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December 8, 2008
Depending on the mood of the peloton, sometimes races can be extremely negative. What I mean by “negative” is that every time someone attacks and attempts to create a break-away it gets chased it down. Sometimes this can be a very intentional team strategy for those who want the race to come down to a field sprint. Or it can also be a result of too many people in the peloton being nervous and excited where every time a rider goes up the road, someone tries to go with him and ends up dragging the whole pack up to that rider. If you have some nasty crosswinds at your disposal, there is one way to split up the group so that you can get rid of those riders just sitting on. Throw it in the gutter!
When the direction of the race turns into the crosswinds it’s time to ramp up the pace with a few other willing riders. It can start off with four or five of you rolling some hard and steady turns up at the front of the pack. No need to “attack” or make any aggressive moves – all that’s needed is a few of you sharing the work-load riding a hard and steady pace in an echelon . At first you should only use about half of the lane available to you so that too many people cannot get into that echelon . If you look back after a couple of minutes you’ll see the rest of the peloton strung out single file all the way to the back. You’ll be working hard in that echelon up front, but I guarantee you that the riders behind riding single-file in “the gutter ” are riding much much harder trying to hold that wheel in-front. Sooner or later someone in the gutter will drop a wheel and a split in the field will occur. Keep riding hard in your echelon until a nice gap in the field is established. Very rarely will the bunch who have been dropped get organized enough for a successful chase to happen. Now, instead of 100 riders to contend with at the finish line, you only have a small group.
Tip: Where the course changes directions (i.e. a corner in the road) is when the race will head into the crosswinds. That may sound obvious, but pay close attention to the wind direction and where to course will turn. If you’re too far back in the peloton when the group decides to ” put it in the gutter ” you’ll never get up to the front to be a part of it. You’ll be one of the poor riders holding on for dear life!