Friday, March 21, 2008

Tactics, lessons learned

I keep thinking about the UMD race and what went well and what didn't. Breaks didn't really work to well due to the lack of team depth and probably the course layout. Being able to see the people off the front from anywhere kept them in mind and reminded you that you needed to bring them back...they were never "out of sight, out of mind". What I've been thinking a lot about is the end of the 4 race actually. Rayman did a great job at scoring the win, but it shouldn't have played out that way.

With about 5 laps to go, there were only a handful of guys left in the race that actually had a shot at it. We (R1V) had about 6 guys left in the pack to everyone else's one or two. This is where tactics would have been interesting. We should have been attacking and counter attacking the group. With that many guys left, we could have caused some stress to the group by forcing everyone else to bring back the pack to the attacker. If we sent someone up the road and forced another team (individual) to bring him back we could launch someone else up the road once the catch was made and repeat until everyone else was exhausted and we had someone off solo for the win or been fresh for the sprint. We had enough to even have done that while also saving someone for the sprint....I know, tactics at our level is tough. Most of the time we're just holding on for dear life for the finish, but that was a race where we could have pulled it off. The thing is also that the attacks didn't need to be suicide attacks...just enough to cause a little separation and force someone else to put in a little effort (as opposed to sitting in and staying fresh).

I say this purely for spectatorship reasons...I think it is one of the most awesome things when a team can put it together and actually accomplish the goal they set out to do. We've done it a few times at the DC World Championships (Thursday nights at Hains it sticking?!?) with leadouts, and not only is it fun to be a part of...they're unstoppable and work every time against someone trying to take the sprint solo.

One major problem is that there is no definition of roles until you get to much more serious levels. Not a lot of teams and riders are willing to go into races knowing that they're only role is to help someone else have a shot at winning. Maybe the organization isn't there until you get into the P/1/2 categories...I know we all know about that stuff (we get the magazines and we watch the race coverage), but maybe it's just harder to implement in reality. I went into this season with aspirations of being the team player and trying to get those who have been 3's and higher longer than I have shots at winning races. This past Saturday was just me being fortunate to be in the right position at the right time and making the right move, but I know I'll get a bigger kick out of being responsible for getting a teammate a win.

Plus, if I've learned anything from my current professional career, it's that I'm no winner. :)



GamJams said...

You'll probably find your willingness to sacrifice yourself for someone else's victory - particularly at the end of the race where you're in contention yourself - makes you unique. In my experience, tactics fall apart in the lower category races because most guys are looking to win every time out, not contribute their particular skill towards a team win. Upgrade points are dear currency.

I also hear pretty often, "If I'm not in contention at the end, I'll do what I can to help someone." If you're cooked and clinging to the back with 2 miles to go, that's not much help. Thanks for the offer, though.

A well-organized Cat 3 or 4 squad - not just a squad of really fit guys - would be formidable indeed. If you guys don't pull it off, I bet Bayside / Bike Doctor will.

RayMan said...

Interesting topic; team tactics when you have the field out numbered.

In the final selection there were 13 riders: 6 from Rt1, 2 from All American, 2 from U Md, 2 from Bike Lane and Me. Being completely out manned, I rode conservatively and extremely cognizant of anyone looking to jump. When the All American Ride and U Md riders were off the front about 15 secs, I sat in the back and let the other teams pull them back. Since we were only about half way through the race, I never considered them to be a threat of staying away the rest of the rest and when I saw that they were not gaining any time, I really wanted them to stay out front and waste their energy. I think Rt1 did most of the work pulling them back in, but we still had a lot of time to race. The pace slowed up a lot towards the later part of the race since I think everyone was getting tired. If I had other team mates, I would have attacked during the slow periods, just to make everyone work.

But you are absolutely correct, with the #s Rt1 had, they should have been attacking in waves throughout the race, and forcing the other riders to chase them down. As a solo rider, I was looking to the other teams to do the work.

All I can say is it was a fun race because it was clean and no one did any stupid shit. So, atypical of the Cat 4 races from last year.