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Motorator
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I've raced independently until this year when I finally got on a team with others in my category. My first race this year (crit) was last weekend, and there were three of us.
One of the guys said he'd lead me out at the end, but come final lap, he was not to be found on my radar screen. After the race he told me he was on my tail with a couple of laps to go -- oh, I thought, where the hell then did you go?

As this team thing is new to me, can somebody tell me what each of us should have done to set up for the final sprint? If I'm the designated sprinter, what things should I do and when should they be done to make it happen? And, what should the lead outs be doing in the last few laps to prepare for things to happen?
 

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Starliner said:
I've raced independently until this year when I finally got on a team with others in my category. My first race this year (crit) was last weekend, and there were three of us.
One of the guys said he'd lead me out at the end, but come final lap, he was not to be found on my radar screen. After the race he told me he was on my tail with a couple of laps to go -- oh, I thought, where the hell then did you go?

As this team thing is new to me, can somebody tell me what each of us should have done to set up for the final sprint? If I'm the designated sprinter, what things should I do and when should they be done to make it happen? And, what should the lead outs be doing in the last few laps to prepare for things to happen?
You have ridden with me so you know that I am a good leadout rider. There are a couple of different ways to do it. One is to have the leadout guy in the front ten riders and work your way onto his wheel before the final sprint. If your guy goes, you are committed and have to go with him if it is a pack sprint. If you are in a small group and he goes, if you cannot get on his wheel immediately, get on the wheel of the guy chasing him. Let him lead you out while he is chasing down your guy. The chaser has to work harder than the guy with the gap and you will be set up to blow by him before the finish. If you are in a really small group of 3 or 4 riders consisting of you, your teamate, and one or two other guys, nothing is worst than finishing third because the other guys camped out on your wheel. The way to win this situation is to send your leadout guy early and make the other two chase. Don't contribute to the chase but sit and wait to jump the other guys when they catch your leadout guy. If they don't catch him, he wins and you are set up to win the sprint for second. Not a bad team finish. The last one is my favorite. In a short lap crit (<1Km), send a teamate off of the front with 5-6 laps to go. The pack may not immediately chase since they are thinking of positioning themselves. Eventually they will chase and you need to be in the top five riders but not contributing. When they catch your guy, the reaction of the pack will be to relax and start thinking about the finish. When they relax and slow, the pack will spread out across the road. This is when you attack. If you have timed it right, they will not organize in time to catch you and will start thinking about second place. Too much info? Do any interesting engraving lately?
 

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If you have 2-3 guys to lead you out, you can pretty much pretend it's the end of a tour stage or something. Get everyone on the front, do their 1 minute of work, pull off and leave the last 2-300 meters for you.

If you have one guy who is your leadout, take a different strategy. Sit on his wheel for the last 2-3 laps. Have him bridge every gap, take you around other guys to get you in position. Your nose should never be in the wind if he does this right. At some point he should try and 'go' with you on his wheel. This could be the start of the sprint, or a reaction to someone else's jump. Good luck!

Silas
 

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if its a little uphill finish have him go to the front with you on his wheel. Pull med/strong and have him jump early, but not too early. Earlier then a lead out. allow a gap to form, It might catch other leadout guys off guard. Keep looking back but apear tired. when someone bridges, you've got your leadout man. If everyone balks, your guy earns a nice breakaway win. But don't get caught snoozing. you've got to see your competitors picking up the pace or you'll never catch their wheel.
 

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Two things...

First, if your teammates can't get to the front and drive the pace, it doesn't matter.

Second, if I bury myself at 30+ for an enitre lap, or 34+ for the last pull to the sprint, you damn well better win.

In anything other than P-1-2 races, there are rarely leadouts. It's usually a drag race to the line.
 

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The ultimate purpose of a lead out is to dump you in the lead with 150-200m to go in a flat sprint. Ideally, the pack is strung out and there should only be several riders within striking range to challenge the sprinter. A good sprinter is able to accelerate to the line from that distance and should be able to hold off the other with the 1+ bike length lead.

A traditional lead out has several components and should ideally have more than 1 rider in the "train". One main purpose of lead outs is to keep the sprinter sheltered and to keep breakaways from succeeding. This requires the leadout rider to ride at a fast pace to discourage attacks and to string out the peloton. It should not be so fast as to shell the sprinter. Stringing out the peloton also keeps the sprinter from being boxed in, helps prevent crashes, and makes it very difficult for your opponents to move up. The best riders for this role are strong riders who can ride fast for a long time but they might not have the best sprint or short duration speed.

As the race gets close to the finish, the actual "leadout sprint" is ideally conducted by a good sprinter who will deliver you to about 150-200m from the finish. This rider should engage from around 1000m to 400m (the distance depending on the strength of the rider, course, and race conditions) from the finish in what is pretty close to a full on sprint. One of the worst things a lead out can do is to jump too early or too late. If the leadout goes too late, you will probably get enveloped from behind and get boxed in. If the lead out goes too early and dies, it will leave you hitting the front too far from the line. Beating other good sprinters from the front at 400m out is pretty much impossible unless you have a name like Cipollini.

If you look at the pro teams, a lead out train will consist of 4+ riders and the train will start at a distance determined by the number of riders available. As the finish approaches, the lead out gets faster and faster and riders will ride at the front and peel off completely spent. If done well, the lead out train keeps other teams from organizing their own train and is perfectly timed so that the sprinter is given an arm chair ride to the finish. Sometimes there's even a "sweeper", a rider who is assigned to sit on the wheel of the sprinter and keep other sprinters from coming off his wheel. In that way, the other riders would then have to make up a 2 bike length lead once the sprint is engaged. In professional racing, the best counter to a lead out train is a competing train. In the US, I would say the best lead out trains were executed by Healthnet and Colavita. In Europe, it was hands down Fasso Bortolo.

If you only have one team mate, I would say that his job is to keep you out of the wind and to move you up close to the front before the finish. He should do all the dirty work of chasing down the attacks and perhaps he might me able to jump before the finish and drag you to within striking range of the finish line. The key is to communicate well before the race and also during the finale. Organized team work is really difficult in a sprint: sometimes you just have to be willing to abandon your plans and go from wheel to wheel. Of course, it's the small things that can sometimes make a difference. Even if you can't get a lead out to work properly, a team mate can let you in near the front if you're dropping back, or perhaps they can attack if you are boxed in so that the reaction can free up space for you to break free. Of course there's nothing like shouting "go, go, go!" and then having your team mate screaming into the last corner of a crit with you on the wheel...
 

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merckx56 said:
Two things...

First, if your teammates can't get to the front and drive the pace, it doesn't matter.

Second, if I bury myself at 30+ for an enitre lap, or 34+ for the last pull to the sprint, you damn well better win.

In anything other than P-1-2 races, there are rarely leadouts. It's usually a drag race to the line.
Ours is one of the few teams in our district who actually plan for and employ successful leadouts in the 3/4s. You need a handful of the strongest riders in the race to make this happen as well as an agreement that the leadout folks will not also be racing for themselves in addition to their duties. The leadout people need to be going at 95% and then pull off, and not just hard enough to pull in front and then reintegrate to work on their own placing for 25th place. This is the mistake that most Cat4s make. I also hear tons of teams talking really big before a race and planning their Fassa-style pro leadout. Inevitably, these almost always crumble. If you can't get at least 3 guys who are fit enough to not only be at the front of the race for the last lap of the crit, but also be right on the front and pulling hard enough so that other riders don't want to pull around then don't even bother planning it because it won't happen.

An easier way to think about leadouts in the 4s is just to agree that if you have a teammate up front at the end of the race and the pace all of a sudden slows then one rider will drill it on the front just to prevent the swarm and allow the other rider to maintain position in the top 6 places before the actual sprint.
 

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Leadout shmeadout

The Human G-Nome said:
Ours is one of the few teams in our district who actually plan for and employ successful leadouts in the 3/4s. You need a handful of the strongest riders in the race to make this happen as well as an agreement that the leadout folks will not also be racing for themselves in addition to their duties. The leadout people need to be going at 95% and then pull off, and not just hard enough to pull in front and then reintegrate to work on their own placing for 25th place. This is the mistake that most Cat4s make. I also hear tons of teams talking really big before a race and planning their Fassa-style pro leadout. Inevitably, these almost always crumble. If you can't get at least 3 guys who are fit enough to not only be at the front of the race for the last lap of the crit, but also be right on the front and pulling hard enough so that other riders don't want to pull around then don't even bother planning it because it won't happen.

An easier way to think about leadouts in the 4s is just to agree that if you have a teammate up front at the end of the race and the pace all of a sudden slows then one rider will drill it on the front just to prevent the swarm and allow the other rider to maintain position in the top 6 places before the actual sprint.
Agree. The concept of the leadout in cat 4 and pretty much most cat 3 racing is pretty much a fantasy. IME, in cat 1/2 amateur racing it rarely happens in true pro leadout style. Any team that has enough strong guys to totally drill the pace to prevent any other attacks would have to be a team full of sandbaggers! And the comment about guys "leading out" and then trying to sprint for 20th is spot-on. A true leadout is a full-on sacrifice of the leadout riders' results. A few years ago I raced on a large/strong team in cat 1/2, with two very good sprinters, maybe the two best in the region. In races where it looked as though a group sprint would happen, we would have one rider play the wildcard and attack late. Then we would have a 3 rider leadout of our sprinter. I was the early guy and might start with 2 km to go and hold it for 750-1000 m, then another guy for maybe 500-750 m and then the final guy for 200-300 m (he was also a top regional sprinter), then the sprinter. I usually rolled across the line long after the sprint happened. Once my pull was done Iit was little ring.

For the original poster, if you have one teammate who is going to "lead you out" make sure you use him well. If you have a strong sprint, probably the best thing your teammate can do to help you is to attack HARD within the 1 km to go and keep the pack from swarming. Winning a cat 3 or 4 sprint is much easier when the sprint doesn't have a surge/swarm.
 

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Eric_H said:
For the original poster, if you have one teammate who is going to "lead you out" make sure you use him well. If you have a strong sprint, probably the best thing your teammate can do to help you is to attack HARD within the 1 km to go and keep the pack from swarming. Winning a cat 3 or 4 sprint is much easier when the sprint doesn't have a surge/swarm.
That is usually the way it happens. Your teamate strings out the pack and you get yourself into position to have 100-150 meters of clear path when you break out of a draft. The first race I ever won was when I was the late attacker and the chasers piled into each other trying to get on one guys wheel. When I heard the sound of scraping metal behind me and didn't know where my teamate was, I pushed even harder. My teamate sat up for 2nd about 20 feet behind me.
 

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Sounds like he wasn't too strong of a rider or was winded. You were somehow working
for him.

This book might help you out:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/19...f=pd_bbs_1/102-6438296-4442518?_encoding=UTF8





Starliner said:
I've raced independently until this year when I finally got on a team with others in my category. My first race this year (crit) was last weekend, and there were three of us.
One of the guys said he'd lead me out at the end, but come final lap, he was not to be found on my radar screen. After the race he told me he was on my tail with a couple of laps to go -- oh, I thought, where the hell then did you go?

As this team thing is new to me, can somebody tell me what each of us should have done to set up for the final sprint? If I'm the designated sprinter, what things should I do and when should they be done to make it happen? And, what should the lead outs be doing in the last few laps to prepare for things to happen?
 

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This is all great if your teammate makes it...

But what if your teammates just cannot keep up (or crashes,etc) in the last 2k or so, and you are left without your leadout strategy? That guy that you relied on is now gone, but you are still feeling locked and loaded for the sprint. I guess we'll say the weather and wind is fine on a crit circuit of under 1.6km.

Is there a way to take advantage of the other riders (assume there are no other leadout trains and everyone is on a different team) that are setting up for the sprint?

Or another possible scenario is that there is a leadout man and a sprint on another team, and you think you can beat their system if you just work the tactics correctly. So, the other question is, what kind of riding would you do from here on in to beat these plotting sprinters?
 

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Spinyclaw said:
But what if your teammates just cannot keep up (or crashes,etc) in the last 2k or so, and you are left without your leadout strategy? That guy that you relied on is now gone, but you are still feeling locked and loaded for the sprint. I guess we'll say the weather and wind is fine on a crit circuit of under 1.6km.

Is there a way to take advantage of the other riders (assume there are no other leadout trains and everyone is on a different team) that are setting up for the sprint?

Or another possible scenario is that there is a leadout man and a sprint on another team, and you think you can beat their system if you just work the tactics correctly. So, the other question is, what kind of riding would you do from here on in to beat these plotting sprinters?
This is a good question, but with a pretty obvious answer. You can either take your chances in the sprint, by following the wheels until the last few hundred meters, or you can take a flyer with 1-2k to go.

If you're sprinting, you want to stay in good position, probably right behind many of the other riders. Not too far back though, as you want space to jump.

If you're not a good sprinter, go for it with 1 or 2 k to go. If you're feeling ballsy, attack into a corner. If you're not that much of a daredevil, wait for a subtle slowing of the pack when a bunch of guys at the front decide not to use their energy, looking around for someone else to do the work. That's your cue to attack with all your power. Don't look back for at least the first 30 seconds. If you get a gap, keep at it, and you'll have a chance. If there's no gap, you may as well coast in.

Silas
 

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I found a perfect video of link of what we are all talking about....... albeit not in human form though.


http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9011769364493629410&q=cycling+sprint


You see that gorgeous leadout train by the white and blue team of 4 guys? They crush the green (maybe agricole) at 0:08 seconds in, and keep drilling the pace. Then the 3 guys going at 95% finally drop out, and it is the 4th guy that was kept out of the wind that pulls to a full bike length victory.


So back to my question.....

"Or another possible scenario is that there is a leadout man and a sprint on another team, and you think you can beat their system if you just work the tactics correctly. So, the other question is, what kind of riding would you do from here on in to beat these plotting sprinters? "

Could that FdJ rider won the sprint with better planning since the leadout train didn't have a Sweeper that protected the sprinter's back wheel? Or maybe the Lotto rider could have done something?

Hopefully this video help visualize for you folks, it sure did for me.
 
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