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Last night in a circuit race, after 90% of the race being mass confusion and nobody really leading the pack - a team of 6 got to the front and it was pretty clear their intention and who their sprinter was. I stuck with the group and managed to beat all but their protected sprinter - but it got me wondering if there was a way to thwart such an attack if you recognize it in time.
Unfortunately, I don't have many teammates out there with me to launch much of an effective counter attack (only 1 teammate, actually)... I thought maybe with 3 of us we could get one guy out front at the sprint and have 2 guys sit on either side of their sprinter - not sure how well it would work though and regardless, I'm one man down.
So short of borrowing Cavendish's legs, does anybody have a decent "David and Goliath" technique they've used themselves or seen deployed? It's a bit frustrating when you feel that you've got the ability to beat the individual competitor and realize it's very difficult to beat a whole team.
Or you could try to anticipate the side on which his lead out will peel off, and put your teammate on the other side to box him in a little. But I'm not sure to what extent this is allowed. Anyway your fella would need to be pretty strong to be there when it's make or break, probably strong enough to contest the sprint on his own ...
Even pro's make wrong decision, go too soon and fade away or leave it for too late to pass competition.
Scott Scale 35 26"
Scott Spark LTD 29" M8000
@CerveloBert - you and me both
@wassertreter - my teammate and I are fortunately able to both contest the sprints pretty well. If I've got any skill it's probably that and that alone
@Omiar - you nailed what's been my biggest adversary and main focus lately in course/crit races - timing. I typically sprint a bit longer and fortunately am able to sustain a pretty strong speed even once I taper off but it's not ideal. Last night I felt much more confident, relaxed, and aware when we came down to the final sprint. I waited a bit longer than the protected sprinter, who jumped pretty early, and pulled him back in quite a bit by the finish - not being right on his wheel from the beginning didn't do me any favors though.
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Imaking20 wrote:my biggest adversary and main focus lately in course/crit races - timing. I typically sprint a bit longer and fortunately am able to sustain a pretty strong speed even once I taper off but it's not ideal. Last night I felt much more confident, relaxed, and aware when we came down to the final sprint. I waited a bit longer than the protected sprinter, who jumped pretty early, and pulled him back in quite a bit by the finish - not being right on his wheel from the beginning didn't do me any favors though.
LeePaton wrote:For example watch Guardini beat Cav in the Giro this year, Just jump a little early and hope for the best.
Stay on the sprinter's wheel during the lead out... just before you anticipate they will kick, you kick suddenly to the person's side that you think they will kick out to, thereby blocking them just a smidgeon during your kick. That slight pause in that other sprinter's kick will be enough to give you a gap on that sprinter while they momentarily restart their kick, person will be most likely unable to hop onto your wheel.... then proceed to your strengths. You'll need some luck, too.
How to do that:
Before your next race:
Get some friends and do some bumping drills, as well as what my coach in high school called boxing drills: For bumping, you just ride back and forth at various speeds across a field leaning on each other so you can get more comfortable with accidental (or intentional I suppose) contact in the pack.
Next, find some flat ground in the field and mark out a box using water bottles or something. It shouldn't be more than 20x30 ft or so. Now ride around inside the box with your friends. The goal is to be the last one to ride out of the box or put a foot down. If you do either of those, you're out. If you touch another rider, you're both out. As more people get knocked out, decrease the size of the box. The key is to learn how to control the other rider without touching him. Tip: it only works if you're slightly ahead of the other rider.
During the race:
Using what you learned in the bumping/boxing drills, try to force the guy off his leadout. Obviously you can't touch him, but at the end of the day whoever is ahead of the other will win unless you chicken out and/or he's completely fearless. In all likelihood, his leadout guy probably won't be looking over his shoulder until he's about to pull off but by then you're so close to the line that you can go for it.
Before I stopped racing I was usually the leadout guy, so if the sprinter didn't make it to the finish I'd just steal someone else's leadout and go for it.
Note: This is very very very dangerous. Don't try this unless you've had a lot of practice and are at least a cat 4.
Other note: If the other guy is really cranky he might protest to the race official. That said I've never been disqualified for it.
Remember: It's very important that you avoid touching the other guy. If you touch him it's illegal. If you don't you're just playing chicken at 30-40 mph.
It is very difficult to counter this when you are riding by yourself, as everyone has said the ideal thing to do is sit on the sprinters wheel and use their teamwork to your benefit...however that's also what every other 'single' rider in the race is thinking as well, and you use up a lot of energy trying to get and maintain position before the sprint even starts.
The couple of times I've been succesful in beating the leadout train is when I've had a friend 'escort' me up to the front of the bunch during the last km and protect me from the wind, then drop me off right next to the sprinter in the leadout train just before the final sprint/kick to the line starts. If you both get the timing right you will latch on to the right wheel just as he starts his sprint, and you can accelerate with him then come around him in the last 50m.
No two sprints will ever be the same unless this team is completely dominant and drive it so hard that it is impossible to move forward, but the best tactic I have found is to try hover on the outskirts of the pack (usually in a triangle behind the leadout) so you have room to kick from there. I don't watch the protected guy, I watch the guy in front of him, so I have plenty of time to anticipate the sprint.
Unless you have massive amounts of acceleration, you will need to be already going when that protected rider starts his sprint
Some people take this too seriously.
I like the cut-off technique though, I'll definitely give it a shot in the next week or so!
@mvogt46: You're definitely right about every 'single' rider trying to get right on a team formation. I'll do what I can to try and get closer - I've been making progress.
@Murphs: getting blocked like you mention has been a major pain for me quite a few times so far. I really try to focus on having a good opening now as it's a bummer to get blocked for that split second.
I wouldn't say I have "massive" amounts of acceleration but against the 2 biggest teams I face regularly I haven't had one of their guys I couldn't pull back in - regardless of when either of us jumped. My shortcoming has just been the distance between myself and them before the kick - this time was no exception but at least I was closer from the start.
Fantastic advice, guys! This is the kind of stuff I was hoping for!
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