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  1. #26
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    Thanks for some insight. I'm sure this stuff is Bike Racing 101 but that's exactly where I am at the moment, trying to figure it all out. We should have attacked. I did actually pull off and coast once on the straightaway, but it was me that got antsy and took up the effort again, not him! Dumb! But that was a really weird feeling, coasting right on the front in a race. I've got a lot to learn.

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    Hey, you're asking all the right questions without pretending to know the answers. That goes a long ways around here. Keep it up.

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    Oh man I definitely don't know the answers! But I'd like to learn them. And as for why I was wondering about speed, just curiosity and nothing more. I know how I felt during and after so just trying to gauge if it was maybe a fast race or not. Not a real useful question I see now! But that's ok.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AERO63 View Post
    The 6-man lead group in last night's race included myself and two of my teammates. We were on the front for more or less the entire race, the others guys weren't interested in working and I don't blame them, because in hindsight we were more than willing to do the work. We didn't win. We finished 2, 3, and 4 but had a guy who sat back there the entire time beat us. He did a good job, we didn't. (Still had a good time though for the record!)

    What is the best way to get off the front? (Or force someone else up there?) We'd slow the pace hoping someone would get antsy and go to the front, they wouldn't. We'd pick up the pace hoping to wear them down and get away, but that didn't work either. So in the end we just worked hard and got beat by someone smarter who didn't.

    What could we/I have done differently?
    As pointed out you and your teammates should have tried to force the others to the front. Attacking in turn sounds good but attacking at the wrong points of a race will just help the others as you wear yourselves down with little or no chance of actually splitting up the break. Typically you want to attack where it's less likely for the others to be able to work off of your draft. Therefore you want to go in a tailwind, a crosswind (and hug the side furthest from the wind, so if the wind is from the left you hug the right curb), through a bunch of turns, or over the hill. Everyone will think of over the hill so it might be the other spots that you need to go.

    If you three are lighter weight riders suited for the climb then slow up going into the climb and use your power to weight ratio to hurt the heavier riders as you accelerate over the top. If you're heavier TT type riders then avoid that by driving hard into the base of the hill so it becomes a 3 pedal stroke hill in a big gear, not a 15 pedal stroke twiddle fest. Use your TT strength to go with the wind or by drilling it where it's flat/downhill. Use your physical traits to your advantage.

    With so many turns you can simply gap your teammate/s off the front (so the three teammates are in a row at the front and the third teammate lets a gap open up going into a turn). If you ease as you enter the corner (don't brake, it's just an ease) most riders won't notice the gap until the exit. This forces open a gap immediately. You can then pull off or soft pedal or whatever you want, as long as you're going a bit slower than the two teammates who are now off the front. When the other riders start to chase you hop on, sit on, and refuse to do an ounce of work. When they catch back on then you can attack. Etc.

    The critical thing is to never work against your teammate. This is way too common in the lower categories (4s and 5s). I call them "Me Too" attacks, where one teammate tries to go with another but never quite gets on the wheel. If you looked at it from afar it would be one attacker, one chaser, and the field, and both the attacker and the chaser are on the same team. It's a bit senseless to try and close a gap to a teammate - unless it's a two rider pack of you and a teammate you should never try to close a gap to a teammate. You should wait and let someone else close the gap for you. If they fail then you let others try. If you let a bunch of guys try and now they're all dragging their tongues on the road then you launch a vicious attack and leave them behind.

    If you do try to close the gap to a teammate, you're undoing all their hard work when they launched the attack. In very few, usually "more advanced" situations, this may not be true (like when a team intentionally attacks into a crosswind but the team leader inadvertently gets gapped off). But in pretty much all Cat 4-5 type racing this idea holds true. It especially holds true if the gap seems close-able "in a few seconds", i.e. 10-20-30 feet. It's incredibly crucial to immediately stop your effort so that someone else can make that "few second effort". You should be going nice and easy, on the wheels, only making efforts when accelerating to follow the others. Once up to speed you should be soft pedaling.

    So.. in a break with 2 teammates and 3 non-teammates you should ease when the two teammates are ahead, even if it means you come off of the break. You're bringing everyone else off the break also, and they'll need to chase. As soon as they realize they need to chase you should sit up and wait for them to go around. Then sit on and recover, don't do an iota of work. If they aren't going to make it, or they start futzing around, then you can launch a searing attack to gap them off right away. Hopefully, with them working and you not working, you can get clear immediately. If you can't, if your attack only encourages them to chase, then you need to sit up and immediately let them by you, get on their wheel. Get them to the front, sit on their wheel, wait for the surge. If they want to go 14 mph then you go 13 mph. If you get caught by the field then so be it, you have two teammates up the road, you can play the game. They can't.

    Chances are that the guy that won was perhaps the weakest of the group. He might have been struggling with the pace. The finish, going up hill (if I understood right) would favor a particular kind of rider, one like me. It's very possible that the winner of the race was the one most vulnerable in the break. You have to force the others to work so you can see who can and who can't. I bet if you did what I described above (leave a gap, let them work, then jump them), the guy that won the race would be the first one to respond. That's why you can't work at all as soon as someone responds - the one that responds will be the one with the jump, the one that reacts quickly, the one that will beat you if you drag him up to your teammates. Therefore you immediately shut down.

    Even if you're not talking with your teammates you can start faking being redlined. Pull through slower, pull shorter, get a bit ragged in form, and start sitting on the back. You can police the rest of the break, "just in case". I've done this in races while trying to help a friend on a different team and had other non-teammate friends close a gap for me because they thought I was suffering and wanted the break back.
    Last edited by carpediemracing; 06-27-14 at 07:01 AM. Reason: typo: "close able" should have been one word
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  5. #30
    Senior Member lsberrios1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    As pointed out you and your teammates should have tried to force the others to the front. Attacking in turn sounds good but attacking at the wrong points of a race will just help the others as you wear yourselves down with little or no chance of actually splitting up the break. Typically you want to attack where it's less likely for the others to be able to work off of your draft. Therefore you want to go in a tailwind, a crosswind (and hug the side furthest from the wind, so if the wind is from the left you hug the right curb), through a bunch of turns, or over the hill. Everyone will think of over the hill so it might be the other spots that you need to go.

    If you three are lighter weight riders suited for the climb then slow up going into the climb and use your power to weight ratio to hurt the heavier riders as you accelerate over the top. If you're heavier TT type riders then avoid that by driving hard into the base of the hill so it becomes a 3 pedal stroke hill in a big gear, not a 15 pedal stroke twiddle fest. Use your TT strength to go with the wind or by drilling it where it's flat/downhill. Use your physical traits to your advantage.

    With so many turns you can simply gap your teammate/s off the front (so the three teammates are in a row at the front and the third teammate lets a gap open up going into a turn). If you ease as you enter the corner (don't brake, it's just an ease) most riders won't notice the gap until the exit. This forces open a gap immediately. You can then pull off or soft pedal or whatever you want, as long as you're going a bit slower than the two teammates who are now off the front. When the other riders start to chase you hop on, sit on, and refuse to do an ounce of work. When they catch back on then you can attack. Etc.

    The critical thing is to never work against your teammate. This is way too common in the lower categories (4s and 5s). I call them "Me Too" attacks, where one teammate tries to go with another but never quite gets on the wheel. If you looked at it from afar it would be one attacker, one chaser, and the field, and both the attacker and the chaser are on the same team. It's a bit senseless to try and close a gap to a teammate - unless it's a two rider pack of you and a teammate you should never try to close a gap to a teammate. You should wait and let someone else close the gap for you. If they fail then you let others try. If you let a bunch of guys try and now they're all dragging their tongues on the road then you launch a vicious attack and leave them behind.

    If you do try to close the gap to a teammate, you're undoing all their hard work when they launched the attack. In very few, usually "more advanced" situations, this may not be true (like when a team intentionally attacks into a crosswind but the team leader inadvertently gets gapped off). But in pretty much all Cat 4-5 type racing this idea holds true. It especially holds true if the gap seems close able "in a few seconds", i.e. 10-20-30 feet. It's incredibly crucial to immediately stop your effort so that someone else can make that "few second effort". You should be going nice and easy, on the wheels, only making efforts when accelerating to follow the others. Once up to speed you should be soft pedaling.

    So.. in a break with 2 teammates and 3 non-teammates you should ease when the two teammates are ahead, even if it means you come off of the break. You're bringing everyone else off the break also, and they'll need to chase. As soon as they realize they need to chase you should sit up and wait for them to go around. Then sit on and recover, don't do an iota of work. If they aren't going to make it, or they start futzing around, then you can launch a searing attack to gap them off right away. Hopefully, with them working and you not working, you can get clear immediately. If you can't, if your attack only encourages them to chase, then you need to sit up and immediately let them by you, get on their wheel. Get them to the front, sit on their wheel, wait for the surge. If they want to go 14 mph then you go 13 mph. If you get caught by the field then so be it, you have two teammates up the road, you can play the game. They can't.

    Chances are that the guy that won was perhaps the weakest of the group. He might have been struggling with the pace. The finish, going up hill (if I understood right) would favor a particular kind of rider, one like me. It's very possible that the winner of the race was the one most vulnerable in the break. You have to force the others to work so you can see who can and who can't. I bet if you did what I described above (leave a gap, let them work, then jump them), the guy that won the race would be the first one to respond. That's why you can't work at all as soon as someone responds - the one that responds will be the one with the jump, the one that reacts quickly, the one that will beat you if you drag him up to your teammates. Therefore you immediately shut down.

    Even if you're not talking with your teammates you can start faking being redlined. Pull through slower, pull shorter, get a bit ragged in form, and start sitting on the back. You can police the rest of the break, "just in case". I've done this in races while trying to help a friend on a different team and had other non-teammate friends close a gap for me because they thought I was suffering and wanted the break back.
    WOW, What a post! Thank you
    Cat 6 going on PRO....

  6. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    As pointed out you and your teammates should have tried to force the others to the front...
    Great, very informative post. Exactly the types of things I'm hoping to hear/learn. Great stuff! Thank you for taking the time!

  7. #32
    Senior Member hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AERO63 View Post
    Great, very informative post. Exactly the types of things I'm hoping to hear/learn. Great stuff! Thank you for taking the time!
    When CDR responds, he does so with great intentions and a wealth of knowledge. I've learned quite a bit reading his replies and his blog.
    Cat 2 upgrade status: never

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    Hey, you're asking all the right questions without pretending to know the answers. That goes a long ways around here. Keep it up.
    +1
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  9. #34
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    I'm glad I can offer some help. I'm fortunate in that I get to race with my Cat 4-5 teammates this year in the Tuesday Night races. This has let me watch first hand what the less experienced riders are doing in the races and it was a bit eye opening. I decided to try and help the others at the Tuesday Night races this year. I've made my advice public so that other racers can learn as well.

    The first post is here:
    Sprinter della Casa: Racing - Approaching A Training Race
    If you go up the list of posts in the right column (newer is up higher) you can see the four points expanded in each post.

    The race after that series of posts, along with actual links to the four posts:
    Sprinter della Casa: Racing - CCAP Tuesday Night Race, May 27, 2014

    And although I haven't finished the post yet, last Tuesday really played into the team's hands. I took more control because the wind was so strong I couldn't help the younger riders at the back. Normally I'd be back there telling the riders which side to shelter on, to remind them to move over, give them a timely push/assist, etc. Last Tuesday I was doing all I could simply to hang on wheels. Therefore I was in the front half of the group and I could watch the race unfold in front of me. I told the guys when to go, they went, and pretty much all of them escaped the field successfully, with one teammate lapping the field solo near the end another two teammates doing the same on the last lap. There's no way I could have gone with them, they're so strong compared to me, but in the prior races they couldn't even stay on wheels at the end of the race. Now they were not only able to follow moves but they absolutely dominated the race.

    My goal is to have that kind of tactical knowledge be normal for a Cat 4-5 instead of an anomaly. They're all super fit, I mean they were killing me when they were making the moves. In prior races I literally rode them off my wheels by accident because they spent so much energy doing nonsensical stuff during the race. Now they're starting to learn how to apply their fitness and it's really showing. After their breakthrough race more than a few riders said my teammates ought to upgrade to the A race, which I think might be premature. They rode better because of their tactics (even getting rid an experienced Cat 3 here and there), not because they're more fit. If they'd been racing the same way they did a month ago they'd be finishing 10th and 15th like they did back then.

    Hopefully I can put the Tues race post up today, but it depends on how Junior is doing etc.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  10. #35
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    One thing I've learned about dropping dead weight in breaks: I only do it if I'm the strong guy in the break (not likely) or if I'm protecting other teammates in the break. One time I popped a guy off the back, got back to the break, and the state TT champ dropped the hammer and I only lasted another 2 laps. I should have let him deal with it the dead weight, especially since I could out-sprint all of them anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    As for crit speeds, it depends. I've been in pro races that averaged 27mph and M55+ that averaged 29.5mph. Why does it matter? If you're calibrating your RPE do it against power and HR not average speed.
    Yeah, I've been in a couple P/1/2/3 crits that averaged that high, and I've consitently found that faster races are easier, as indicated by globecanvas near the top of this thread. If the race is really fast, then it's probably an easy course. Higher average speed also means a bigger differential between power at the front and power in the pack.

  11. #36
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    One thing to consider. Buy Reading the Race from Event Services (member here). It's a really interesting book and even as a Cat 5 it's worth reading.

    I also learned one thing in handy as I'm coming to a close in my Cat 5 races. I try to stay in the front 1/3 of races. When I'm just spending a few minutes to recover I used to find one of the largest guys in the group that is in the middle of the pack and park behind him. This backfired in my race last weekend. Average speed was 24mph and it was relatively easy just holding his wheel. The problem occurred when the pack surged, he was a little late to increase his speed as he was pushing a bigger gear.

    So a gap formed, and it was pretty slow to form, only 2 or 3 seconds at first. I was hoping that the guy in front of me would close the gap, or at least try. When I realized he was struggling I wasted valuable time thinking about what to do, and hoping someone else would close the gap. Well, everyone fell behind. Then the gap probably grew to about 10 seconds. I chased for 5 miles before rolling in behind the front group at the finish line. Doing some math in my head I figured if the gap is 10 seconds and the pace is 24mph, I would have to travel 30mph for 90 seconds to close that gap, which is impossible for me. That's why I never caught those guys.

    So in your case, if your guys got a 10 second gap while you were blocking the person being dragged around, he wouldn't be able to catch them.

  12. #37
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gramercy View Post
    I would have to travel 30mph for 90 seconds to close that gap, which is impossible for me. That's why I never caught those guys.
    Add to your to-do list: fix this.

    AWC training and aero position on the bike. Neither is instantaneous to fix, but both are handy for bridging and finishing.

    Find a 3/4 mile loop that you can blast around, and test your progress until you can do it in 90 seconds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
    Yeah, I've been in a couple P/1/2/3 crits that averaged that high, and I've consitently found that faster races are easier, as indicated by globecanvas near the top of this thread. If the race is really fast, then it's probably an easy course. Higher average speed also means a bigger differential between power at the front and power in the pack.

    One of my "hardest" races every season is a little local race that is often quite "slow" (26-27 with a hill every lap). THe biggest issue is that becuase its so slow we're always attacking/jumping between 20-35. It's a tad harder than some of my races which average 28-29, but are more steady state. However, moving up at RATL is a lot easier than moving up at Hyde Park
    cat 1-o-meter: wtf am i doing??????
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    I'm glad I can offer some help...
    Just skimmed some of your blog. I'll be doing much more reading there! Thanks again for all the insight.

    And thanks to everyone else who's posting as well. Very helpful to read other's experiences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AERO63 View Post
    Just skimmed some of your blog. I'll be doing much more reading there! Thanks again for all the insight.

    And thanks to everyone else who's posting as well. Very helpful to read other's experiences.
    skimming CDR posts will take you days, I cant imagine how long it takes to skim the blog

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    It's worth it.

    I also second the recommendation to get Jamie's book. I am reading it again for a fourth time. It's just that well written.

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    I read it on the plane for both of my trips to Central America. Both ways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
    Add to your to-do list: fix this.

    AWC training and aero position on the bike. Neither is instantaneous to fix, but both are handy for bridging and finishing.

    Find a 3/4 mile loop that you can blast around, and test your progress until you can do it in 90 seconds.
    @Gramercy or just don't let your race depend on someone else. also don't let gaps open.

    bridging to a break is one thing, but if you're "bridging" back to the pack then you're either lacking base fitness or did something stupid to let them just ride away. it'd be way easier to just learn how to stay in the pack than learning how to hold 30 mph.
    cat 1.

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    10s seems like a biiiiig gap. I'd be more inclined to think if you were up by 10s you'd be in a break and if you were off by 10s you'd be in the process of being dropped if not totally dropped. When I think gap, I think 3-5 bike lengths. 10s at crit speed (~25mph) is 100+ meters.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hack View Post
    10s seems like a biiiiig gap. I'd be more inclined to think if you were up by 10s you'd be in a break and if you were off by 10s you'd be in the process of being dropped if not totally dropped. When I think gap, I think 3-5 bike lengths. 10s at crit speed (~25mph) is 100+ meters.
    I tell people that 10s is the maximum bridgeable gap by a solo rider, in our world. Do it fast and get on before you go too deep into the red. If you get launched by a teammate then you get an extra 7-8 seconds room, so a 17-18 second break is reachable. This is assuming that you didn't respond due to tactical reasons, not because you were totally blown. I read this somewhere a long time ago (25 years ago?) and I found it to be pretty accurate for a Cat 3-4 type rider.

    As you point out, if you're off the back, i.e. you got dropped, it's different. A second or two is an eternity for someone that just got shelled.

    In one clip I say that bridging should be done very hard, very quickly (about 6 min in). I compare a slow bridge to paying off a credit card by paying the minimum payment each month. Most new racers don't realize just how hard you have to go to bridge even a 10s gap. For me it's 30-32 mph, and I'm hoping the break doesn't explode when I get there.

    In the pros and P12s it's a different story. When Steve Bauer was on La Vie Claire he ended up bridging some massive gap in the Coors Classic or Red Zinger or whatever it was (Phil Anderson, Andy Hampsten, Lemond, Hinault, etc were there). He churned away for something like 50 km before he bridged. The author of the race report/article, I think it was Bicycling, said that he was surprised at how nonchalantly Bauer worked. The author realized that, yes, Bauer had literally an hour or so to catch the break, he was strong, so he took his time. This is totally unlike an amateur race, where the strong rider off the front will only get further away the longer you wait.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

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    Also for me the following has worked when I am trying to help new racers.

    It's titled working on sprinting but it's really working on speed in a solo/controlled situation.
    Sprinter della Casa: How To - Working on sprinting
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  22. #47
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    there are some gaps you cannot bridge in 10s and you need to settle in to TT and hope the group ahead lets you back on with imperfect rotations, disorganization, or slower pace through corners etc...

    just because you can't get there in one anaerobic effort doesn't mean it can't be done.

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    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm View Post
    @Gramercy or just don't let your race depend on someone else. also don't let gaps open.

    bridging to a break is one thing, but if you're "bridging" back to the pack then you're either lacking base fitness or did something stupid to let them just ride away. it'd be way easier to just learn how to stay in the pack than learning how to hold 30 mph.
    Yeah, I just think it's a handy arrow to have in the quiver in the future.

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    there are some gaps you cannot bridge in 10s and you need to settle in to TT and hope the group ahead lets you back on with imperfect rotations, disorganization, or slower pace through corners etc...

    just because you can't get there in one anaerobic effort doesn't mean it can't be done.
    True for sure. The caveat is that the rider has to have the ability to actually TT at a reasonable pace, like 25-28 mph, if not a bit faster, for the several minutes it might take to bridge. For a Cat 3-4 that may not be a reality.

    For me, my max TT pace for a minute within a race situation, in kind conditions (no wind, flat, nice pavement, etc) is about 27 mph. For more than a minute or two it's closer to 22-23 mph, unless I go at the start when I'm fresh, and then I can go something like 25-27 mph for a minute or three (but then I'm done for the race). If I go super hard for 30-40 seconds it's more like 32-36 mph (and I'm almost always making those efforts in either tailwinds or crosswinds). So for me if I don't cross the gap anaerobically realistically I won't do it at all.

    With the 10s rule of thumb it eliminates a lot of the random variables. If a rider launches really hard they'll usually be able to bridge the gap, regardless of minor errors or good moves on the part of the break. The only countermove would be to make a similarly hard effort in the break but that's usually not going to happen, at least not in most Cat 3-4 level races.

    Obviously if the gap is 10s it's very tenuous and lots of people are thinking it could come back, even in the Cat 3-4s.

    Finally, I realized I didn't point this out, this is for crits. In a road race a good climber can close massive gaps on a climb, and there's a massive emphasis on w/kg for different length time outputs (1m, 5m, 10m, etc) in terms of performance. In a crit a clever rider can nullify much of a stronger rider's advantages.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    there are some gaps you cannot bridge in 10s and you need to settle in to TT and hope the group ahead lets you back on with imperfect rotations, disorganization, or slower pace through corners etc...

    just because you can't get there in one anaerobic effort doesn't mean it can't be done.
    I think this partly depends on the particular talents of the individual trying to bridge. For you, settling in to TT up to a break is probably realistic in at least some situations. For me, trying to TT my way through a 10s gap is probably a bad plan most of the time, but my anaerobic capacity is pretty darn good even when I don't have good fitness overall, so getting across a gap as fast as possible is a better strategy. And CDR is probably tilted even more to the short-term power side of this. Probably a lot of guys in crits are actually in a similar boat, they have the capacity to close those gaps if they really dig, but either don't know this or are unwilling to go that deep. Most of the time when I see someone launch a bridging effort in a 3/4 crit at less than max effort, they fade long before they get anywhere close to crossing the gap.

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