racing tactics

The Card Up Your Sleeve, Part II

In Part 1 of The Card Up Your Sleeve, I wrote about the inevitability of sprint finishes in most Category 3, 4, and 5 races. Regardless of your natural ability, field sprinting is a mandatory skill to acquire if you plan on moving up through the categories. I mentioned two scenarios: when to wait for the sprint if field sprinting is your talent, and how to approach a field sprint if it's not. Here in Part 2, I'll discuss the latter in detail, and outline some approaches useful for a rider in any category.

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The Card Up Your Sleeve, Part I

For all road racers trying to upgrade from the lower categories, there's one skill that takes precedence above all others: field sprinting. Outside of pro/1/2 races, the dynamic tends to be to such that everyone is willing to chase down attacks, but no one is willing to counter-attack or work with a break they bridge up to. It's a vicious cycle; most races end in field sprints so no one wants to attack or counter-attack for fear of being tired for the field sprint, thus, the race always ends in a field sprint.

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Where It All Starts: Dialing In Your 'Cross Start Technique and Training

Cyclocross is unique from most other cycling disciplines in that the field sprint comes at the start of the race rather than at the finish; you get your desert before dinner, as it were. Where you're staged on the line, the time it takes you to get into the pedals, the gear you choose, and in what position you make it to the first corner, transition, or obstacle can impact your entire race. You may find yourself in the lead group with no extra effort, or you may spend the day stuck behind traffic or crashes, battling to get up to the group you belong based on fitness.

The Lanterne Rouge

I recently headed out west with my new team to compete in two early season California stage races. For many riders, these races are the peak of their season and they're at the peak of their form, coming off a training base that began in November, perhaps, and included races like the Tour of Malaysia. For others, particularly riders from colder climates or with later-season goals, these races are primarily training, and an opportunity to escape a long winter.

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