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Tips for a 9 man TTT?

Old 03-28-07, 05:02 PM
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Pizza Man
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Tips for a 9 man TTT?

What’s the most efficient formation for a TTT. My team will be doing one next Tuesday night. We should have the maximum of 9 riders allowed in the race, though our abilities are a bit varied (Cat 2 to Cat 5).

I am thinking a single file paceline with guys pulling for roughly 30 seconds then pulling off into the wind and soft pedaling until they get to the back of the line.

Does it make sense for the weaker riders to pull for 10-15 seconds and the stronger riders to pull for 45-60 seconds? Or should we each pull for the same length of time and have the weaker riders drop out at some point? (Time is taken on 4th rider across the line)

Any other tips or advice?

Thanks!
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Old 03-28-07, 05:17 PM
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My thinking has always been shorter pulls with more riders, roughly 10-20 seconds for everyone. I'm not sure if you know him, but Daniel Holloway, who went to Jr. Track Worlds and races at Hellyer often, told me that he raced a large TTT somewhere-or-other and each rider pulled for eight pedal strokes each before they pulled off.
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Old 03-28-07, 05:24 PM
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Practice, keep a journal of what happened, then bring that info back here...
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Old 03-28-07, 05:30 PM
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I think the weaker riders should just pull right through like a rotating paceline (assuming they can keep it steady). I think 15 seconds should be the max for the stronger riders. Maybe longer once the group gets to 4 or 5 riders. 45-60 seconds is a really long pull even for a 4 man TT. Please do let us know what you do and how well it works.

Good luck.
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Old 03-28-07, 05:58 PM
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I vote for sitting on Pizza Man's wheel!
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Old 03-28-07, 06:32 PM
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Rotating paceline, pull just long enough to get around the guy ahead of you, let the weaker riders sit in longer on the back or maybe never let them pull at all (I have seen pro TTT's where the last three will be behind a six man rotating paceline). No experience with it myself, but would emphasize practice because a touch of wheels wipes out the entire race.
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Old 03-28-07, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by DrWJODonnell
I have seen pro TTT's where the last three will be behind a six man rotating paceline).
That's a great tactic I've seen in stage races where some of the weaker TT riders (who are generally also good climbers) will be needed in the mountains the next day; so they hang on the back to save themselves for their leader.
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Old 03-28-07, 08:04 PM
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i don't know anything, just purely talking, but if pulls are so short, doesn't that mean that there are 2 people in the wind more often (the guy pulling and the guy falling back)? How many people do you need to have before you just start a rotating double paceline?
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Old 03-28-07, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by brianappleby
i don't know anything, just purely talking, but if pulls are so short, doesn't that mean that there are 2 people in the wind more often (the guy pulling and the guy falling back)? How many people do you need to have before you just start a rotating double paceline?
Yeah, that's how it seems, but the going back rider isn't burning much energy. It only turns out to be like a 10s pull, then you back off when you pull out. The group has to work well together to go really fast this way, but the really technical teams (CA, CSC, Disco) can pull it off crisply.

Even if you're not entirely crisp, pulling much longer than 15s just creates too much waiting for everyone to get a turn. There's too much horsepower that's already recovered when you have to wait 4 minutes to pull 30 seconds -- likely to start creating gaps. If you have a really lopsided team, you have to do a longer pull for the strong riders though. It's probably best to group them together, and group the weaker riders together opposite them in the rotation (to keep things smoother).
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Old 03-28-07, 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by waterrockets
Yeah, that's how it seems, but the going back rider isn't burning much energy. It only turns out to be like a 10s pull, then you back off when you pull out. The group has to work well together to go really fast this way, but the really technical teams (CA, CSC, Disco) can pull it off crisply.

Even if you're not entirely crisp, pulling much longer than 15s just creates too much waiting for everyone to get a turn. There's too much horsepower that's already recovered when you have to wait 4 minutes to pull 30 seconds -- likely to start creating gaps.
If you have a really lopsided team, you have to do a longer pull for the strong riders though. It's probably best to group them together, and group the weaker riders together opposite them in the rotation (to keep things smoother).
I have a book by arnie baker that agrees.
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Old 03-28-07, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Nacho Speedee
I vote for sitting on Pizza Man's wheel!
Hey, you're on the team (if the wife lets you), and you're pulling like everyone else!
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Old 03-28-07, 09:41 PM
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Thanks for the advice guys, we'll try very short pulls as long as everyone feels good, then as guys start getting tired we'll have the stronger guys pull a little longer.

I'll report back after the race.
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Old 03-28-07, 11:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Pizza Man
Thanks for the advice guys, we'll try very short pulls as long as everyone feels good, then as guys start getting tired we'll have the stronger guys pull a little longer.

I'll report back after the race.
sounds good, early on the weaker riders should be able to keep the pace high. later on they can sit on more.

other thoughts:
smoothness is key, keeping the pace consistent, but you already know that.
do you have someone who's in charge, who will call the shots tell people when to pull off and direct the team?
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Old 03-29-07, 12:00 AM
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I'd love to do a TTT like that, it'd be worth the drive over the hill. Who is putting it on?
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Old 03-29-07, 07:28 AM
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If only 4 guys count for time it seems illogical to let the weaker riders sit in skipping or not pulling at all. If they are not there to put in effort then they dont need to be there. Could you have 4 weaker riders rotating while the stronger guys sit in and at a some distance pull off and drop down to 5 riders(1 spare)?
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Old 03-29-07, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by jrennie
If only 4 guys count for time it seems illogical to let the weaker riders sit in skipping or not pulling at all. If they are not there to put in effort then they dont need to be there. Could you have 4 weaker riders rotating while the stronger guys sit in and at a some distance pull off and drop down to 5 riders(1 spare)?
It actually makes you faster to have someone drafting you. It's minor, but filling some of the low pressure zone behind you is beneficial. They could also come in handy of something happens to another rider (hits the wall, flats, etc)
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Old 03-29-07, 08:41 AM
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Don't slow off the pull. Pull off to the side and let the second rider push the speed up a little. If a rider comes off the pull and slows then they just lost a bike length worth of time- at every transition which adds up.
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Old 03-29-07, 08:46 AM
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I am pretty sure the pro teams dont "push the speed up" on every pull. You can only push it for so many rotations before you are maxed out(both speed and power)
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Old 03-29-07, 10:05 AM
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did a few TTT's, never successfully, and so hopefully you can benefit from what I've observed.

1. You win on speed. If someone can't keep the speed up, then you have to either have them sit or just sacrifice themselves and drop out. Do some drills so you have an idea of what speed you do on a flat, slight uphills, and slight downhills, and go from there. Single pacelines are a lot easier to accelerate correctly, and a strong rider can contribute a lot by increasing pace gradually.

2. Hills separate strong from weak, even gradual ones or little speed bump hills. Make sure your strong riders dial it back a bit so you keep enough guys to rotate. The tendency is to go anaerobic on short hill but that will shed the riders already on the edge.

3. Stay tight. There's benefit to staying close to each other side by side. The person swinging off shouldn't move over like they just led out McEwen, they should move over one "lane" and drift back next to the line.

4. There is debris on the shoulder. At minimum, ride where the outside car tires go, not on the shoulder (i.e. ride where the right tire drives along for left hand drive cars). Flats don't help your time. This also gives options for pulling off on one side or the other.

Note: in crosswinds, use the whole road. If you're at the front, figure out where the wind is coming from. Turn your head slightly from side to side - when the wind roar is the same in both ears, you're looking into the wind... the other thing I tell the young guys is "Figure out which ear has wind in it - like your girlfriend is blowing into it - and that's where the wind is coming from". Then you have to figure out where the guys will need to sit to "draft" - it may be virtually next to you, or it might be behind you. Then move to the point of the road which would allow for everyone to draft correctly.

5. Pull off on the non-wind side. I've read everywhere you should pull off into the wind. But my experience is that when you are at your limits, staying in the wind as you drift back is bad news - it's very, very hard to get back on. Instead, pull off on the sheltered side so you can start to recover right away.

6. Elbow wiggle - wiggle your elbow on the side you think the person behind you should go as you pull off. If you pull off to the left, start moving over and wiggle your right elbow. Practice this so you can pull off on the other side without crashing people, i.e. move to the right and wiggle your left elbow. I don't know what to do if you're on the aero bars.

7. Communicate - if doing a double paceline, after you pull off, watch the rider pulling through until their rear wheel barely clears your front. Yell "clear" and that ride can pull off without worrying about taking you out. Even in a single paceline you can do this - so if a rider is at his limits, he can pull off as soon as possible.

Note: for mental comfort, I think a double paceline occupies everyone more and is more comforting - in a single paceline you're suffering on your own, double you can look over and think "oh he's suffering too". However, it isn't as flexible as a single paceline (i.e. you have to pull off immediately, harder to do crosswinds, etc). I think a single paceline is more flexible and probably better for a TTT with a variety of abilities. Just watch the gaps at the back end of the group.

Second Note: someone did a study and found that a double paceline loses more bike lengths than a single paceline (the concept pointed out by Trevor98). I think that's why the tendency is to do single pacelines in the pros.

8. Don't accelerate when you pull through, unless people are getting anxious and you need to raise the pace. If you do need to accelerate (if you're the strong rider) then do it gradually and hold your new speed for a bit before pulling off. Accelerating when pulling through is the best way to shatter any semblence of team cohesion. Accelerating a single paceline works reasonably well, a double is harder to accelerate.

9. On up hills, use your HRM to gauge your effort. Your speed no longer works as a measure of effort. Instead, keep your heartrate steady (i.e. pegged) and shift accordingly. If you're in front you may think you're going slow but the ones at the back, esp the one that last pulled, are probably dying a thousands deaths to hang on. If the hill is at the end, then use your non-climbers to "lead out" the climbers to the base of the hill.

10. On downhills, pull very, very hard and pull off right away. Riders behind should yell something (like "Go, go, go") if they are coasting or braking. I think a team goes between 5 and 10 mph slower on downhills than they really should, due to the guy in front sitting there too long. Once you hit a speed where you're spinning really quick, tuck and coast. Don't max your heartrate pedaling insane rpm's, recover for the inevitable flat or uphill section.

11. If you're starting to struggle, pull through firmly and quickly and pull off right away. This is more for single pacelines. If you're really struggling, you can skip your pull. To make it clear you're skipping your pull, move over to the "dropping back" rider's wheel as soon as you can. This way you don't open a gap which will kill you to close.

12. When getting back in line, start to accelerate when the last guy's cranks pass you. Don't wait till he's all the way past you. I find this is the hardest part of a TTT, this last effort before you are sheltered again (a close second is when you're in a double paceline and the guy after you decides to take a long pull, leaving you stranded in the wind... I hate that).

13. Ideally someone should have an idea of what's going on and "coach" while it's going on but that's a bonus. Call out single or double, wind from left or right, move more to the left or right (if last guys are struggling on the shoulder or yellow line), ease up (if group disintegrates on hill), etc etc. A follow car is ideal but an experienced rider in the TTT works well too.

14. We did our TTT's with the shortest rider in front, the tallest in back. This way everyone has some semblance of a draft, and the short one gets a great draft off the tallest one. Not sure if there is a better method.

Good luck
cdr
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Old 03-29-07, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing
2. Hills separate strong from weak, even gradual ones or little speed bump hills. Make sure your strong riders dial it back a bit so you keep enough guys to rotate. The tendency is to go anaerobic on short hill but that will shed the riders already on the edge.
+1 I like to have the weaker riders pull up the climbs. There's not much draft, so they wouldn't be recovering anyway. It also allows them to set a pace that won't drop them. When you get to the top, the strong riders will be fully recovered and can tear sh*t up on the descent or flats, where everyone gets such a great draft benefit.

Doing the opposite of this is a good tactic for softening up the competition in a break
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Old 03-30-07, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing
5. Pull off on the non-wind side. I've read everywhere you should pull off into the wind. But my experience is that when you are at your limits, staying in the wind as you drift back is bad news - it's very, very hard to get back on. Instead, pull off on the sheltered side so you can start to recover right away.
Incorrect, and very dangerous. Think about it; if you have a crosswind, you'll have riders staggered to one side behind you and most likely overlapping wheels, especially in a strong crosswind. If the lead rider pulls off away from the wind, they'll take wheels with them, sending their team to the pavement. Either that or they'll have to accellerate just to move up and around the wheel behind them. Always pull off into the wind.
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Old 03-30-07, 09:30 AM
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Right you are. I was thinking of single pace line type work where the team is basically in single file. I should have added a "Note:".

With crosswinds, a double paceline works well and as you point out you drift back a bit then start moving to the side.

I still stand by the "pull off to the sheltered side" if the team is in single file and there is a light angle on the wind, it won't be unsafe to pull off on the sheltered side. The overlap might be a few inches between each rider and the rider dropping back can still find a tiny bit of shelter without endangering everyone. And if you can buy yourself an mph or two by doing this, it'll be worth it.

This would be for a TTT with some semblence of road/traffic control and familiarity with teammates. In a regular group doing a rotating paceline, pulling off into the wind is a lot safer.

cdr
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