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Old 01-05-11, 07:54 PM   #1
johnybutts
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Classifying Races - Question

A very experienced racer gave me some information about a race:

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This course appears to be challenging but it's not. This is one of the easiest courses to sit in and stay with the group without exerting too much energy.
I don't understand how this classification can be made about a race, other than maybe lack of corners. What do you look for to tell you, that a race is easy to sit in on? How else do you classify races, like, such and such race is made for sprinters or something?

I'm looking at how to form a more complete picture of a race - other than just doing the race a bunch of times and creating a probability matrix for each scenario.
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Old 01-05-11, 08:55 PM   #2
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In a RR, course profile would be a huge factor. If it is flat with straight open roads, it will most likely be a bunch sprint. A mountain top finish and there might be some breaks that try to get to the base first, but it is really not going to go down until the climb. With up and down courses or exposed areas with potential cross-winds, positioning is probably more important as breaks might have a better shot of staying away. All that being said, the make-up of the field will have just as much of an impact. If there are a few motivated individuals or a strong team, any race can be made really hard.
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Old 01-05-11, 09:21 PM   #3
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What he said.
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cat 1.

blog
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Old 01-05-11, 09:48 PM   #4
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In races there is a difference in power or a difference in speed. It's how I define what makes it hard or not.

So, for example, take a race where the course is really wide and flat. Between the front and back there is very little difference in speed. There is a huge difference in power required to maintain position. Easy race because easy to recover.

Hairpin turns. Difference in speed is huge front to back. Front guys slow first, go through turn, then blast away at high speed. While they're going 35 mph, the back of the field is still slowing to 15 mph. Power difference is low between front guys and back guys. To accelerate from 15 to 35 mph is hard even if you're sitting in. Hard race because it's hard to recover, you can't sit in and save.

Hills. Difference in speed is low. Difference in power is low (meaning drafting doesn't help). Hard race.

Bumpy road (dirt, cobbles, etc). Speed difference low (at least on straights). Power difference low. Hard race.

Whenever there is a lower difference in power, it'll gonna be one frickin hard race. Whenever there is a high difference in power it'll be easy. I go for the high difference in power ones.

cdr
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Old 01-05-11, 09:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
In races there is a difference in power or a difference in speed. It's how I define what makes it hard or not.

So, for example, take a race where the course is really wide and flat. Between the front and back there is very little difference in speed. There is a huge difference in power required to maintain position. Easy race because easy to recover.

Hairpin turns. Difference in speed is huge front to back. Front guys slow first, go through turn, then blast away at high speed. While they're going 35 mph, the back of the field is still slowing to 15 mph. Power difference is low between front guys and back guys. To accelerate from 15 to 35 mph is hard even if you're sitting in. Hard race because it's hard to recover, you can't sit in and save.

Hills. Difference in speed is low. Difference in power is low (meaning drafting doesn't help). Hard race.

Bumpy road (dirt, cobbles, etc). Speed difference low (at least on straights). Power difference low. Hard race.

Whenever there is a lower difference in power, it'll gonna be one frickin hard race. Whenever there is a high difference in power it'll be easy. I go for the high difference in power ones.

cdr
Thanks, I really like this way of thinking.
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Old 01-05-11, 10:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by king-tony View Post
If it is flat with straight open roads, it will most likely be a bunch sprint.
Ha! Not in Texas in the Spring time... ever hear of crosswinds?
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Old 01-05-11, 10:02 PM   #7
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A very experienced racer gave me some information about a race:
Pace Bend?
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Old 01-05-11, 10:05 PM   #8
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Pace Bend?
you're pretty good - yes.
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Old 01-05-11, 10:08 PM   #9
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Also conditions trump profile, especially down here. We have a fair number of pretty flat low corner courses, but if the wind comes up, they can be brutal. Walburg looks like wheelsucker heaven, but add a 20 MPH wind and it's a tactical Belg gutterfest.

Other races look hard from an up/down profile like TNB's circuit race, but every up is followed by a long down that brings the group back together.

You won't see it as much in the 3's, but if teams are willing to sacrifice guys then you're in for a hard race regardless. Other wise look for longer climbs, steep climbs, hairpins, and wind.
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Old 01-05-11, 10:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Creakyknees View Post
Pace Bend?
Good example about how the teams make a difference. Last year I won it solo for the last few laps after rolling with another guy for half the race, a small break right on my heels. Difference was we were firing off people from the gun; I took advantage of a lull when people were recovering from the last chase down.

The lower cats mostly ended in field sprints.
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Old 01-05-11, 10:13 PM   #11
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you're pretty good - yes.
Well, before I ever raced it I looked at the profile and thought uh-oh... but once I saw the course I discovered that those "hills" are not big at all, and the course is sheltered from the wind, and with the full road it's easy to move up the side of the group.

Lots of pack sprints there, be careful in the last K as it does get sketchy.
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Old 01-05-11, 10:14 PM   #12
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Good example about how the teams make a difference. Last year I won it solo for the last few laps after rolling with another guy for half the race, a small break right on my heels. Difference was we were firing off people from the gun; I took advantage of a lull when people were recovering from the last chase down.

The lower cats mostly ended in field sprints.
Yep. An old saying we don't hear much anymore: the racers make the race, not the course.
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Old 01-05-11, 10:18 PM   #13
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Yep. An old saying we don't hear much anymore: the racers make the race, not the course.
Very true. Was talking to a friend last year about a road race early in the spring, course was so-so and conditions sucked - what made the race so tough was that the attacks started 1/2 an hour before the starter said go and were relentless. Always remember that the counter attack will come when a break is caught.
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Old 01-05-11, 10:38 PM   #14
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what made the race so tough was that the attacks started 1/2 an hour before the starter said go and were relentless.
That's late. I usually start attacking during online reg.
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Old 01-05-11, 10:41 PM   #15
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That's late. I usually start attacking during online reg.
Nice - I am a parking lot talker myself.

Truth be told I actually sat up in a crit one time and asked if everyone wanted to just take it easy and wait for the sprint - there were no takers so I attacked.

Last year I had a guy turn to me and say you're all racing for second place because he was feeling so good so I attacked - didn't see him again.
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Old 01-05-11, 10:53 PM   #16
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So breaking it down (this is obviously very basic):
It seems that 2 things will create a power/speed discrepency
1. Terrain
2. Conditions
When there's a large speed discrepancy or a small power discrepancy in the field, a race can easily be made hard by manipulating these.
Small hills won't inherently make a race hard - not much power/speed discrepancy since everyone recovers on the downhill, but can wear racers down at the end of long racing - cant hide from gravity.
Long hills will create small power discrepancy - hard
Head wind creates large power discrepancy - easy
Tail wind creates low speed discrepancy - easy
Cross wind creates low power discrepancy - hard.
Lots of turns create large speed discrepancy - hard


Most importantly is how the game is played to manipulate all of these and more.
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Old 01-05-11, 11:04 PM   #17
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Remember that the power/speed difference includes course conditions, strong riders, teamwork, etc.

Strong riders make a race hard when there is less power differences amongst the different parts of the group (crosswind with no shelter, hill, rough roads). Going harder will force everyone to go harder.

When you're sitting on you're sitting on (wide roads, straight downhills, headwind). I can sit on a Cat 1's wheel all day if he's pulling like mad into a very stiff headwind. (As long as he doesn't jump and get a gap first).

Turn the wind 90 degrees so it's hitting us both on the side... I'll be gone in about 20-25 seconds, maybe 60 on a good day, however long it takes for him to maintain his 5 minute power of 500-600w versus me with my 1 minute power of 500w or so.

Teams help increase or reduce power differences (chasing/blocking). By having my team chase at Bethel I could sit in and hoard reserves. Very, very strong riders couldn't get away. Power differences from front to back of field is very, very high at Bethel. You coast at 35 mph if you're in the field. You kill yourself to go that speed at the front. Except the hill.

The strongest riders can force gaps, and that's where the danger comes. Now the power difference is minimal to negative - to stay with the break you have to go harder/faster than the break. If it's me, I'm done. For other strong racers, it's possible to come back.

So, once again, if you're weak you need to focus on high power differences from the front to the back of the group. This way a 200w rider can stay with 500w riders. In my case my teammate did 380w (rounded up a watt) in a race where I averaged about 200w (rounded down two I think). I got second in the race. He helped chase everything down. I sat in a lot.

If you're strong then you need to focus on low power differences from front of the group to the back. Hills, rough roads, crosswinds, hairpins. Now everyone has to ride at your power (or a substantial portion of it). If you're going 380w for the race, others will need to average something similar (320-400w). That blows away a 200w rider. I wouldn't be able to stay with my 380w teammate in situations where the draft doesn't help substantially.

/\ pretty much what you said

Last edited by carpediemracing; 01-05-11 at 11:07 PM. Reason: took a long time writing my post
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Old 01-06-11, 12:08 AM   #18
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Hard/easy can vary from day to day and race to race on the same course. If you go in with that knowledge and have planned for several scenarios, you'll do much better than if you just react.
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