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race strategies wanted(16 posts)

race strategies wanteddave11
Apr 17, 2003 9:10 AM
I ride for a local team that has only been around a couple years. It has developed from a small group of Cat5 riders to a large, very strong group of 3's and 4's. Last year we were in great shape, and are even better this year, but we have struggled to win races that we should be winning.
I believe our main problem is a lack of effective strategy. We don't have an experienced coach (have tried to find one), so it's somewhat like the blind leading the blind. Some of the team members have some specific ideas of strategy which we've tried, mostly ineffectively. I would like to explore some new strategies and am wondering if there are any books, websites, etc. out there that will help us out. Some of the strategies we use are from watching other races but I don't think that is appropriate. What works for Lance won't necessarily help in a CAT-4 race.

Any info you have would be appreciated!
re: race strategies wantedclimbo
Apr 17, 2003 9:24 AM
that's a hard one, we should ALL be winning more races :) I find strategy to be effective about 10% of the time, the rest is luck. Our team also has startegy sometimes but in the end, it's down to luck and the other 90 riders out there doing what you want/expect. Do you race with more experienced riders? I'd watch them or talk with them, maybe get someone else on your team with more leadership and experience. Specifically why aren't you winning races you think you should?
re: race strategies wanteddave11
Apr 17, 2003 10:13 AM
we have the physically strongest team, win time trials or head to head sprints but get "outsmarted" a lot of the time. Need more strategy tools in our toolbox.

some of our stronger riders tend to break/attack too early and burn out early so they can't assist the strongest riders at the finish.
re: race strategies wantedclimbo
Apr 17, 2003 11:14 AM
how about you only go with attacks from other riders, sit in and see what happens. Keep all other riders in the pack. If the break stays away, decide if you should bridge up with a sprinter before it's too late, or, wait for them to be caught and then go with the next attack and so on. If you have good sprinters as you say, you should be able to win out of a smaller break or the pack sprint, no? Maybe it just a lot of practice.
re: race strategies wantedJohn70
Apr 17, 2003 9:53 AM
I feel for you Dave. I was on a team that felt that the only "stategy" was the break and block. Breakaway early and often and block with the riders still in the pack. We have evolved from that by better using the stongest team members to control the breaks (working for or against depending on the strength of it) or setting up the designated sprinter for the finish. Overcoming resistance to change might be tougher than winning though...
re: race strategies wanteddave11
Apr 17, 2003 10:16 AM
we have a similar problem with an oversimplified, overused strategy attack/block. I am just trying to figure out some other techniques that we can try. The problem is the people on the team pushing these strategies think they are a lot more effective thatn they really are.
re: race strategies wantedFreewheelers
Apr 17, 2003 10:47 AM
You sound like one of my teammates at a team meeting last week. We are stocked with super strong Cat 3s and Cat 4s, but sometimes just can't put it all together. That's life I guess. Get on a Cat 1/2 team...Probably wouldn't have that problem there. Of course, practice makes perfect.
Depends on a lot,TJeanloz
Apr 17, 2003 11:10 AM
A lot depends on how strong the team is, comparatively; and how tough the courses are. For longer races, I'd say get your whole team to the front at the beginning, go fast, and see how many people you can shell right off the back in the first 5 miles -- in Cat3 and 4 (especially), you tend to be able to knock out a good portion of the field early. Then, if you are the biggest and strongest team, just sit near the front and cover whatever moves are made, wait for the field sprint and win.
Good points...dave11
Apr 17, 2003 12:29 PM
that is a pretty simple strategy that I guess we haven't really tried. Out attempts at pushing the pace have typically been to send out a rider or two to draw others out, rather than using the whole team to bring up the pace together.

The problem is that in CAT4 the peleton typically doesn't buy this as a real threat, and they sit back and wait for the break to get pulled in.

I don't necessarily agree with the strategy that we've been using, but it has more or less been mandated as the "team approach", which I am trying to change, or at least improve.
If you're racin' cat 4No_sprint
Apr 17, 2003 12:57 PM
Fitness will take it over strategy nearly every single time. The range of experience in the 4s is wide. You've got lifers, solid bad 5s, ex 2s gettin' back in it, national class triathletes, naturally gifted racers who'll be 2s by the end of the season, older guys on strict Friel programs, etc.

Next, some courses lend themselves well to strategy, some don't. Make sure you're in the game at the proper time and proper place, then if you've got the fitness, you'll be in the hunt.

Around here, racin' 4s is very similar to racin' 5s. The good riders are a bit better and the bad aren't quite as bad. Cornering skills are still weak.
Follow on...TJeanloz
Apr 17, 2003 2:05 PM
As a follow up to my original statement, if your team's fitness is good enough, pick the spot on the course where drafting gives the least advantage (a long climb, a strong crosswind) and just abuse the people behind you. You'll find that a lot of Cat 4's, and even 3's, can't hang with a hard pace. I found that you could pretty easily knock a 100 person field in half by blistering the pace. The smaller the field, the smaller the opportunity for the remaining riders to rest -- but this tactic is reliant on your guys really being the strongest.

The break approach almost never works in Cat 4 for two reasons: (1) the field knows it will never work, and everybody just sort of waits for it to fizzle. and (2) Cat 4 riders just aren't accustomed to riding in breaks -- generally, they over-think and don't ride hard enough (it's all about "we have four teammates, and two guys not on the team here, what would Mapei do?"). I've been the victim of that scenario more than once...
Do you really have the strongest riders then?Spunout
Apr 17, 2003 11:11 AM
Somebody has to sacrifice. Watch the classics videos from the late 90s, and be Mapei. Okay, maybe that pushes it.

You guys have to be able to read a race, and change plans in the middle. Have a plan B and C ready when A fails. Or, cover breaks, make breaks, and have a sprinter in reserve (Mapei tactics).
physically, i think sodave11
Apr 17, 2003 12:23 PM
but as far as reading the race, we are definitely lacking. So I guess we are not the strongest overall riders, or we'd be winning, right? We are definitely trying to learn some new tactics and are looking for any help.

You make a very good point about having plans and backup plans to cover them. We don't do a good enough job of that. When plan A doesn't work, we haven't had much to fall back on.
Take turns following breaksKerry
Apr 17, 2003 5:15 PM
If there are breaks, just make sure you get one strong rider in each one. Once your rider is in the break, he doesn't work so they have something left for the sprint, or works just enough to keep the break away but still keeps something in reserve. This way, if the race comes down to a small group sprint, you're in with a chance. If it all comes together at the end, none of your guys have worked so hard as to have nothing left. Given the power of the draft, going to the front and pulling hard will shed weaker riders, but it won't shed the ones you're worried about. It will just wear out your team and keep other strong riders in the front group and relatively rested. It's pretty hard to make a break work when you have several riders in the race, because everyone recognizes what's going on and brings it back.
Take turns following breakstdflance
Apr 22, 2003 5:17 PM
For riders that don't have very good endurace, but can sprint well, this is a good tactic.But if you're fit and you don't contribute to the break then you don't deserve to be there. A Breakaway sprint finish won't be the as fast as a field sprint because everyone has been working hard too.

As far as team tactics, watch pro race videos. Mapei and domo 1-2-3's are the best to watch. Also, amstel gold is good to learn from and the 1996 geht-whevelgem.

In cat 4 races that are under 30 miles, it's most probably coming down to a field sprint. There is no point, that I see, in being at the fron at all for the first half of it if you're planning on winning. It's always best to have teammates covering attacks, but not in the first mile. How many cat 4's can ride 40k in under an hour? Even with two people it's hard.
team building exercises...Spunout
Apr 18, 2003 4:04 AM
you guys may laugh; I'm not an HR director or anything.

Spend some time together watching race videos, at the beach, whatever. Learn to think like a team, and sacrifice when needed. If you don't believe in your teammate, you aren't going to go all out for him/her. And they won't for you.