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Hey all,

I've started racing this year and seem able to start with the bunch no problem at all on circuit races so far - I've not been dropped at all in 4 races.

Where I seem to struggle is the crunch time with a lap or two to go, the burst of acceleration that happens as the final move is made.

My first race at Stourport I was slow on the acceleration after getting on the front a lap or two early, got myself back up the bunch to about 5th wheel into the final hairpin and then finished back in 13th. Second race in Leamington was scuppered by a big crash two corners from the finish, third race the same day, a group of 9 went off the front and I sprinted in for 11th (so annoying!). Last Saturday in Solihull I ended up dragging the field round from the 5 laps to go mark to 1.5 laps to go and finished in the bunch about 20th with no sprint left.

I feel like I'm on the edge of a decent result as I'm never clinging on for dear life and feel quite comfortable during races but there's clearly a piece of tactical know-how that I'm missing out on at the death.

Are there any tips from the more experienced guys as to how I can finish races off better?

Thanks!

13 comments

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mtbtomo [202 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm in a similar position - trying to get a result in some crits, but this will have to follow staying with the bunch on a regular basis first.

I suffer on courses with hairpin bends where every lap there's a crazy mad acceleration and the field strings out. On a steady course at the weekend I was well in the bunch at the end.

It sounds like another variation of needing to improve your positioning on the last lap, and not before it? Being on the front, unless you're someone like Cancellara, is a wearing place to be.

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David Arthur @d... [691 posts] 2 years ago
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"Last Saturday in Solihull I ended up dragging the field round from the 5 laps to go mark to 1.5 laps to go and finished in the bunch about 20th with no sprint left."

Don't do that. If you want to win the sprint, you can't be pulling the bunch along. It's all about positioning, being at, but not on the front, so you can pounce when you get close to the line. You need to think about the last 100-200m of the sprint, that's the crucial part

Best thing is to just keep trying. Practice makes perfect. Sounds like you're strong so you're bound to get the win you crave soon enough. There's a lot of luck involved in racing, but being smart and having some tactical nous is essential too. You first need to outsmart everyone else

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glynr36 [637 posts] 2 years ago
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Bit of a side not, but these are all local to me and I'm looking to get into racing, got any links for them? Either on BC or club sites.

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mtm_01 [196 posts] 2 years ago
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Easiest way to see all of them is to go here - https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events and put your postcode in on the left hand side, Road in Type of Event and 4th in Filter by Rider Category to get rid of the Sky Rides/Sportives.

There's a load I've got noted down happening in Solihull/Stourport-on-Severn/Sutton Coldfield. Depending which side of Birmingham you're on Shrewsbury/Mallory Park are also decent options. There's pretty much two a week in this area for the next 6 weeks.

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SamShaw [265 posts] 2 years ago
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If you ride with a club or other racers, the last few miles of a club ride or chaingang, building up to the sprint for the 30's (or whatever marker you use) is a good way to learn some tips on how to get yourself into a good position for the finish of a race. It's also good practice physically as it'll give you some race intensity efforts and let you know how to cope with the final sprint after being on the rivet for a while.

Not that I'm saying that's easy, it's great in theory but I've managed to transfer any of that to my racing. It is fun though!  4

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mtm_01 [196 posts] 2 years ago
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I was trying to move up towards the end and suddenly found myself there - decided on some logic of blasting round at the front, dropping a couple and I'd be able to at least get top 10. If I'd started 1-2 laps later I'd probably have managed it.

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SamShaw [265 posts] 2 years ago
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The only person I've seen solo escape in a crit is a really good TT rider I know who should've moved up categories years ago (but he's a triathlete, so was never really bothered). You need a really big engine to be able to ride away from 40 other riders on a flat course though, otherwise everyone sits in, saving legs for the sprint.

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Jimmy Ray Will [470 posts] 2 years ago
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Ah.... 4th cat racing. So much harder to do anything in a 4th cat race as everyone is basically sat in two camps... camp A are the people trying to chip away off the front but are often more preoccupied with catching up with someone else that has tried to chip away at the front or not burning too many matches in any one move... in summary, these people are tripping over themselves and doing nothing selective...

Camp B are the ones sitting in, following the wheels, and waiting for the near inevitable sprint.

IMO there are two things to remember when road racing...

1. when you attack mean it... you need to hurt if you are ever going to get away... often the only difference between a 2nd and 1st cat is the ability and willingness to jump into, and then crawl back out of the hurt locker. Best learn that skill from day one.

2. Time your attacks so that they have maximum effect. Either attack in the gutter when there is a cross wind, make sure you attack exiting a corner (especially if this is turning into a tail wind section), or make sure your attack is the third or later in a succession of moves... the first attack never works!

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mooleur [537 posts] 2 years ago
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Try & get in some serious pain intervals (20/40's, pyramids etc) to get your top end & recovery functioning well.

As others have said, if you want to sprint, don't work for anyone, just sit in and keep holding your position in the top 10/15 until it really matters, it's so easy to get used to timetrialling your way round either off the back or for everyone else on the front, this is great for strength but your body needs to learn to attack/recover over and over again. Recovering well from efforts & attacks to be able to stay fresh enough for the right moment.

If you've a local chaingang get on that as well as through and off really helps with that sort of fitness.

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russyparkin [570 posts] 2 years ago
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sit in and go solo on two laps to go, all out effort dont look back.

i did this which got me 2nd place on a cat 4 and i had points already so went to cat 3.

next race entered the e/1/2/3 and went about 200m before the final bell, everyone else let me go as probably assumed i would blow up buti had been training on the turbo/local tt route to basically be able to hold out a 2-3min all out pain effort

work on the turbo and try and high intensity intervals, stay in zone 4-5 and keep working up intervals so start at 10 sec blasts move up as laong as you can over a 30 minute period.

ignore the pain though, just bury yourself on those last 1-2 laps you will always have more!

i went from cat 4 to being 8 points from cat 2 last year. i stopped racing before the season was done as i didnt want to go to cat2 in one season as i know a few who have done it but they found cat 2 took the fun away as it was just big boys in every race

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DylanChurchill [13 posts] 2 years ago
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Might be able to help you here. Firstly I was at that race in leamington finished one place after you in the sprint for 10/11/12 but got 4th in the first race. I moved up to 3rd cat on Tuesday after attacking with a K to go at Mallory park. On the last lap everyone slows down a bit and if you work on TT efforts then it's easy to get away(remind you of a certain classic finish?). Also look for who is strong in the race then maybe follow them in the sprint and try come around when they fade. A session which I have found really usefull is 20x 20s sprints 40s rest 10 Minnie spin then 20x30s sprint with 30s rest don't have to be high watts but u must keep getting the same watts everry rep. This helped me go from a meesly 868 max watts at the begging o the season to 1137 max watts at 54kg body weight. High intensity is key to crit racing. Mallory park is a good place to race aswell they vary up the course maybe a hill maybe a lot of corners so one day the course will suit you.

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mtm_01 [196 posts] 2 years ago
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Small world! I ended up at the very front too early again in that first race and think it's this positioning at crunch time that's making the rest of the event irrelevant.
I was tempted by the Mallory race this week but went to Solihull instead which was its own learning experience racing with 2nd Cats. Will end up at Mallory in about a month's time.
It'll be Stourport the next couple of weeks, I don't mind the hairpins and sprints there at all, if anything it'll help thin out the bunch too.

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mtbtomo [202 posts] 2 years ago
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How are you guys recovering? The day after a crit or chaingang I feel absolutely done in and can't be bothered to ride at all.