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girlcyclist 06-27-13 07:45 AM

Grass Track- Need help with tactics...
Hi again,

I'm 17 years old and have been cycling for around 9 months now, I came into the 'cycling world' with little to no fitness and no knowledge whatsoever, I was dropped on the easiest club ride, constantly dropped by kids younger than me, rode most training sessions at the back, alone, trying to get back to the pack...however, I carried on and I've managed to build my fitness/knowledge and mindset, I no longer have this problem and am slowly, but surely catching up with other riders my age...My training is mainly based on the road, however I started track cycling about 3 months ago and racing at a nearby grass track,
I have found with track, I have the speed the other riders have, and can stay in the pack, but I have very little knowledge on tactics, and to be honest, a poor sprint, specifically racing on grass.

I'm competing in the Grass Track Nationals this Saturday, it consists of 3 events, a 1 lap (400m) Sprint, all out from start to finish, a 3 lap pursuit, and a 3 lap scratch race. I'll be competing against other girls who I believe, without sounding arrogant, I'm confident I can beat, I'm pretty much the same ability, but I know that with the added knowledge of tactics, I would have a great shot of winning.

The tactics I have used before now:
1 Lap Sprint: Slot into the pack somewhere, attempt to sprint in the last 50m (This, so far, hasn't worked, I always have bad starts, my fault because I have little knowledge on how to start from the held position, this means I have to sprint the first 50-100m to gain a place in the pack, and am usually burnt out before the last 100m)

3 Lap Pursuit (Never done)

3 Lap Scratch:
Stick near the front of the pack, but not right at the front, attempt to outsprint others in the last 150m or so (This gained me a 3rd place, however, I always find that the pace of these races in the first 2 laps are relatively slow, leaving the real sprinters with plenty of energy left for the final sprint, enabling them to easily outsprint everyone in the last lap.)

I've spent the past few weeks working specifically on my sprint, which has improved, but still isn't brilliant, I don't feel I have the acceleration or 'kick' other riders have, mine seems to have more of a gradual increase in speed...I'm quite slight and have been told I have the figure of an endurance rider, which is why I can't sprint...but I do believe I can improve, with time, just not in time for the nationals.

The bottom line of this is, I want to be able to do as much as I can, tactically, to not have to rely soley on the final sprint in the races, and somehow, be as efficient as possible, and do as much as I can without the 'kick' in the 1 Lap Sprint event.

I wondered if anyone has any tactics/knowledge/ideas that could benefit me for the 3 races?
I very much appreciate any advice I'm given, it really does mean a lot :)

Kayce 06-27-13 11:26 AM

Based on what you have said it sounds like the Pursuit may be your best event. Its about holding a good even pace for the long haul. The best thing to do is have a calm but good start, then settle into your pace and push it. You don't want to have a really hard start and burn out at the end.

David Broon 06-30-13 04:01 PM

Starting with the fact that I've never raced on a grass track, and don't really know if the tactics used are different, here's what I'd be thinking:

Go long. If you're built as an endurance rider, make the sprinters ride endurance, don't try and sprint against the riders who are sprinters. That could be an early attack, or simply going to the front and pushing the pace for long enough that the sprinters can't hang on.

With the pursuit, try and get a handful of three lap efforts in at around 75%. Get a feel for the length and the distance, and the pacing will come. I personally like to start hard, and not be afraid of the positive split, but that's a very, very, very personal choice. The best advice for pursuits comes from Carleton, who reminded me that "Once you see jesus, you're still about two minutes from blacking out. Keep going."

Mentally, you seem to be in a very good headspace. One of my teammates is around a year older than you, and Confidence is good, but remember that they are thinking the exact same thing, and you can still beat them anyways. While that sort of attitude is great, it's a good one to keep in your head, and not spout around.

Remember, even the best can be beaten if they're overconfident. Hoy got knocked out in the qualifying rounds by a teenager once.

Have fun, and good luck!

bitingduck 06-30-13 11:14 PM

1 lap sprint: practice your starts from being held. In a race that short, the start matters a lot, and if you're gassed from chasing back up you can't sprint. Pick someone faster than you in the sprint who's likely to win and sit tight on their wheel-- follow them as close as you can through the sprint and try to get around at the end. If you can, you might win, if you can't, you'll still get a good place.

Pursuit: is it what we call "australian pursuit" where people are uniformly spaced around the track at the start, you get pulled when you're passed, and the last person on the track wins? Or more like a 3 lap time trial? If it's the latter, work on maintaining a steady high speed. If it's the former, your start will matter a lot-- you don't want to get caught early because of a bad start-- you want to have a good start and pick people off slowly (maintaining the highest speed you can maintain steadily)

3 lap scratch: As an endurance rider, I'd sit on the back, attack hard and wide (inside if the pack is outside, outside if the pack is inside) and make them chase. If you surprise them you'll be at speed before they can react. If they're gaining, ride at ~85% and let them catch, go to the back and do it again (and don't let them recover). Each time the "pure sprinters" will stare at each other hoping someone else leads the chase, letting you get a gap and making it harder once they do chase. If they're likely to catch you, you don't want to be going 100%, you want to be going at a steady tempo you can recover from so you can do it again shortly after getting caught. In a 1200 m race you might get to attack 3 times. If you're making the gap bigger while riding tempo, slowly ramp it up, and then go full out with 3/4 to 1/2 lap to go (depending on how far you can go at absolute max)

girlcyclist 07-02-13 09:57 AM

Thanks for all the advice guys, I can't thank you enough, I managed to win 1st place in all 3 races, meaning I'm now the Regional and National Champion in my age category! Thanks again, much appreciated.

himespau 07-02-13 10:11 AM

congrats :thumb:

David Broon 07-03-13 10:24 AM


Originally Posted by girlcyclist (Post 15806236)
Thanks for all the advice guys, I can't thank you enough, I managed to win 1st place in all 3 races, meaning I'm now the Regional and National Champion in my age category! Thanks again, much appreciated.

Well done! Now we just have to get you onto a real track sometime.

bitingduck 07-04-13 10:53 PM


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