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It's all ball bearings
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So I race with this one guy named Joe Schmoe. This is his second season of racing and he has catted up to a 4 after having finished around a dozen races last season. So far, he has always finished with the main peloton (most races have had combined cat 4/5)…but never has gotten away from the pack or even contended in a finish line sprint. He aspires to cat up to a 3 sometime in his lifetime, so he’s going to have to start making some more aggressive moves in this season’s races.

Despite having the experience of ~dozen races, and having watched professional cycling on TV for the past few years, he still really has next to no sense of race tactics and energy budgeting during races.

So let’s say Joe Schmoe is pretty strong in the hills, but is a horrible time-trialist in flats (avg less than 24 mph for a flat 40K TT), and is an equally horrible sprinter (top sprint is 32-33 mph). Joe mainly races in a local series in the cat 4/5 group. The local series has two types of races: sometimes it’s a flat circuit course for about an hour, sometimes it’s a hilly circuit course for about an hour. The 4/5 peloton usually finishes with an avg speed of 24 mph on the flat course, and 22.5 mph on the hilly course. What is Joe to do to get away from the pack in either of these types of races?

His low sprint speed isn’t going to help him win any races, so he’s gonna have to depend on some luck with getting in a breakaway group, or using the hills to his advantage. Obviously, if Joe’s best TT pace is slower than the pack’s average speed, he wont succeed in holding the field behind him by himself. So given the information that you have about Joe, what advise could you give him in terms of general race strategies a) on flat courses and b) on hilly circuit courses? Does Joe have no business aiming for cat 3 with his sprint and TT numbers?
 

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if joe is a good climber, on the hilly circuit course for an hour, about 45 minutes in (assuming joe is feeling strong and the race has been going well) joe should get himself towards the front. depending on how much joe feels he has left, somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes (say 10 min to go) joe should get himself second or third wheel near the bottom of a hill. then he should go like heck up that hill. and keep going hard over the top. once that happens he should hope a few guys stuck with him and they dropped the group. from there that breakaway group should paceline it hard to the finish.

(thats basically the only way i've ever found myself in a breakaway, im similar to joe, good climber but blah in the flats and sprints)

*disclaimer* i have no clue what im talking about, but i think what i said would make sense/possibly work
 

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CC09 said:
if joe is a good climber, on the hilly circuit course for an hour, about 45 minutes in (assuming joe is feeling strong and the race has been going well) joe should get himself towards the front. depending on how much joe feels he has left, somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes (say 10 min to go) joe should get himself second or third wheel near the bottom of a hill. then he should go like heck up that hill. and keep going hard over the top. once that happens he should hope a few guys stuck with him and they dropped the group. from there that breakaway group should paceline it hard to the finish.

(thats basically the only way i've ever found myself in a breakaway, im similar to joe, good climber but blah in the flats and sprints)

*disclaimer* i have no clue what im talking about, but i think what i said would make sense/possibly work
This is all it takes. He needs to attack and break up the field.

At this point he has no business thinking about cat 3. Since he has never tried to win a race, he needs to do that before he thinks about upgrades. :D

Silas
 

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Attack, attack, attack.

The thing with 4/5 fields is they tend to chase everything. But sometimes, people will look around at each other for just long enough.

Stay near the front, and if you see the pace slacken near the base of a climb as people shift or whatever, go for it, full gas like it's the end of a race. Then see if anyone came with you to work with, and settle into as high of a TT pace as you can manage.

Better to burn out and get dropped then to finish mid-pack over and over again.
 

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SilasCL said:
At this point he has no business thinking about cat 3. Since he has never tried to win a race, he needs to do that before he thinks about upgrades.
Silas, I've posted on here probably 50 times about upgrading. Probably 5000 words worth if I counted. And you've summarized my whole outlook right there... humbled I am!
 

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Amen

Argentius said:
Better to burn out and get dropped then to finish mid-pack over and over again.
This is the only way to race. Otherwise, stay home and do a charity ride. Once in a while, lady luck glances your way and you make a break stick.

I would say, though, to ease up before you get dropped. I at least avoid getting dropped if possible.
 

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It's a team sport

Not everyone is meant for podium finishes. Blocking, chasing down, pulling are all essential to a team's success. If he is unattached, he should find a team and do some work for them until he is ready/knowledgeable enough and well trained enough to break into the top 6 or 7 places.
 
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