Monday, May 10, 2010
If a road race is over 30 miles and assuming it is NOT an uphill finish, in a noticeable number of cases, the pack will hesitate somewhere around 3 to 1 K to go. It is a lull - a breather. The thing that surprises me is that the guys in the middle part and back of the field do not elbow their way forward. The guys in the front adjust, drink some water and reflect on the sprint finish that is coming. I guess the guys in the back are just apathetic. Not their day. Tired.
I first noticed "the Lull" last year at Dung #2 and literally yelled at the 1K mark "will you PLEASE just GO!" Like I always say, if you can't beat em at least try to persuade them! It happened again at Dung this year, at IVRR and yesterday at Ravensdale, just before the last corner.
Velo News points out that Cancellera won three races in three consecutive weekends: E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke, Flanders and then Paris Roubaix. In each race he attacked at 50K to go. In Paris Roubaix, the attack was so definitive, he was not required to attack again. So, here is my thought - in Pro races, "the lull" is 50K to go! If you look at Paris Roubaix, Cancellera's main competitor paused at 50K. Sank back to the cars. A drink of water. The lull. Those in the lull no doubt thought that any rational racer would do the same. 50K is a long way out and those who were there would surely finish together. Save for the sprint.
Personally, I do not care much about winning for myself. I do care about racing. As long as a team mate wins, it was an awesome day! Here is my conclusion: in order to beat opponents, it would be better to shell some of them before the sprint. Just saying. IVRR ended in a crash. I was second wheel at 1K during the lull and selfishly waited for the sprint. BIG mistake. A roadside bomb went off at 50 meter line and we ended up in the ditch. Had there been an attack at 1K, the result of the race would have been different.
This is why bike racing is a team sport. 1K to go is a LONG, LONG way. It might as well be 50K to go.
I am as impatient with amateur fantasies about "tactics" as the next guy, but a team that could put 2 or 3 on the attack during the lull, would be well nigh unbeatable assuming they had a ringer or two to exploit it. Clearly, this is exactly what the pros do. At our level, I have never seen it.