First rule of thumb starts before the whistle is even blown. Warm up on a stationary trainer. You may be able to get away without warming up as a cat 4, but I can’t see it happening as you go beyond cat 3. Get to the line early. You want to have good position before the race starts. Unless you are a pro tour racer then starting from the back isn’t the best idea. You want to practice clipping in on the fly. You may say I know how to clip in and out, but when in a crit the speed you need to do it is amplified.
So now we are under way and here is where it is hard to coach exactly what to do. You start running into, if this happens in this minute and if this guy does this, then you do that. So we will start with riding solo or without a team. Your best option when riding solo is to sit in the pack for most all of the race. Then hope and pray it stays together and sprint at the end. Maybe sit in the race until 30-40 minutes have passed and then go with the “late” break. I should it is not easy to break away in any race and stay away for 30 minutes. You need to judge how many laps you can go all out, and how long you will need to pull up before another hard effort. If you know the race should stay together, than sit in and go for the win.
Now your team is with you! What do you do now? First, a team meeting should be held. I know a good plan is better than anything and it really equates to your team’s fitness. If you have a full “squad” of guys/gals, and all of you are in top form then send folks after all the breaks. Be represented in everything, that tactic tells the other teams that you mean business. Save your guy that you want to win for the last 20 minute segment of the race. If your team misses a late break or is out matched in a break, still move to the front and wait to see how the break pans out. You can block and pretend at this point. As soon as guys start to go around you, send someone on their wheel. Remember the odds may change in the break at that point. There is nothing worse than to have a guy in the break and then getting caught sleeping on a big move by a strong team. Let’s say that the break is getting reeled in; be at the front to attack as soon as the break is pulled in. Ah ha, you thought we were done, but no, we have another one. Eventually, someone might give up and let your team control the race. The last 5 last are a no holds bar, slug out, drag out, war. The team should be organized and packed in together near the front. No riders should be sitting in the middle of the pack waiting. A certain number of riders are assigned to reel in any late breaks that may go up the road, or to create your own late break, if that is the plan. If your team has numbers, then a little train can be set up on opposite side of the road as the last turn. Let’s say it ends in a right hand turn to a sprint, than set up more left. Each rider needs to pull for the predetermined, specified amount of time. 1 lap, 2 laps, 5k, or whatever, just know how it is set up and really should be practiced millions of times over. All of that should predetermined or at least talked about. All that really is being said here is to not get the team trapped in the last corner and have numbers at the front to pull your guy to the line. That all riders sacrifice a bit from time to time, no one rider can just do whatever, and everyone must be on the same page of the same book.
Head Coach –The Lead Pack Cycling Group