Monday, April 14, 2008

Dummies Guide to Teamwork and Cycling

For many, associating teamwork with cycling is impossible. Teamwork is for football teams, baseball games and doubles tennis matches. Teamwork and cycling? Never. For those in the peloton turning the pedals, teamwork IS a bike race.

This past weekend, the Turtle Pond road race was a textbook example of cycling teamwork...both good and bad. Let's take a look at the bad.

The Bad
Four miles into the 69 mile race, I found myself enjoying the company of five other riders chasing the winning break. With RKelly up the road, I was in the chase group but doing nothing to help the chase.

"Hey, pull!! We'll never catch them if you don't pull!"

I was being lectured by a younger rider from Hot Tubes. Ceartainly, his enthusiasm was great. He was ready to ride. Ready to win. He was ready down his teammate.

"Uh, isn't that your guy up there sitting in the break?!" I ask him.

"Yeah, so pull!" he retorts.

Obviously, this kid failed Team Tactics 101: Don't Chase Teammates in a Break. Up the road, the break was rolling along and destined to win, but this kid wanted to chase down his own teammate. Fortunately, my effort, or lack there of, to keep the break away succeeded. Never, never, never chase down a teammate in a well represented break.

The Good
I look back on Sunday's race and see our team's tactics as being awesome. However, the true teamwork professors are the guys from Fiordifrutta. Working with a full team, these guys turned the back roads of Loudon, NH into a lecture hall.

We barely reach two miles into the race and the fireworks started. Attacks were coming in all directions with chases being launched just as quick. Suddenly, a small group of riders steals 10 yards. I get swarmed by Fiordifrutta riders who effectively build a road block. They have a guy in the break. Like a sick puppy, the gap is nurtured and protected by the Frutta guys. Other racers tried to hurt the gap and the Frutta riders shut them down. Every lucky-feeling guy attempting to bridge found a red kitted Fiordifrutta guy clinging to their wheel. Ultimately, their teamwork paid off and the finish line was crossed first by a fellow Fiordifrutta rider.

In the end, it doesn't matter who crosses the line first. It could be you, or it could be your teammate. As long as your team has a guy taking the W then the race was a success.
Lance Armstrong never could have won a Tour de France without his teammates.

Lessons Learned:
NEVER chase a teammate in a break.
Do all in your power to let a gap grow.

Oh yeah, and if you are a Pro, stop complaining and earn your pay check.


Anonymous said...

....except when the break has a large enough advantage, then you keep the field rolling to discourage attacks. Theres a difference between controling and chasing

1 person holding 22 on the front calmly is a lot better than 20 people attacking at 27 mph one after the other

Anonymous said...

One person holding 22 on the front will usually get passed by the field doing 25. If you are in a crit and want to discourage attacks, then you need to ride fast, have a strong team, and hope your teammate in the break has some legs.

And yes, it's wise to start working once the gap is too big to be threatened by the chase group. But, until then, sitting on the back and letting the chasers tire themselves our is best.

Anonymous said...

wrong, sigh, idiottttssssssss