First Road Race – Any tips on training and tactics?

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  • First Road Race – Any tips on training and tactics?
  • djglover

    Any regular racers in?

    I have finally bought my race licence and entered a few races this season.

    I’ve been training with the club and on my own for about 8-10 hours a week over the last 3 months so I think I’m fit enough. I’m happy enough riding in a bunch etc.

    First race is in 3 weeks so I have a couple of weeks to fine tune my training and think about tactis, so any tips!?

    Excellent, well done that man!

    There was an informative thread about this a few months ago, basically go off hard, try and stay in the top 20, and don’t chase anything down.

    Yup here;

    Not raced on road a great deal but the advice I was given was stay at the front and don’t half wheel. Be aware of who’s behind you as you can quickly find yourself at the back struggling to stay on a wheel. Even at cat 4 you’ll be averaging around 25mph.

    Use the first few races to watch whats going on but if you do find yourself in a position to sprint the no sudden changes of direction.

    Good luck!


    If the circuit is near you, go check it out so you know what’s what.

    Stay near the front, but not on the front. Put in as little effort as possible.


    Try and stay in the bunch, don’t bother trying anything for a few races. Just observe, see what happens and avoid the inevitable crashes.

    The hardest thing about road racing compared to MTB is the changes in pace. If you can get used to that, then you should be fine.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    What races have you entered? Road or closed circuit?

    Golden rules are basically hold your line, be aware of who/what is around you and don’t ride like an idiot! Other than that, have fun, watch and learn.


    Anyone else in the club entering? It’s a team sport, even at Cat4. Stay in the front third if you can, but watch for people coming around the outside, you can easily drop through the pack without noticing. So I’d say best position is in the top 10 on the outer edge of the bunch, out of the wind.

    If it’s anything like Hillingdon, even Cat4 can be very competitive with an average speed of 24+ mph. First race in the Winter Series had 65 entrants.

    Enjoy it. Dig deep, and you’ll realize that you a) will finish in the bunch and b) will want to enter another! I’ve done a series, but am ill at the moment and missing it dreadfully!


    What races have you entered? Road or closed circuit?

    First race is a closed circuit – at Croft. They had 80 last year I think.


    I presume you’re starting at cat.4.
    Take care if its just cat.4 only, there will be some numpts who cant stay upright on a bike or hold the wheel.
    Watch of for the semi-inevitable crash leading up to the sprint finish.

    Is it a road race or a closed circuit crit? It would make a difference to my tactics.

    For a crit (esp if its cat.4) I’d be tempted to have a few attacks off the front to see how strong the rest of the field is. If its cat.4 only then the field is unlikely to be super strong. I rode off the front of a cat.4 crit race relatively easily, where no one was too keen to bridge the gap.

    A Road Race will be tactically different than a crit. Is it a cat 3/4 or 2/3/4 race?
    If its a 2/3/4 just try and stick in the main bunch and use the race as experience, as in all likelihood it will be fast (cat.2s make a big difference compared to 3/4 only races).
    If its 3/4 only, try and stay near the front (top 10), you will need to be aware that small breaks are likely to get away, whether they stay away is up to the actions of the main group, Some advice would be to sit in and not work, but at 3/4 racing I say get stuck in and do some work at reeling in breaks etc…. as long as you aren’t knackering yourself out. Most flat races at 3/4 level will end in a sprint finish either from a breakaway group or main bunch. Position yourself near the front (which you should be already) and be in a position where you are a few wheels back coming into the final corner. Forget the organised leadouts when you watch the tour, sprints in 3/4 racing is much more chaotic than that. If you have a strong turn of speed then you’ll naturally end up near the front. Sprints aren’t that fast at cat 3/4 level. Avoid being mid pack at this point as there’s always some near misses or a proper crash.
    If its hilly then good luck as the pack is very unlikely to stay together.

    One of the things that I wasn’t prepared for when I started out was the internal politics that goes on in races. Be aware that the atmosphere can be very highly charged, more so that MTB or cross races, in my opinion there are more people in road races who think they’ve got a chance to win that you get racing MTB, as it can come down to a sprint finish. There tends to be a fair bit of shouting and swearing and sometimes pushing and shoving. Just keep your head down and follow the wheel of someone who looks confident on the bike. Try to keep off the brakes when you are close to others in the bunch, this will annoy the hell out of others and get you shouted at.
    Watch out for the “I’ve been doing this for 20 years” guys that are usually more vocal with their instructions and try to boss the group around or try to police it. There’s always someone more experienced than you in the group but don’t think they are the be all and end all.

    That’s turned into a mini essay already.

    p.s. stick to the MTB its more fun!

    Ive done loads, stay in the top 30 riders if you can, NEVER hang out near the back.
    Never go in the wind always sit on a wheel.
    Dont do any sharp manouvers(unless you want to flick someone but doubt your ready for this)
    Keep your hands on the bars, if possible ride on the drops(Sounds stupid but some riders think they are Belgium Pro’s just resting their forearms on the bars)
    When you are really suffering, look around, everyone will be suffering, it will get easier soon.
    Never, ever sit up, you will be so naffed off at the end of the race if you get binned.
    If you do get in a break, tap though nice and easy, if you feel super wrecked, miss a few turns.
    Most importantly, enjoy it. 😀


    so, on the drops even in the bunch huh? Not just when you are off the front or trying to catch up?

    Premier Icon njee20

    Ride where you’re most comfortable, I spend more time on the hoods.

    djglover – Member
    so, on the drops even in the bunch huh? Not just when you are off the front or trying to catch up?

    If you can, saves a lot of energy. Make sure you can cover your brakes quickly though.

    In a RR/Crit its not how much power you can produce, its how much power you can save till the end.


    Wow, just got back from this, it was much, much harder than I imagined! Managed to stay and finish with the main pack at least. Kept trying to hold a wheel to conserve energy, but people are constantly coming around the sides and you find yourself on the back having to work well over threshold to get back up the group and then repeat.

    Found myself at the front 2/3 of the way around the last lap, and then got obliterated on the final sprint

    BRILLIANT fun though!

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