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Lspade 11-03-13 02:40 PM

Do road tactics exist in cyclocross?
In road racing I have heard that a weaker cyclist can beat a stronger cyclist by employing smarter race tactics (such as drafting, etc).*

Would I be correct by saying this does not apply to cyclocross? Since each racer's fitness level and bike handling abilities dictate how fast they will ride the course I do not understand how tactics could mean the difference between a first-place finish and a mid-pack finish like in road racing.*

Andy_K 11-04-13 11:43 AM

In the lower cats riders hardly ever ride in packs, but in the upper cats they do. You have to be going pretty fast for drafting to be a significant factor, but it happens. Even so, the groups tend to be more like packs of 5 or 6 rather than a large peloton.

Different strategies come into play in CX, but you can still use tactics to get an edge against your nemesis. The interesting thing about CX is that when somebody with good bike handling skills is racing against somebody with more raw speed (for instance) there can be a lot of back and forth through the course as to which of them will have an advantage. A key tactic is to watch your opponent and figure out where you have an advantage and then use that information to choose the spot to make your move. For example, if your advantage is in bike handling you don't want to make your pass in the last corner before a long straightaway, but if you can hang on through a long straightaway and make a pass just before a series of corners you might be able to drop him and move on to the next guy.

Overall though, I'd say you're right. You can't get from mid-pack to a win with tactics. You can, however, make it from the back of a bunch of similarly placed riders to the front.

Fat Boy 11-04-13 05:52 PM


Originally Posted by Andy_K (Post 16218172)
Overall though, I'd say you're right. You can't get from mid-pack to a win with tactics. You can, however, make it from the back of a bunch of similarly placed riders to the front.


Lspade 11-05-13 08:59 AM

Thanks for the confirmation guys.

billh 11-20-13 12:17 PM

there is psychological benefit from sitting on someone's wheel for a lap. like mentioned about, you learn quickly where that person is fast or slow . . . unless they are faking it to fool you. I've experienced "hearing the footsteps" in two races from the same guy. I have a fast start and he usually reels me in about mid-race. The anticipation of the catch is just excruciating. Both times, when he finally clawed his way back to my wheel, I lost focus, and made a mistake, once running over a plastic stake, and the second, wiping out on a mound of mulch I had ridden successfully all the previous laps. But when someone is on your wheel. It's added pressure. that part of the mental race I have to work on.

Number400 11-20-13 12:29 PM

and fresh off the road roadies fly on the open stuff and crash going into the first technical corner afterwards :)

billh 11-20-13 03:38 PM

I've seen other road-like tactics in upper level races . . . eg. the fastest guy is in a lead group of three with two pretty fast guys from another team . . . the two pretty fast guys are just fast enough to hang on his wheel but not win the race on their own. So they start "double-teaming" him . . . that is, taking turns attacking, so the fast guy has to go out and chase the attack down . . . when he catches one guy, the other guy takes off . .. then fast guy has to chase again. Repeat, rinse, dry. Pretty soon fast guy is worn down, and the freshest of the other guys takes the win.

Niloc 12-02-13 04:15 PM

Well I'm new to this so don't have too much to add, but yesterday's race was pretty fast paced, it was surprisingly dry and there was a long, flat, hard packed stretch off the back that let you get into your upper gears (let's say 46/14 or so). I don't know at what speed drafting starts really working and for how long you need to benefit, but I got myself too far behind the lead pack on the first lap to catch up to the tail end and I was riding by myself, or least I thought I was until I looked over my shoulder I realized this other guy was sucking my wheel the whole stretch! He passed me on the first turn at the end of the stretch. I'm sure he would have passed me eventually anyways, but he decided to go ahead a suck my wheel for a minute or so before making his move.

NatUp 12-18-13 04:21 PM

Most races I'd agree that fitness is king, but on windy, flat courses there is no question: drafting can make a huge difference. My one and only appearance on a podium this year was because I shamelessly sucked a guy's wheel the WHOLE race, lost contact near the end from fatigue, then overtook him at the line because he mistakenly thought he was alone. Better fitness most assuredly did not win on that day.

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