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Race Tactics

Old 07-09-22, 05:26 PM
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rivers
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Race Tactics

I'm primarily a TTer (10 miles to 100 miles), but have been really enjoying a local race series (masters women cat 3/4) held on motor racing circuit (got to love flat, fast and smooth tarmac). I'm finishing in the bottom half to third, which isn't a huge deal to me. It's just a bit of fun/workout after work once a week. To liven things up a bit, the organisers have chucked in a sprint on a couple of the laps. I can easily stay with the main group until the sprint, and then I'm off the back. I can't sprint, and even attempting will just finish me off. My strength lies in working at threshold and into VO2 max territory. I can ride at VO2 max for up to 8 minutes (8 minutes is the longest i've ridden at VO2 max anyway), drop down to tempo/lower end of sweet spot to recover and do it again. I've compared my average speed to the chase group, and it's the same. I'm not far off the main group. In a crit race situation, how do I use my strength to my advantage? I'm not looking to win, just finish a little higher placed.
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Old 07-10-22, 01:04 PM
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tobukog
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If you want to keep up, you have to learn to somewhat sprint.

1) Use bigger gears. Too many non-sprinters try to sprint in their normal riding gear. Are you getting out of the saddle to get maximal force production?
2) Practice your sprint. From nearly a dead stop, Get out of the saddle and accelerate for 4-8 seconds. Recover 5 minutes between each sprint. Repeat 4-6 times
3) Practice your sprint. Sprint for 20seconds from a rolling start. Full recovery 5-10m after. Repeat 4-10 times.

4) Barring improving your sprint, try to anticipate the sprint. If you're strong enough and you anticipate the acceleration, a whole pack shouldn't be able to drop you on a sprint lap.
5) Start your sprint from near the front. You might lose ground, but you might stay in contact.
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Old 07-10-22, 01:38 PM
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A guy I used to train with was a terrible sprinter, but (or, maybe, therefore) he could get right back up to his threshold speed after every sprint attempt. Since you can sprint hard enough to burn yourself out, maybe you have more potential as a sprinter than you give yourself credit for.

Here's something you can try. It's a training technique I learned from a local racer who accumulated many national sprinting trophies on the track and road over the course of over 25 years of racing. (He didn't reveal this technique until the year he retired; he had kept it a secret before that.)

Objective: training for pack sprinting, where you start your sprint at 30 to 35 mph and go from there.

Find a lengthy downhill (maybe two minutes ride time or so) that has little or no traffic and no cross streets and finishes with a long flat section. Get up to the aforementioned 30 to 35 mph, and then start your sprint. Sprint for no more than 20 pedal strokes (still on the downhill section), so that you can recover sufficiently to pedal slowly back to the top of the hill and repeat.

You might want to try a couple of different cassette sprocket choices for your practice sprints. Many people overestimate their ability to turn over a gargantuan gear at sprint speeds. (That same racer had one other secret technique for sprints on the road, come to think of it: when everyone else was using either a 52 or a 53 for the big chainring, he sprinted with a 50.)
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Old 07-10-22, 01:43 PM
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Bring the others to your type of riding, force them to ride your strengths.

What you can do is follow wheels in the sprint, meaning like 10-15 wheels back (if it's a larger 60-80 rider group, maybe even 20-30 wheels back). Then as everyone eases / blows up after the sprint, do a VO2Max effort, maybe 4-5 minutes. Now the sprinter guys are already gassed, the non sprinters have to chase, and everyone is looking at one another saying, "No, you chase". And maybe you're gone.

The other thing is that motorsports parks tend to have large run off areas and are generally void of lots of tree cover etc, so they are exposed to the wind. Figure out the long straights where the wind is from the side, and ride along the gutter on the protected side (so if wind is from left, ride on right curb). Even if you're not "away", only one rider might be able to draft you, and you'll force everyone to work just as hard as you. If there's an especially long straight then you don't have to wait for a sprint or whatever. Just go to the front, get to the curb, and hammer away. It might take a few laps but you will destroy people, I guarantee you. When I raced a course that has insane winds and long straights, I would finish the day with whip marks on my shins from the weeds growing next to the course - I was riding literally on the edge of the pavement to find shelter, and the weeds would leave welts on my shins.

Those are the two things that pop into my head immediately.
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Old 07-10-22, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by rivers View Post
I can easily stay with the main group until the sprint, and then I'm off the back. I can't sprint, and even attempting will just finish me off. My strength lies in working at threshold and into VO2 max territory. I can ride at VO2 max for up to 8 minutes (8 minutes is the longest i've ridden at VO2 max anyway), drop down to tempo/lower end of sweet spot to recover and do it again.
If you're sitting in easily before the sprint, but then dropped at or after the sprint, I would recommend using your VO2max strength and attacking before the sprint. If you can attack 3-5 minutes before the sprint and get a gap, you should have time to recover and then sit in the pack when they catch you. There are plenty of articles around describing how best to launch an attack.
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Old 07-10-22, 08:11 PM
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carpediemracing 
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
A guy I used to train with was a terrible sprinter, but (or, maybe, therefore) he could get right back up to his threshold speed after every sprint attempt. Since you can sprint hard enough to burn yourself out, maybe you have more potential as a sprinter than you give yourself credit for.

Here's something you can try. It's a training technique I learned from a local racer who accumulated many national sprinting trophies on the track and road over the course of over 25 years of racing. (He didn't reveal this technique until the year he retired; he had kept it a secret before that.)

Objective: training for pack sprinting, where you start your sprint at 30 to 35 mph and go from there.

Find a lengthy downhill (maybe two minutes ride time or so) that has little or no traffic and no cross streets and finishes with a long flat section. Get up to the aforementioned 30 to 35 mph, and then start your sprint. Sprint for no more than 20 pedal strokes (still on the downhill section), so that you can recover sufficiently to pedal slowly back to the top of the hill and repeat.

You might want to try a couple of different cassette sprocket choices for your practice sprints. Many people overestimate their ability to turn over a gargantuan gear at sprint speeds. (That same racer had one other secret technique for sprints on the road, come to think of it: when everyone else was using either a 52 or a 53 for the big chainring, he sprinted with a 50.)
Heh. I came up with a similar thing. I called it "Maximum Optimal Sprint Speed" aka MOSS. Basically use a fast section of road to get a leadout (a downhill) then sprint on the flat part.

Sprinter della Casa: How To - Working on sprinting

Although I posted that in 2007, I came up with the concept in 1994 to help a teammate that was having problems with the speeds in the Cat 5s. I realized he was going max speed just in surges, forget about the attacks. He increased his top speed substantially and become a great leadout man for the team, and in March 1995 he led out our teammate for wins week after week. I posted about him too:

Sprinter della Casa: Story - Two And A Half Minutes

I'm a torque rider, as I'm finding out with my powermeter and with riding track. My secret in the old days was to put a 54T on, and later, when a lot of guys had a 54, I'd run a 55. Sometimes I'd run a 51T in the early season, to mess with people, so if they copied my gear selection in the back, they were overgeared and therefore slower to accelerate. Over the years I started approaching March as my first peak so there was no "early season" for me so I stopped with the 51T. My best year was when I peaked for late Feb to race in Belgium. Had an insanely good year, was so motivated I raced into Nov and my teammate and I briefly contemplated flying to warmer climates to keep racing that year.

And aero wheels. I ran aero wheels in the late 80s early 90s. Seemed a bit zany back then then but I gained substantial speed in sprints compared to box section wheels, so I used them. Lenticular rear disk, TriSpoke front, Zipps when they came out. In the picture below I used a box section front for total control in the tight field (SUNY Purchase Tuesday Night sprints could get crowded), rear disk for aero and lightweight.

Now if you don't have aero wheels you're disadvantaged, versus back then they actually made a difference.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
SUNYdisk.jpg (28.0 KB, 32 views)
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"...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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