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Thread: Crit Q

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    Senior Member bbbean's Avatar
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    Crit Q

    Crit Q: I'm able to consistenty hold a position in the front 1/3 of the pack, and finish with the front pack, but in 3 out of the last 4 races, the top 5 or 6 finishers jumped in the last 1/4 lap, and I just couldn't join them.
    Does this sound like a training issue or a strategy issue? FWIW, on the ride home from the race, I consistently knock out a few PRs and fast hill climbs, so I know I've got the legs to do better, but they just aren't there when I need them.

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    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    On the fitness side, it sounds like a threshold and VO2Max issue to me. Threshold will give you the ability to recover from earlier efforts faster, and VO2Max obviously helps with the digs too.

    The thing to look out for though, is how much energy you're using during the race. Some races you just can't take it easy, but other times you should be able to come into the finale with NP way under threshold. Are there tactical decisions being made that are putting you in the wind to maintain position? Gaps in front of you? Cat 5 position (really high shoulders)? Too low of a cadence?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
    Crit Q: I'm able to consistenty hold a position in the front 1/3 of the pack, and finish with the front pack, but in 3 out of the last 4 races, the top 5 or 6 finishers jumped in the last 1/4 lap, and I just couldn't join them.
    Does this sound like a training issue or a strategy issue? FWIW, on the ride home from the race, I consistently knock out a few PRs and fast hill climbs, so I know I've got the legs to do better, but they just aren't there when I need them.

    BB
    sounds like a strategy issue or a combination of both. were these the same riders in each race?

    given both riders are the same weight, ftp, etc., the one who attacks first forces the other to work harder to catch-up unless you can use them as a wind shield and use less power to stay on their wheel. it seems that those riders are able to save more energy for a 30-second or 1-minute effort than you're able to. Although they're likely putting themselves at risk of being or being collected in a crash if they're staying in the back/middle.

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    powered by Racer Ex gsteinb's Avatar
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    how many guys is that 1/3?

    if you're 30 back with a 1/4 lap to go you might as well drop out at the bell and watch the finish, because your day is done.

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    Senior Member bbbean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
    how many guys is that 1/3?

    if you're 30 back with a 1/4 lap to go you might as well drop out at the bell and watch the finish, because your day is done.
    We typically have 25-35 racers in the weekly crit. I'm typically back and forth between 2nd wheel and 10th wheel. I'm a better descender and bike handler than most of my peers, but I'm not a great climber. I'm also 15-25 years older than most of the top 5 or 6, but I try not to let all those extra years make me overconfident.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
    Crit Q: I'm able to consistenty hold a position in the front 1/3 of the pack, and finish with the front pack, but in 3 out of the last 4 races, the top 5 or 6 finishers jumped in the last 1/4 lap, and I just couldn't join them.
    Does this sound like a training issue or a strategy issue? FWIW, on the ride home from the race, I consistently knock out a few PRs and fast hill climbs, so I know I've got the legs to do better, but they just aren't there when I need them.

    BB
    It sounds to me like you are not a sprinter. I know a little bit about this condition.

    The key, in my situation, is to not be near enough these guys at the finish that they can get past me. Sometimes it happens, most times it doesn't, but I have to gamble a lot because when it comes to a field sprint, the house already has all my money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
    Crit Q: I'm able to consistenty hold a position in the front 1/3 of the pack, and finish with the front pack, but in 3 out of the last 4 races, the top 5 or 6 finishers jumped in the last 1/4 lap, and I just couldn't join them.
    Does this sound like a training issue or a strategy issue? FWIW, on the ride home from the race, I consistently knock out a few PRs and fast hill climbs, so I know I've got the legs to do better, but they just aren't there when I need them.

    BB
    Maybe next time try jumping with 1/2 or a 1/3 of a lap to go.
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    Senior Member jsutkeepspining's Avatar
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    Two things, most likely a mix of lack of top end, and not being close enough to the wheel in front of you. If you're close to the wheel in front, jumping is a lot easier (ever looked at a power file for a lead out versus the sprinter?). The other is probably using too much energy during the race to stay way to far forward. You said they're 20-25 people in the race? You could literally sit in last place the entire race, and just move up for the sprint. Even strung out that's not a lot of people, and there is almost no incentive to stay close to the front.
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    OP, I remember when I started racing I asked a similar question on a different forum. I got a reply from a guy named Bill Corliss, and I've kept it since. Posted below, with some of my own editing are thoughts on what sounds like a similar situation.


    Generally a race gets a lot faster over the last few laps as everyone tries to move forward for the sprint. It sound to me like you need to work on both your speed and your ability to hold a postion in the pack near the end. It could also be that you simply don't have the makeup either physically or psychologoically to be a field sprinter, if that is the case you need to start figuring out how to get away during the race. It isn't a crime not to be able to do well in field sprints some can and some can't. Ultimately, this isn't a function of your training plan or whether or not you are "peaked" it is about knowing how to ride and race properly which you cannot get from doing intervals or following a training plan, it comes from time, experience and getting your ass kicked enough times that you start to get everything sorted out. It is possible that many of the guys who finish in front of you do so not because they are more fit but because they are better riders and know how to handle themselves in a pack sprint better than you do. Maybe find some guys who seem to do well in field sprints and ask them how they do it. Most will tell you that it is a matter of finding and following the right wheel. Generally, the same 10 guys will end up doing well in field sprints and they tend to kind of follow one another and all end up at the front at the same time. It is like a little chess game, sometimes somebody gets stuck in front at the wrong time and ends up leading things out and gets screwed and other times they hit the front at the right time and win, but it is generally the same few guys who do well in field sprints time after time. So, figure out who always seems to do well and put yourself on their wheel with about 3 to go and stay there, chances are you will do better in a sprint.

    In the end, this isn't really about fitness, it is about knowing how to ride and race. You can have a motor like a Ferrari, but if you are missing the steering wheel, you are not going to get very far.

    Here are a couple of cheap tips which may help your racing, then again maybe not.

    1. Try to avoid pulling when you are in the field (this rule does not apply to break aways or if you are part of an organized chase). If you are in the field and are going to find yourself at the front, you have a few options. take a quick pull and out of the way or IMO, better option is to ATTACK. Stick it to someone else and make them hurt getting up to you. When you get caught, pull off. If you are pulling you are helping everyone else in the race beat YOU.

    2. There are only two things you should ever be doing in the field if you are really part of the race and not just field filler. The first is ATTACKING the second is planning/getting ready to ATTACK, anything other than that and you are just along for the ride.

    3. When you are racing, if you want to maintain your position in the field, for every rider you notice moving past you, figure that you have to move yourself past three other riders to hold your spot as you most likely missed at least two riders moving up.

    Good luck, keep plugging along, it takes time to learn how to race. In racing once you have reached the point where you are not getting dropped from the pack the whole thing becomes less and less about fitness and more and more about smarts and skill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jsutkeepspining View Post
    Two things, most likely a mix of lack of top end, and not being close enough to the wheel in front of you. If you're close to the wheel in front, jumping is a lot easier (ever looked at a power file for a lead out versus the sprinter?). The other is probably using too much energy during the race to stay way to far forward. You said they're 20-25 people in the race? You could literally sit in last place the entire race, and just move up for the sprint. Even strung out that's not a lot of people, and there is almost no incentive to stay close to the front.
    I concur.

    There's no reason to be in the front 5 or 8 of a 25 rider field. In fact there's little reason to be in the first 15-20 wheels of any group, regardless of size. 21st wheel, okay, it can be important Seriously though the first 5-10 spots really see a lot of wind, no matter how well you're sheltered. Unless the entire field is single file and hanging on for dear life it doesn't make sense to be up in that first 5-10 spots.

    You're doing exactly what my very fit teammates did in May. They used all their energy maintaining a "front" position (so first 10 spots in the field, regardless of field size). For us on Tues Nights the fields are typically 35-45 riders. My teammates were so blown from maintaining that front position they couldn't even follow the moves in the last 5 laps of the race, forget about actually making a move.

    A month later, after some practice and some learning, not only did they have energy for the final moves, one guy lapped the field solo. Two more followed and also lapped the field and they actually did it solo as well, although one caught the other while lapping the field so the two finished together. All three guys were too blown to follow moves in previous weeks. Their fitness didn't change much but their tactics did.

    The fact that they could lap the field solo meant two things:
    1. If you use bad tactics you can neutralize yourself even if you're a very, very, very fit rider.
    2. If you use good tactics you can do much better than you might even imagine.
    Personally at the lap-the-field race I had a hard time pulling for more than 20-30 seconds at a time at a speed about 2-3 mph slower than the teammates that lapped us, and in fact I was accused, somewhat vehemently, of blocking unfairly when I was actually chasing my own teammates (my policy at the Tues races is to chase everything once they get clear, even my own teammates). The teammates that lapped the field were away for 20 minutes or more. However in prior weeks when I made moderate efforts to follow last lap moves, or when I started pulling hard, the same teammates immediately got gapped off and/or blew up.

    The second race post, which has a link to the first (disastrous) race plus 4 information posts in the middle:
    Sprinter della Casa: Racing - CCAP Tuesday Night Race, May 27, 2014

    The lapping-the-field stuff happened in June:
    Sprinter della Casa: Racing - June 24, 2014 CCAP Tuesday Night Race, Bs
    I directed all the successful moves - when to sit in prior to the move, when to not pull prior to the move, and finally when to attack. Every attack I said to launch led to that teammate lapping the field. Some shed riders that went with them but the fact is that the teammates were significantly stronger than me and as long as they had well directed efforts they could accomplish a lot in the race.
    Last edited by carpediemracing; 07-10-14 at 12:00 PM. Reason: clarify field size to be for Tues Nights
    "...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

  11. #11
    Senior Member bbbean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    It sounds to me like you are not a sprinter. I know a little bit about this condition.
    It's true. My power tops out around 900 watts or so, and I can't hold it at that level very long. If Nibali, Kittel, Sagan, or any of the other sprinters are in the race, I'm toast. I used to play rugby, so maybe I could hold my own against Cavendish.

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    Nibali and Kittel are not exactly the same ... maybe it is your eyesight

    I agree with most here, the stress of a top 10, especially in a race of 25 is not worth the hassle, unless you are on patrol for your team, or you want the extra work for training. For me the mental stress is worse than the physical toll as I just don't like to bump with the top 10 all day long.

    The last 1/4 of a lap of any race is going to be a full out sprint, so again like the rest said you need to be a sprinter to play with those people. This is not threshold or Vo2Max work, but pure sprint work. Now if you don't have the Threshold or Vo2Max to hang on during the race, that could be an issue, but based on what you said, that is not the case.

    You need to make the race harder by jumping much earlier, one or two laps to go ... whatever you can handle. If it doesn't work, oh well, waiting till the end didn't work either. Don't worry if you don't get a huge gap, just keep going and see what your limit is, sometimes the rubber band will snap or another guy will see it and want to help out. Getting two or three guys to really push the pace for the last couple of laps can help detour the sprinters, so talk to others if you can't do it yourself.

    Sit on 100% in dead last place, then move up in the final 3 laps only (I do this very very often in races). See if that helps your sprint, it is possible, but again you still need to figure out where your jump spot is, might still be 1 or 2 laps out and not in the final 1/4 of a lap. Where you jump in the final of a race is as much genetics as training, so test different spots and see where your sweet spot is.

    Play leadout, just go to the front at the start of the final lap and hammer. Sure you might get passed, but starting from the front you will find your true limit and it might tire out some of the sprinters and change the order. Find at least one sprinter you like and let them know so worst case you are giving a leadout to someone who will be happy afterwards.

    If none of that works you need to get in breaks or train differently. You don't need to put out 900 watts for a final lap effort, half that would likely be enough. However you are going to likely need to put out more than 900w if you want to play just the last 1/4 of a lap.

    Biggest thing, if it doesn't work, try again. Doesn't matter if you try the same thing or something different, but make sure you finish blown and tired. Eventually something will work out and either the group will let you go, or you will find something that works regardless of the group. Group dynamics plays into the finish more than your own personal fitness and strategy.

    Edit: The last lap, or even 2 or more for me is pretty much a sprint. I am doing 5 seconds on, rest for the corner and 5 seconds on again for the straights. I put out the most power on the final straight before the finish as I consider that the finish line and then use the corners at near max speed to limit any passing. The actual final sprint is not so much that as just using anything I have left to get over the line. My sprint power was used up in the previous straights.
    Last edited by jmikami; 07-10-14 at 04:08 PM.

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    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
    Crit Q: I'm able to consistenty hold a position in the front 1/3 of the pack, and finish with the front pack, but in 3 out of the last 4 races, the top 5 or 6 finishers jumped in the last 1/4 lap, and I just couldn't join them.
    Does this sound like a training issue or a strategy issue? FWIW, on the ride home from the race, I consistently knock out a few PRs and fast hill climbs, so I know I've got the legs to do better, but they just aren't there when I need them.

    BB
    i was thinking training issue but if you can ever with the final surge it's in your legs..

    so maybe it's a positioning issue. are they jumping from in front of u, or behind?

    also whatever PRs your hitting may not be the ones you need to follow these moves. you'll need good 10-30" power for that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
    It's true. My power tops out around 900 watts or so, and I can't hold it at that level very long.
    Is that peak or 5s?

    If it's peak are you just accelerating in that gear? Do you shift while you sprint? If you aren't shifting while you sprint then you might want to try that. In a good sprint I can hit close to the same peak at least twice and a great sprint would have a third peak that's just 10% lower or so. This means instead of one peak I have 2 3/4 peaks. That goes a long way in defeating someone trying to come around me.

    If you aren't hitting 1000w peak then you need things to go your way in a sprint, but you can do it. I won a sprint without breaking 1000w. Granted it was a training race, but it was an A race so it had Cat 2s and such. It had started to rain and they called the race. I gambled on them calling the race when the rain started and got into position. It only took a lap or two for them to call it. Therefore I was in a good position. I also knew the roads were super slick since it'd just started raining. The final corner was a bit sharp/sketchy, the finish straight is actually curved. This set the scenario for my sprint plan.

    I knew that there were only two small spots where someone could pass me - immediately after the final corner, where it's still straight, or the final 50 meters, when it's straight again. The curved part has lines in it (it's 4 lanes with solid white lines separating the lanes) so it'd be hard to pass during the curve. I gambled on the group letting me lead it out, neutralizing the first passing spot (since I'd jump and everyone would want to only follow me). They'd want to pass me "later", not realizing that the curved part would be too slick to really put the power down. That left the final straight. I decided to hold back a bit so that I could jump again just before the line. It would make it very hard for someone to pass me.

    I did exactly what I planned and it went exactly how I expected. I was dying as I got to the line, really slowing, and I got swarmed just after the line. But I'd beaten everyone else. It was done. I think my peak wattage was 980w or something and my sprint was something like 700-800w. A normal sprint for me is more like 1200-1300w peak, 900w for a bit (15 seconds?), and if it's a really good sprint then 1100w for almost 20 seconds.

    Also, in the race video thread, there's a bunch of clips by collin2985. He seems to be a similar type rider and he's been doing pretty well. His last clip posted in that thread is here. For some of his clips I offer some feedback.
    "...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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