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Criterium Team Tactics(6 posts)

Criterium Team Tacticsschills
May 20, 2002 8:29 AM
I ride in a regular weekly race series that scores points for top 10 finishes in addition to top 3 finishes on each of two premium laps. At the end of the series, the top three in points receive prizes. More and more of my clubmates have joined me in this series to the point where we are now one of the two largest teams at the race. However, we ride with the most modest of plans and don't really take advantage of our numbers. One of our guys takes off and we all agree not to chase, but they never last.

I'd appreciate it if someone could explain how best to leverage our numbers. The course is about 1.8 miles and we race for an hour plus 2 laps. I'm more than willing to ride for the team as my endurance is fine, but my sprint won't get me any points this year. Any thoughts are appreciated.


re: Criterium Team Tacticsbrider
May 20, 2002 9:58 AM
Well, if you've got the numbers and the strength, you ned to start assigning roles. Who are your good sprinters? The problem most teams have (especially at the cat 4-5 level) is that their sprinters die in a breakaway and have nothing left at the end, or the TTer takes a flier with a few others, but loses the final sprint. If you've got some one who can motor away, make sure that the rest of the team blocks. If they can take one of your sprinters with them, so much the better (though that increases the likelihood of a massive chase). Taking a couple other TTers from other teams will ensure that the pack has more people blocking. Also, take advantage of the terrain -- is the sight distance fairly short? Then you need to get away QUICKLY and get out of sight before settling into TT mode. Also, you need to have the plan B, where you organize the lead-out a couple laps ahead of the final sprint (best way is to have two TTers and two sprinters).
what he said plus...lonefrontranger
May 20, 2002 11:47 AM
all of the above is good info. Added to that, if you really do have the numbers, then you need to consider going on the offensive, instead of doing what so many teams do and just following attacks and riding conservatively. If you have that many riders, then it is up to everyone else to watch out for you.

Get a few group rides together during the week and practice these tactics, and communicate with your guys to find out who's willing to be "pack fodder" for the cause. The best use of your weakest riders is to have them create all the early attacks to soften and break up the field for your strong lieutenants and sprinters late in the race. You need to message this positively because it gives the weaker guys a purpose and cause for the team, instead of simply hanging on at the back until the pace overwhelms them.

If one of your guys is a great climber but has no finish speed, then in a crit with a hill, he needs to be the one turning the screws on the climb every lap. The rest of the team sits in while he's twisting the knife, and if he gets in a good break, let it go.

If a break goes with sprinters in it and you either don't have a guy in it or he isn't a fast finisher, then you need to get a sprinter up there. Practice doing this during group rides: get a strong lieutenant or two (your TT specialists preferably) and a sprinter to bridge to it. You bridge at the point when the gap is far enough to discourage a mass pack chase, but close enough to be within reach by a strong 2 or 3-man bridge. How this works: these two (or 3) drift to the open side of the field on a straightaway with the sprinter on their wheel, then when nobody's looking the sprinter "switches" across the road in a hard attack, taking his lieutenant(s) with him and creating enough of a gap to discourage any "klingons" from tagging along and towing the whole field up. The reason you have to practice this is that your lieutenant(s) also must have enough jump to keep from getting gapped off the sprinter and/or towing the entire field along as well.

As soon as the gap is established, the lieutenant(s) take over and start the bridge, as typically they will be able to take longer, stronger pulls than the sprinter. A team time trial ensues until they catch the breakaway. The rest of the field will chase like maniacs at seeing 2 or 3 guys from the same team trying to bridge, so be prepared to block effectively when this happens.

Blocking: Blocking is often misconstrued as actively slowing down the field. While this approach generally works in the 3s and 4s, sometimes a strong opposing team won't have it, and you'll have to actively work riding tempo at the front, fast enough to keep anyone from coming around, but slow enough not to gain time on the break with your guy(s) in it. Additionally, if you're butting heads with another strong team, let them do all the bridge attempts with the understanding that any attempt they make to bridge to your guys in the break will have a "monitor" from your team sitting on the back of it with a big grin on his face doing no work. If there's a dangerous sprinter in this bridge attempt, then your monitor *does* pull through, but soft-pedals on the front, takes off-tempo pulls, leaves gaps in the line, anything to bollix up the chase.
OH, that's good!!! ....... nmJohnG
May 20, 2002 9:33 PM
re: Criterium Team TacticsWoof
May 20, 2002 11:16 AM
have people chase everything down that doesn't have your strong teammates in it or is too big and a chance for your rider is slim. for blocking, keep moving up as many people as possible, force the slower pace in corners. attack right after the break is caught. Lead out, pull off into the path of other riders. Communication is key, radios are good, but other teams on the same frequency is bad.

coach carl has some good adviceMr Good
May 20, 2002 3:54 PM
coach carl has some good advice about team tactics to get you thinking: