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Thread: Tactics

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    Tactics

    I haven't been involved in cycling for some time, due to raising a family(two kids). Now they are grown, and I am really enjoying following cycling again. I watched quite a bit of the sprint races at Beijing, and the track was beautiful. It looked to be very smooth and steeply banked. What suprised me was how fast the racers were going! I was also amazed at how they did it. When I was racing, we would slowly circle the track along the top near the rails, jockying for the best position, and then slowly pick up the pace until someone dropped down and the sprint would begin. When you drop down a steep banking, it is like getting shot out of a cannon, the speed increases so quickly. But this current set of sprinters start at the bottom of the track, then move halfway up the banking, pick up speed, and then drag race to the finish line. We were a lot more flashy and used the whole track. It seemed to me like a waste of banking the way the modern guys sprint, but you can't deny they are fast. My best times were in the mid 10's, on a good day. Usually an 11 or 12. These guys were posting in the 9's! WOW! I guess we looked cool, but we were doing it wrong! Maybe we should have done more strength training, and less partying!

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    Sledge Hammer FightingPanther's Avatar
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    what race were you watching?
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us."
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    Senior Member Bantam's Avatar
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    Had to be the the Match Sprint if he's talking 9's and 10's.
    2009 Paralympic Fast-O-Meter: 3/8

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    Dear FightingPanther,
    I'm not sure about the racers, because I haven't followed track racing for quite some time. I was watching the sprints, and I saw a British guy, I think his name was Hoy, and a Dutch racer, I think it was Boss, or Bos, if that helps. If you are asking what event, it is called the match sprint. When I was racing, it was a 750 meter race, but now I think it's and even 1 kilometer. I believe it's because almost all the venues are 333.33 meters, but I often raced on 250m, or even 200m. Those are really fun and steeply banked! I think they still time just the last 200 meters, not the whole race. I also used to sprint on a tandem, and I rode on the back. We called that the "Stoker". They don't have tandem sprinting at the Olympics anymore, too bad. It is really exciting to watch! I hope that clears things up.

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    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Match sprints are 3 laps, no matter what the track length, and most world cup/world/olympic level events are held on 250 m tracks these days. I think Moscow is a wood 333, but most of the others are 40 degree or more banking in the corners, wooden, 250 m.

    Tandem sprint got dropped a while ago, I think primarily for safety. There are a lot of crashes and a lot of really serious injuries.

    re tactics-- sprinters now are seem to be training and racing somewhat differently than 10-15 years ago. They're even more sprint specific than they used to be, and a lot of them are training to push a lot bigger gears. That ends up keeping the race faster before the sprint, though you still see the occasional slow tactical race and trackstand contest (often between training partners or siblings from the same country where they might be really well matched and have a lot of personal bragging rights on the line). With bigger gears on a steep track they pretty much have to roll straight to the bottom of the track off the line and then come back up-- with a really big gear on it's a lot of effort to go from zero to 16 or so to stick to the banking , straight off the line on a typical modern 250.

    They're still using the whole track and taking advantage of the banking, they're just using it differently. The other thing that happens on a 250 is that for well matched sprinters it's a lot harder to win from behind-- the home straight is typically pretty short and you have to start your pass in the turn, which makes you ride a farther distance than the rider on the inside. It still happens though.
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    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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    Hmm... at Alpenrose (268m) it seems like the rider on the outside coming through the final stretch would win more often than not. You definitely have to make your move before the end of turn 4 but I think despite having to ride a slightly farther distance, there's advantage in coming down the banking and getting a little added 'oomph' from the walls vs. the guy in the sprinter's lane who gets no such advantage.

    Of course, it all depends on the riders themselves too.

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    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andre nickatina View Post
    there's advantage in coming down the banking and getting a little added 'oomph' from the walls vs. the guy in the sprinter's lane who gets no such advantage.
    the guy in the sprinter's lane should have gotten his acceleration off the banking, too. And if they're not already both at the bottom of the track going into the last turn at high speed then the sprint is starting pretty late. I don't know that I've seen many sprints recently where there's still someone up high going into 3/4 for the last time.
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    Senior Member melville's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitingduck View Post
    Match sprints are 3 laps, no matter what the track length, and most world cup/world/olympic level events are held on 250 m tracks these days. I think Moscow is a wood 333, but most of the others are 40 degree or more banking in the corners, wooden, 250 m.

    Tandem sprint got dropped a while ago, I think primarily for safety. There are a lot of crashes and a lot of really serious injuries.

    re tactics-- sprinters now are seem to be training and racing somewhat differently than 10-15 years ago. They're even more sprint specific than they used to be, and a lot of them are training to push a lot bigger gears. That ends up keeping the race faster before the sprint, though you still see the occasional slow tactical race and trackstand contest (often between training partners or siblings from the same country where they might be really well matched and have a lot of personal bragging rights on the line). With bigger gears on a steep track they pretty much have to roll straight to the bottom of the track off the line and then come back up-- with a really big gear on it's a lot of effort to go from zero to 16 or so to stick to the banking , straight off the line on a typical modern 250.

    They're still using the whole track and taking advantage of the banking, they're just using it differently. The other thing that happens on a 250 is that for well matched sprinters it's a lot harder to win from behind-- the home straight is typically pretty short and you have to start your pass in the turn, which makes you ride a farther distance than the rider on the inside. It still happens though.
    That's about what I figured, but couldn't put it together in such a cohesive thought.

    OP's tactics were what I was taught at Marymoor (400m track-we did only two laps) ~20 years ago. If you drew the inside and were obligated to go at the walking pace, the thing to do was go right to the rail (leaving barely room to pass above) and look over your left shoulder. If the rider behind you wanted to pass above you, you'd know from his bumping you on the way by. If he launched under you, you'd have a front row seat for it. It was a safe tactic to use until you knew more about your relative strengths and those of your opponents.

    One of my teammates in his first trip to nats used that tactic exclusively and made it to top eight, winning repechages to get there. He'd qualified 24th (11.9?) and drew Ken Carpenter in the first round

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    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitingduck View Post
    the guy in the sprinter's lane should have gotten his acceleration off the banking, too. And if they're not already both at the bottom of the track going into the last turn at high speed then the sprint is starting pretty late. I don't know that I've seen many sprints recently where there's still someone up high going into 3/4 for the last time.
    Training with a teammate at the track, we were riding two abreast/side by side going the same speed. With him in the sprinter's lane/me directly on his right, he'd always pass me a little coming into the turn but on the way out, I'd edge past him. So this is where I'm getting my idea, other than that of the match sprints I watched and raced, the outside person usually edged past as well. Not high up on the wall by any means but just within reach to the right of sprint lane.

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    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andre nickatina View Post
    Training with a teammate at the track, we were riding two abreast/side by side going the same speed. With him in the sprinter's lane/me directly on his right, he'd always pass me a little coming into the turn but on the way out, I'd edge past him.
    If you're riding side by side in the turn at the same angular velocity (i.e. staying even), the outside guy is going faster-- covering about 1-3 meters farther over the angle through the turn (depending on the separation between the riders). If the distance covered in the subsequent straight is comparable, the outside rider will gain a similar 1-3 meters. You're watching sprints where the guy who would win a drag race takes it from the back.
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    Ahh - thanks for clearing that up.

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    The bigger gear style makes sense, because your top end will be faster. Hence the lower 200m times. Road sprinters will use the biggest gear they can, for several reasons. After four hours in the saddle, the legs don't have the same snap as just after warming up for 15 minutes. Also, they are coming off a long wind-up, and the speed is already just about max. The gears they use are in the 102-112 range. When I was racing, the gear we chose wa based on the track surface, and the opponent. I was more of a quick accelerator, so I chose smaller gears, in the low 90's, sometimes even an 88. When someone is going for the line, following tight on the lead wheel, when you try to come around, you don't have anymore speed than the wheel you are following, and you hit the unsheltered air, and with the same effort, you actually slow down. We used to call this "Hanging laundry". I used a tactic we called "The slingshot". From the back, you follow the lead rider from a distance, and when the sprint begins, you sprint as hard as possible aiming for the rear wheel, and when you are about 50m from the line, you should be up to the rider, and you use their draft to come by at a higher rate of speed, so you can "slingshot" past. But, it all comes down to a "High-Speed chess game". I beat Ken Carpenter in '78 at the San Diego velo by holding him up against the rail until I felt I could go full out to the line. I took off, and he came up behind me, and came around at like 50 times faster, but too late. My home velo was Encino, but we loved going to TTown. My old teammate, Pat McDonough, was the dierctor there, and we went with Gibby Hatton and Mark Whitehead, so it was an adventure. Moscow is a wood 333 but I never got the chance to ride on it, they cancelled that trip. Thanks, Jimmy! My fav track was Colorado Springs. But the best racing was TTown. I could never beat LeMond on the road, but I had his ass on the track!!

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