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Old 06-06-16, 03:33 PM   #1
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Circuit Race Strategy

I just signed up for my first circuit race. I've done enough crits and RRs to have a decent feel for how to pace myself and the different strategies that are likely to work for me in those settings, but I'm not sure whether I should think of a Circuit Race as a crit on a longer course, or a short road race. Suggestions?

Formerly fastest rider in the grupetto, currently slowest guy in the peloton

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Old 06-06-16, 03:36 PM   #2
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Depends on the course, but I treat them like a road race.

Don't overthink it; keep up with the leaders and the way to win should be self-evident.
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Old 06-06-16, 03:43 PM   #3
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Like Matt said, it depends on the course, but they're basically short road races.

Are there any defining features of the circuit? A particularly exposed windy section? A hill? A hard corner? How wide is the road?
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Old 06-06-16, 07:49 PM   #4
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I haven't done many road races, and none since 1997, but I have done a number of circuit races. I think of circuit races as long crits, as long as any hills aren't nutty. If I can get up the hill then it's not a road race, it's a crit, and I approach the race like it's a long, meandering crit. All the tactics that apply to a crit apply to a circuit race. You learn the course. You get to preview the last few miles of the race multiple times. You get a feel for the wind, the corners, the hills. You can develop a plan. I do have a hard time remembering where the finish is and when to jump, but that's a sprinter talking.

Also if someone takes off, or if you're attacking, you have an idea of where you can or need to bury yourself. It's much easier to hang on for "just another 200 meters" in a circuit race because you know the road drops slightly in just a bit or the wind will hit nudge you forward after a couple bends or whatever. I've been in a lot of situations where I'm absolutely maxed out but I know that in just a bit such and such will happen and I'll be okay, and, for the most part, it worked out that way. In a RR, unless it's a course that's used annually and you do it annually, you really don't know when you can drill it or not, other than guessing based on elevation maps and such. But those things don't tell you if the pavement is bad or the wind is whatever. I've only done a few road races more than once so I'm not a great example of a racer that knows a 50 mile loop inside out. I'm sure there are those like that but for me a road race was always "I wonder what's up next". Also, with Strava and other maps, you'll have a decent idea of what you're facing, unlike the RR I did.
"...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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