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Old 07-10-13, 10:02 AM   #1
jerod
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Hilly Crit Race Strategy?

I'm doing my 3rd crit so I'm very new to this, got yanked in the first two so bear with me...

it's at the Formula 1 Circuit of the Americas track outside Austin. This track is 3.4 miles and contains a couple considerable hills, the largest is at the start. Other than adding in a lot of hill repeats to my training, what's a good strategy during the race? Same as a flat course or would you racing vets recommend anything different? Im thinking it's more probable that this course is going to break the field up pretty quickly so staying towards the front at the start would be even more crucial? I'll be riding in the cat 4/5 group.

Any tips appreciated and sorry if this subject has been covered already, didn't see any threads. Course is at the top of link below:

http://www.tourdeaustin.com/2013Race...4/Default.aspx

Thanks!
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Old 07-10-13, 10:05 AM   #2
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Strategy only comes after not being dropped.. so focus on not being dropped.

But yeah I think staying up front is definitely a good idea. Start up front so you don't have to do a lot of work to get there.
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Old 07-10-13, 10:14 AM   #3
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Actually the race on the F 1 course is a circuit race,not a crit. ( a distinction that matters with regard to free laps).

As for strategy, if you're gravity challenged, get to the front of the group at the start of each climb, then ride your own pace, to the extent possible, filtering back through the group, with the goal being to stay in contact with the back end of the main group by the top, or at least close enough to roll them up on the descent.

This tactic works pretty well on relatively short climbs, and can allow you to hang with people that are better climbers, and avoid burning matches.

In lower category races, I found a number of times, I ended up being the first over smaller climbs when I went to the front to start this tactic because no one was willing to come around and drive the pace to shed the fat guys like me.
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Old 07-10-13, 10:29 AM   #4
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Like Merlin said, circuit race, not crit.

Best strategy for hilly races is to be lighter and stronger than everyone else. Sag climbing like merlin recommends will also be helpful.
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Old 07-10-13, 10:31 AM   #5
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Strategy only comes after not being dropped.. so focus on not being dropped.

But yeah I think staying up front is definitely a good idea. Start up front so you don't have to do a lot of work to get there.
Agreed, my goal is really just to not get dropped at the minimum.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 07-10-13, 10:34 AM   #6
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Circuit race, eh? See I told you I was green. I'm not the most prolific climber so thanks for the tip, I appreciate it.
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Old 07-10-13, 10:44 AM   #7
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I did a similar race: Sea Otter circuit at Laguna Seca. There's a pretty gnarly hill about a half-mile from the start.

I do ok on hills but my strategy was essentially the same as what Merlin said. I'd stay toward the front of the group (not in the wind) until the start of the hill. Once the hill started, I'd make sure I stayed top ten. That way, if I started to flag, I could drop back 10-15 wheels and still be in the main group at the top. Make up places on the downhill/flat spots. Rinse, repeat.

If you get shelled on the hill and you're already near the back, it will be hard to make up spots/close a gap once the main group crests the hill in front of you (unless you're some kind of downhill/TT wizard).

Good luck!
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Old 07-10-13, 10:48 AM   #8
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There's not a ton of difference, you can read the rulebook for the details. A couple major differences: crits you get a free lap(s) for mechanical or flat tire issues before a certain point in the race, circuit race you're probably just screwed unless the pack is going slow and you get some help from a friendly wheel truck to pace you in. Circuit races are done by number of laps, crits are generally done by time, or time + some number of laps. You also get more upgrade points for circuit races than you do for crits. The dividing line is 5 km, which is 3.1 miles. Shorter is a crit, longer is a circuit (road) race. There really isn't a distinction in the rule book between circuit races and road races. Road races can either by out and back, one way, or around a circuit longer than 5km.

Crits also have to be closed course, road races can be rolling enclosures and have yellow line rules. Crits you can only have one field at a time racing.

Having said all that, it looks like they're mixing the two a bit looking at the flyer. They show it as 40 minutes, but they have multiple fields racing at the same time with different start times. So I have no idea if they'll give a free lap or not, or whether they'll report it as a crit or road race.
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Old 07-10-13, 10:59 AM   #9
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Yep, sag climbing is going to be your best bet. If your goal is not to get dropped, then fight as hard as you can to stay up in the top 15, but probably not the top 5. In races like this, when I'm on the offensive, I'm maintaining on the climbs, then sprinting hard over the top to stretch the accordion as much as possible. Everyone on the climb behind me now has to try to deal with my flatland acceleration while they're on a steep grade. Death by a thousand accelerations. Be on the lookout for this and remember the front of the accordion is less acceleration.

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Old 07-10-13, 11:11 AM   #10
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Wow, thanks for all the info and tips! Much appreciated! They're billing it as Criterium Americas so I'm not sure how the rules will break down, we'll see I guess.
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Old 07-10-13, 11:29 AM   #11
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Yep, sag climbing is going to be your best bet. If your goal is not to get dropped, then fight as hard as you can to stay up in the top 15, but probably not the top 5. In races like this, when I'm on the offensive, I'm maintaining on the climbs, then sprinting hard over the top to stretch the accordion as much as possible. Everyone on the climb behind me now has to try to deal with my flatland acceleration while they're on a steep grade. Death by a thousand accelerations. Be on the lookout for this and remember the front of the accordion is less acceleration.

Much agreed. If you have been getting dropped just make sure you burn every single match you can to stay with the pack before getting dropped. hold that wheel with your life
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Old 07-10-13, 11:36 AM   #12
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I did a similar race: Sea Otter circuit at Laguna Seca. There's a pretty gnarly hill about a half-mile from the start.

I do ok on hills but my strategy was essentially the same as what Merlin said. I'd stay toward the front of the group (not in the wind) until the start of the hill. Once the hill started, I'd make sure I stayed top ten. That way, if I started to flag, I could drop back 10-15 wheels and still be in the main group at the top. Make up places on the downhill/flat spots. Rinse, repeat.
The COTA race will be similar to racing Sea Otter. The climb on the pit straight will be similar to the climb between turn 6 and the corkscrew. It'll be a blood-bath. Your best option will be having really good legs.
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Old 07-10-13, 01:39 PM   #13
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Re: crit vs circuit, the biggest thing is that if you flat or crash on a circuit you don't get a free lap. Basically it's more like a road race in that sense - if you come off the back You're On Your Own (aka "YOYO").

For any loop that has a hill you're going to be dealing with zero elevation change every lap, meaning you end up exactly where you started, and within a few minutes of racing. This means that the hills aren't as crazy as in a RR (no 35 minute climbs) and there's a pretty long downward slope somewhere (because most courses with a hill will put the steep grade as an uphill, not as a downhill, and the shallow grade will therefore be a downhill).

This means it's a classic sprint-recover type of effort. You go hard up the hill and over the top, you soft pedal and try to recover, then you do it again. If you can recover quick enough then you can do this for a while. It's a harmonic rhythm type thing. If recovering takes you 30 seconds and the next effort hits you at 25 seconds then you'll get shelled. If the effort hits you at 35 seconds then you'll be uncomfortable but able to hang on. 60 seconds and you'll be golden.

If you find yourself on the good side of the effort-recovery cycle then you should try to improve your position by extending your effort a bit longer. Usually it's more beneficial to keep going over the top of a hill (climb "through the top" of a climb) rather than starting your effort just before the hill. The delta in effort versus the benefit is usually better if you push after the climb, not before it.

To make this work you have to be able to draft well. You can't drift back into the very back if the racers back there are letting gaps go because you may be at your limit and then the guy in front of you gets gapped.
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Old 07-10-13, 01:46 PM   #14
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I thought for a brief moment about doing this exact race (4/5). I have a dozen or so races (crits, RRs, TTs) under my belt, so I wasn't thrown off by the large hill near the start. What really made me scratch my head about doing this race was the fact that it's at 1 pm, in central Texas, in August/September, on raceway asphalt (tarmac?). Me thinks the heat will be tough enough of a challenge. At least the Driveway course has shaded areas. And FFS, I have no idea why the first race of the day at the COTA is noon. Blah.
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Old 07-11-13, 08:12 AM   #15
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Re: crit vs circuit, the biggest thing is that if you flat or crash on a circuit you don't get a free lap. Basically it's more like a road race in that sense - if you come off the back You're On Your Own (aka "YOYO").

For any loop that has a hill you're going to be dealing with zero elevation change every lap, meaning you end up exactly where you started, and within a few minutes of racing. This means that the hills aren't as crazy as in a RR (no 35 minute climbs) and there's a pretty long downward slope somewhere (because most courses with a hill will put the steep grade as an uphill, not as a downhill, and the shallow grade will therefore be a downhill).

This means it's a classic sprint-recover type of effort. You go hard up the hill and over the top, you soft pedal and try to recover, then you do it again. If you can recover quick enough then you can do this for a while. It's a harmonic rhythm type thing. If recovering takes you 30 seconds and the next effort hits you at 25 seconds then you'll get shelled. If the effort hits you at 35 seconds then you'll be uncomfortable but able to hang on. 60 seconds and you'll be golden.

If you find yourself on the good side of the effort-recovery cycle then you should try to improve your position by extending your effort a bit longer. Usually it's more beneficial to keep going over the top of a hill (climb "through the top" of a climb) rather than starting your effort just before the hill. The delta in effort versus the benefit is usually better if you push after the climb, not before it.

To make this work you have to be able to draft well. You can't drift back into the very back if the racers back there are letting gaps go because you may be at your limit and then the guy in front of you gets gapped.
that is an awesome way to think about it, thanks for the insight. I think I've got my race checklist:

zero elevation change, SAG-recover on descent, don't drift back too much on climb, stay in first 15, hold that wheel with your life.

Good advice all, I'll be using all of this.
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Old 07-11-13, 08:20 AM   #16
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Yep, August and sept are usually just brutal. Starting the races at 1 seems especially cruel.
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Old 07-11-13, 09:32 AM   #17
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One other thing: as in any race, being careful about staying sheltered (do a forum search on "wind management" for more CDR goodness) as much as possible will help save your matches for the climbs. If you're spending energy moving up or even just hanging out in the wind, you're going to have less in the tank for the climbs. You can think of yourself as having a kind of energy gauge or health bar, like in a video game. Whenever you're cruising easily in the pack, it's going up, when you're on the hill or in the wind, it's going down, more quickly the harder you work. If it runs out, you get dropped. Over the course of the race, it will go down and up again as you hit the hills each lap and them recover, but the overall trend is that it will deplete throughout the race. Your goal is to keep it from running out until the end of the race, where you'll use whatever is left, if anything for your final sprint. Or just to finish with the pack, depending on your fitness and how well you've managed your energy through the race. Good luck, and have fun out there!
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Old 07-11-13, 09:38 AM   #18
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Its going to be well over a hundred over the pavement tomorrow. Good luck man. Make sure you drink a ton of water the night before, morning of, and during or you're toast.
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Old 07-25-13, 03:07 PM   #19
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Race/track preview for the COTA race if anyone is interested, 14% grade, good grief. http://supersquadra.net/?p=4297
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Old 07-25-13, 05:12 PM   #20
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Too bad I'm not still there. That's got me written all over it.
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Old 07-26-13, 08:40 AM   #21
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A teammate who was on the recon crew posted this:

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Old 07-26-13, 09:18 AM   #22
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^so it's a 7 second hill climb? i cant tell is it big ring? will pack surge level that out and make it "race" irrelevant?
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Old 07-26-13, 09:41 AM   #23
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Thanks for posting this, I'd love to see it in realtime.
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Old 07-26-13, 09:41 AM   #24
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^so it's a 7 second hill climb? i cant tell is it big ring? will pack surge level that out and make it "race" irrelevant?
I haven't ridden it, but I've seen it. It's like a 6-story building in elevation (80 ft). A lot of it is 14% grade. I think it will be a factor. In the recon ride, a local elite looks to have tackled it at 600W, and it took him 31 seconds at 13mph (this was one of the riders behind our camera guy). That's going to leave a mark.
Full lap: http://app.strava.com/segments/2735078
The big hill: http://app.strava.com/segments/2675130

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Old 07-26-13, 09:42 AM   #25
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Any tips appreciated!
When you throw up, pull to the side of the group.
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