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Drafting

Old 11-03-05, 10:40 PM
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TheRCF
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Drafting

I'm trying to clarify something I hear about racing coverage during the tour de france.

Sometimes they'll talk about someone trying to break away and then some other rider from another team will chase them down, stay on their wheel, and "drag them back".

Does this mean that having someone right behind you, assuming you are in front, slows you down (as opposed to race cars where the front car still benefits some)? And, if this is so, does it only apply when one person is behind you, but not if you are leading a large group?

Bob
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Old 11-03-05, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by TheRCF
I'm trying to clarify something I hear about racing coverage during the tour de france.

Sometimes they'll talk about someone trying to break away and then some other rider from another team will chase them down, stay on their wheel, and "drag them back".

Does this mean that having someone right behind you, assuming you are in front, slows you down (as opposed to race cars where the front car still benefits some)? And, if this is so, does it only apply when one person is behind you, but not if you are leading a large group?

Bob
The guy in front gets a small gain, but nothing like the guy behind gets.(bigger gain the larger the group) It depends if it a one day race or a stage race. In a one day race the guy drafting will be fresher at the end and can pass the other guy at the last minute and win, so he will just sit up and let them be caught. In a stage race if the guy in front has a shot at gaining time over the other guys who have a shot at winning the GC he will not care. In fact he may make a deal to share the work to gain more time and let the lesser rider win the stage.

Lots of different variations. If two guys on the same team get caught buy someone from a third team they can drop him. One with take off while the other will sit back. The odd man out will then be forced to chase and the other guy drafts him. When he catches up the second guy will take off and the odd man out will be forced to chase while the other guys rests while drafting him. Do this a few times and the third guy will use himself up faster than the other two and they will drop him.

Bike racing looks simple at first glance but it is reading the race that determines who will win. I saw one race where they did this to Armstrong and they wore him out so much he didn't have a chance.

Also, if one guy wants to disrupt the group he can keep moving to the front and slowing down, forcing the group to keep having to accelerate and wasting energy(thats called blocking)
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Old 11-04-05, 12:05 AM
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It's also very annoying to have someone sitting on your wheel and not taking a pull. Like the other poster mentioned, it's no fun at all dragging a guy behind you so that he can outsprint you at the line, or carry him up to the group ahead.
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Old 11-04-05, 01:28 PM
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The guy in back gets aproximently 80% gain. Thus pace lines. When the lead needs to recoop. He drops back to the rear of the line and the next rider takes the lead. The over all speed increases greatly. But the pack has to remain tight. Only inches from tire to tire. Not crossing wheels. Also you will se the lines go at an angle left or right from the lead. This is to break cross wind. But I must stress pace lines and drafting are very dangerious. You can not break. You must maintain pace. You must constantly watch the tire infront of you. You can not be distracted period. Otherwise you and everyone behind you is going to the hospital. Being a big guy I have riders try to draft me a lot. I dont like it, if the dont ask. It pisses me off. As it does a lot of riders. I will break thier draft and sprint. I have joined pace lines. But only with riders that know what there doing. Its just too dangerious otherwise.
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Old 11-04-05, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by TheRCF
"drag them back".

Does this mean that having someone right behind you, assuming you are in front, slows you down (as opposed to race cars where the front car still benefits some)?Bob
The direct answer to your question: No.

It doesn't physically slow the lead rider down, but since he has been tactically neutralized, he will probably give up and rejoin the pack.

It doesn't always work, though - early on in the 1995 Tour De France, Miguel Indurain broke away on a flat stage, and an ONCE domestique went out to "drag him back". Indurain didn't give up, and dragged the guy something like 50 kilometers to the finish. Indurain was beaten in the sprint, but he gained some time and mentally deflated his rivals back in the pack.
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Old 11-04-05, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by same time
The direct answer to your question: No.

It doesn't physically slow the lead rider down, but since he has been tactically neutralized, he will probably give up and rejoin the pack.

It doesn't always work, though - early on in the 1995 Tour De France, Miguel Indurain broke away on a flat stage, and an ONCE domestique went out to "drag him back". Indurain didn't give up, and dragged the guy something like 50 kilometers to the finish. Indurain was beaten in the sprint, but he gained some time and mentally deflated his rivals back in the pack.
That was Johan Bruneel (sp) the Discovery team dude, right? I really thought is was lame for him to do that, but that's racin'.
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Old 11-04-05, 03:43 PM
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Indeed, if the breakaway rider is caught and no longer believes there is a reason to continue to work so hard to stay out front, he or she is "dragged back" by the persuer. It isn't physics. Rather it is practical, competitive psychology.
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Old 11-04-05, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by bluyak
The guy in back gets aproximently 80% gain.
I think you have it reversed. The efficiency gain realized from drafting is about 20-30%. Not 80%. I've seen articles that say as high as a 40% gain. Still a far cry from 80%. You still have to do 60-80% of the work yourself.
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Old 11-04-05, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by urban_assault
That was Johan Bruneel (sp) the Discovery team dude, right? I really thought is was lame for him to do that, but that's racin'.
Yes, it was Bruyneel. He was riding for Alex Zulle, and would probably have been kicked off the team immediately if he helped Indurain. With his victory came the yellow jersey.
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Old 11-04-05, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by same time
It doesn't physically slow the lead rider down, but since he has been tactically neutralized, he will probably give up and rejoin the pack.

It doesn't always work, though - early on in the 1995 Tour De France, Miguel Indurain broke away on a flat stage, and an ONCE domestique went out to "drag him back". Indurain didn't give up, and dragged the guy something like 50 kilometers to the finish. Indurain was beaten in the sprint, but he gained some time and mentally deflated his rivals back in the pack.
Ah, your response seems to be addressing what I was actually trying to find out. I may not have fully understood the situations on this, but you mention "tactically neutralized" - then you refer to an example with Indurain.

The impression I had of the situations was that a rider who was competitive for the overall lead would try to break away. This, of course, would be a threat to other top competitors, like Armstrong.

So, when the breakaway happened, teammate of Armstrong (just as an example) would jump out with the breakaway person to pull him back. However, this person trying to drag him back would not be a threat for the overall win.

If that is the case, why would someone care if another rider got behind them if it either had no effect or if a person behind can actually help the person in front a little? I can see they may not like someone on their wheel, but they ride that way a lot at that level so it doesn't seem that it would bother the front person much and I see no tactical harm, other than missing a time bonus, it causes them.

But, like I said, maybe I didn't understand all that was happening.
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Old 11-04-05, 08:22 PM
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They don't call it "chess on wheels" for nothing. Usually, if there is a GC contender in the breakaway, then the other GC contenders will join the chase. In this years Tour, Rasmussen broke away in one of the early stages and the leaders let him go because he wasn't a contender. However, he gained a whole lot of time on the leaders and was definitely within sight of the top spots, so it probably wasn't such a good decision to let him go.

bluyak says that drafting is terribly difficult and dangerous, but it's really not so bad once you have enough experience. You don't actually sit and relentlessly watch the wheel in front of you. For that matter, if you did, you would certainly not be able to react in time. You watch the rider, and you just keep the wheel in your peripheral vision. And you trust the other riders around you to hold a very constant speed. It's certainly safer on a closed course with no debris and road hazards, than it is on the street.
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Old 11-05-05, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by TheRCF
However, this person trying to drag him back would not be a threat for the overall win.

If that is the case, why would someone care if another rider got behind them if it either had no effect or if a person behind can actually help the person in front a little?
You're right, it's not so simple if the riders are not evenly matched. Like say Jan Ullrich attacks, and Armstrong sends his weakest teammate out to cover the move. Ullrich wouldn't care and would just keep going to try to gain time.

But, the trend in bike racing is to have more than one team leader on your team. T-Mobile showed up this year with Ullrich, Vinokourov, and Kloden -- three guys you can't ignore if one of them is glued to your back wheel.

Even still, let's say Ullrich attacks and Armstrong sends his weakest rider after him. Weak rider sits on Ullrich's wheel and can wait for Armstrong to chase them both down, and then when he does he has a teammate already there - it's two Discovery riders against Ullrich. So, teammates can "drag back" stronger opponents just by letting them know that they are likely to be outnumbered if they continue.

That's how Mapei dominated the Spring Classics in the 90's - a ton of strong teammates who covered every move, then chased themselves down. It would appear foolish, teammates chasing and catching each other, until the end when they had the numerical advantage.
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Old 11-06-05, 02:52 AM
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Originally Posted by same time
Even still, let's say Ullrich attacks and Armstrong sends his weakest rider after him. Weak rider sits on Ullrich's wheel and can wait for Armstrong to chase them both down, and then when he does he has a teammate already there - it's two Discovery riders against Ullrich. So, teammates can "drag back" stronger opponents just by letting them know that they are likely to be outnumbered if they continue.
Ah, that makes sense, especially since the guy doing the chasing would just sit back and be much fresher too.

So, from all that was posted, I gather than the lead rider is not actually slowed down by having a single rider behind him.

Thanks.
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Old 11-06-05, 01:34 PM
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Why dont you just jam your brakes and wreck him!!
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