a long way to the line. Hope you have better luck next time..and I wish I were there racing instead of being on travel.

I see that my friend Al was 2nd in the 5s..I'll have to call him tomorrow.
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Old 02-03-09, 06:54 AM   #19
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I did that last year on that course. That's a long way to the line. Hope you have better luck next time..and I wish I were there racing instead of being on travel.

I see that my friend Al was 2nd in the 5s..I'll have to call him tomorrow.
He had a good race. I believe that was a 2 man break.
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Old 02-03-09, 02:01 PM   #20
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450m out is way too early to sprint. Its a gamble being anywhere in a sprint. Sometimes it works out when you are up front, other times it better to be a little farther back.
That was a weird race. My pre-race goal was to be 5th coming out of that last turn due to the distance and the headwind. If rider #1 craps out 100 meters in, and rider #2 craps out 200 meters in, and rider #3 craps out 300 meters in, and rider #4 craps out 400 meters in, I'm in good position to jump the last 50 meters plus or minus.

As it turned out I was in 4th place coming out of the turn. So I was pretty close to where I wanted to be.

About 50 meters out of the turn rider #1 stands up and jumps. Riders #2 and #3 sit up in confusion. I hesitate, then realize the #1 guy is getting away, so I jump too.

It seemed like a friggin' e-t-e-r-n-i-t-y before I could even see the finish line, much less cross it. But as it turned out, rider #1 took first, and I took second. And everyone else who hesitated a little too long ended up finishing behind us.

Now, to all you guys who posted that 450 meters out, into a headwind, is too far out to start your sprint, I AGREE with you. Problem is, rider #1 apparently didn't think so. The element of surprise is very important in bike racing.

Sometimes things don't turn out as planned, but in bike races you often have to improvise and do what you have to do, whether the timing is a little less than perfect or not.

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Old 02-03-09, 03:14 PM   #21
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what do you know, the guy with the disc wheel is the one who causes the crash...
There was a leadout guy on the right curb. His sprinter (on his wheel) got boxed in, went left without paying much attention to what/who was there. He knocked one guy to the side, that second guy went left, and that guy hit the disc wheel guy. My cam lens (120 degree) doesn't capture the initial contact, only the result of it.

The first guy hit went down hard, then everyone else. Disc wheel went down too, unusual since he's something like a 10 time National 'cross champion (28 total National championships I think).

There was talk of DQ'ing the sprinter guy who moved left and started the whole thing, but after some review, no one could conclusively say he took anyone out. So he wasn't DQed.

All the guys that went down are ex-Cat 2s, and the guy who started it is also an ex-Cat 2.

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Old 02-03-09, 03:18 PM   #22
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I forgot, I wrote it down somewhere, but I counted pedal revs of Tour stage winners (in the wind in sprints). All but the final day typically go about 8-13 revs in the wind. Final day is a slight downhill and typically go 20-22 revs. Anything over 15 revs would be 'long'.

A long time ago I was told I could go 40 revs anaerobic, but I think it's closer to 20 before I start to collapse.

I usually go backwards on new courses and count how far 10, 15, 20 revs is. If a tailwind, maybe as far as 40 revs. Then I try and jump at the one I think works best for me.

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Old 02-03-09, 03:25 PM   #23
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I forgot, I wrote it down somewhere, but I counted pedal revs of Tour stage winners (in the wind in sprints). All but the final day typically go about 8-13 revs in the wind. Final day is a slight downhill and typically go 20-22 revs. Anything over 15 revs would be 'long'.

A long time ago I was told I could go 40 revs anaerobic, but I think it's closer to 20 before I start to collapse.

I usually go backwards on new courses and count how far 10, 15, 20 revs is. If a tailwind, maybe as far as 40 revs. Then I try and jump at the one I think works best for me.

cdr
full revolutions or do you count both feet? I count both feet, seems to work better in my mind, so I in actuality count half-revs. if I get to 30, I'm usually gettin' passed.
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Old 02-03-09, 03:31 PM   #24
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I usually go backwards on new courses and count how far 10, 15, 20 revs is. If a tailwind, maybe as far as 40 revs. Then I try and jump at the one I think works best for me.
Yeah, that's similar to my method of rolling back and looking at landmarks in the 750-1000m range. It pays to do some homework.
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Old 02-03-09, 07:05 PM   #25
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full revolutions or do you count both feet? I count both feet, seems to work better in my mind, so I in actuality count half-revs. if I get to 30, I'm usually gettin' passed.
full revs. Yeah, 40 is a really long way to go, but sometimes that's what it takes. Not for me though, I can't go that far.

I'm more a 10-15 rev sprinter unless I'm feeling super. I'll gear up to make the revs go a bit further. When I'm super I can go from pretty far out (3 jumps, maybe 10-15 revs each jump), but I haven't felt like that in, oh, say 10 or 15 years. heh.

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