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August 8, 2011

A Lesson in Bad Position

by hammonjj

The Bannock Criterium started off like any other, a sprint off of the start line in order to position for the first turn.  In fact, this race was pretty standard and I even felt like the race was downright easy until about five laps to go.  This is where I started having problems.

In a criterium, position is everything (I’ll write more about this in another post).  If you’re not reasonably near the front, then you can’t respond to attacks very well.  If you’re boxed in the middle of the peloton, you also can’t respond to much.  From this point in the race (5 laps to go),  I did a poor job of creating escape routes and staying near the front.  What would happen is I would move up, but, once I attained good position, I wouldn’t fight hard enough and ended up getting boxed in by other racers trying to do the same thing.  Once this happened, I would generally get sent four or five position back, which I would then have to make up again.  This constant battle is no way to race a criterium.

With one lap to go, I knew I was in trouble.  I was ten or so riders back and knew I need to get into the top five to have a shot at the win.  I waited and waited for the last straightaway before the finish.  It was on a slight hill and I knew that I would be able to move up here.  My mistake was moving up on the outside of the second to last turn as this put me in TERRIBLE position for the final turn.  I move up to fourth wheel, but we were spread four wide and I got pinched going on the inside of the last turn, forcing me to grab the brakes.  Once I made the turn, it was a matter of trying to hang on to positions as I now needed to reaccerate to what everyone else’s speed, I came in 13th.

What should I have done given everything happening the same way?  Once approaching the last turn, I should have started my sprint, so I could get slightly ahead of the peloton.  This would have allowed to me keep my speed through the final turn.  I would have unfortunately been used as a lead-out and probably still lost some positions, but I would have been looking at a top five instead of 13th.

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