The growth of women’s cycling over the last few years has since a big increase in numbers attending events. Whilst this is obviously a positive for our sport, it also means that there are more challenges in races, as many riders (from junior to veteran) have been brought up racing in smaller numbers, where the best sprinter invariably would win. However, times are changing, and with that comes the need to understand race tactics in more depth. Admittedly, this is quite a large topic, so I will keep it relatively brief in the first instance. Here goes…
Bunch sprints don’t work for anybody other than those prepared to sprint
So if you’re not prepared to get your elbows out in the sprint finish, or you don’t fancy sprinting, you need to rethink your options. Which could be any one, or a selection of the following:
- attack off the front, on your own
- attack off the front, with other riders (not necessarily your own team mates)
- slim the numbers in the bunch down by making it hard
- use the circuit to your advantage
All seem relatively straightforward, don’t they? But hardly anybody uses these tools to their advantage.
Offence is the best form of defence
Not something you probably hear much within cycling circles – it stems more from American Football, but it is also true in road racing – go on the offensive and you are at an advantage straightaway. This doesn’t mean that you swear and curse at your fellow riders (the beauty of the English language); instead it means that you stay near the front and off the front, so that riders come to you. And guess what? It really is easier, as you don’t have to keep chasing people down, because they come to you. This lesson is especially important when you are riding in a bunch of over 60 – on the continent, races can have up to 200 riders and you can’t ride from the back to the front if 200 riders are stretched out, so you have to be near the front. I always look out for riders who are happy to sit at the back of the bunch, as the chances are that they are biding their time and conserving their energy for the sprint at the end. But if they’re at the back, that means it’s harder to stay on wheels as the less confident riders tend to drift to the back and they run the risk of getting dropped if the pace goes up.
A race is just that, a race
Which means that it shouldn’t be easy. It’s called “competition” so if you are finding that everybody in the bunch is chatting away, chances are you’re going to end up with a mass bunch sprint at the end of the race. If you know your stuff, you will know that once it comes down to a bunch sprint, you are much less likely to be in control of your own destiny and are at the whim of others. So if the bunch is having a chinwag riding along and you need a result, you need to do as much as possible to ensure that the chatting stops, the pace goes up and your competition start to find it a bit harder, because that is how you slim the numbers down and swing the finishing result in your favour.
Know your competition
This is two-fold: you want to know who to avoid (for example, riders you know who struggle with corners, or brake excessively) and you also want to know who probably knows what they’re talking about, who’s up for a race, and who you would want in a breakaway with you. If you’re not sure who that should be, look at the list of riders entered and see who’s good at time trialling, as chances are they will be pretty strong. At the same time, remember that anybody who knows what they’re doing, regardless of what they look like or how old they are, will know which wheel to follow and how to sit in. The rule is, don’t underestimate your competition.
When an attack isn’t an attack
There is a time and a place to attack. You can also attack more than once in a race, but if you’re going to do so, make sure that your early attacks are feints rather than full on attacks. The idea with this is that you are seeing who is up for the race and who isn’t on form. Make sure you attack in different places, but choose the timing. For example, most attacks happen either just after the brow of a hill or a corner when, in actual fact, the attacks which have the most effect tend to be when people least expect it.
Keeping the pace high
I’ve been in races when a discussion has been had pre-race that we would try to keep the pace high to slim the field down. The only problem is that you have that discussion with riders and then they don’t necessarily understand that it just means you do through and off at the front of the race at a fairly high speed; instead when it’s their turn to come through they attack. This tactic doesn’t usually work if you’re trying to keep the pace high. And regardless of what you may think, it’s generally a good idea to keep the pace high because the race is then safer and you don’t end up with people riding into the space underneath your armpit and encroaching on your dance space.
Lead out trains only work from the front
If half of your team is sat near the back of the bunch, it’s not going to work is it? You need rider numbers, speed, nerves of steel and lots of confidence to effect a successful lead out, so if you think your team mates are going to be hanging around the back of the bunch, pick another tactic to win your race.
Use the circuit to pick your moment
Watch your competition as they go through the finish line – if the finish is slightly uphill and people are struggling, knock it into your little ring and roll up and see whether you can ride past people as you go through the finish. When it’s not the final lap, nobody will notice that you’re watching other riders. If the finish isn’t your ideal finish, pick somewhere else to make your move – it may be a tight corner that you’re better than others at riding, or there may be a descent when you can press home your advantage – look at areas as you go around and work out what will work best for you.
Don’t be a sheep – negative racing is literally the WORST
Don’t follow every single attack that goes up the road, unless there is somebody in it who you want to be in a break with (the potential race winner, perhaps?). Also, don’t just mark people because you don’t want them to win. It makes a race really really boring. If you’ve got the ability to chase somebody down why not continue and do a real attack?
If you’re there for the photographs, you really need to be off the front
Why do you think professional riders launch random solo attacks 200km from the finish? Not because they’re mental (necessarily) but because it gives your team/sponsor(s) exposure. So if you’re in a sponsored team, do your sponsors a favour and attempt some attacks, because sponsors want exposure of the positive kind. Thanking you in advance!
Funnily enough, if you want to be there, you will probably surprise yourself. Don’t pressurise yourself into getting a result, just enjoy it for what it is – a bike race.
Check out Heathers previous guides:
Womens Cycling Planning Ahead
Click below to read:
Part One – Where Do I Start?
Part Two – What Do I Enter?
Part Three – What training should I do?
Part Four – Practice! Practice! Practice!
Part Five – Are You Ready To Race?
Part Six – Race Day
Part Seven – Circuit Racing
All images ©www.cyclingshorts.cc | www.chrismaher.co.uk
Giant Sheffield Women’s Elite ½ Cat Race
Gabriella Shaw (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International) sprinted to victory in the third Giant Sheffield Women’s Elite, 1st and 2nd Cat circuit race.
The race built into a dramatic bunch sprint in the final few laps with former winner Tanya Griffiths trying to break free in a repeat of last years race.
The front of the race had been hotly contested through-out the sixty-minute circuit race, with Corley Cycles Drops RT driving the race along in the early stages.
Amy Gornall (Corley Cycles Drops RT) had escaped the pack, only to-be neutralized whilst the emergency services accessed part of the circuit.
The race re-started after the circuit had been cleared with Corley Cycles once again setting the pace.
Team Jadan’s Henrietta Colbourne rode aggressively on the front of the race, but was unable to forge ahead with counter moves from Charlotte Broughton (Corley Cycles), Rebecca Womersly (Corley Cycles) , Amy Gornall and Annasley Park (Team Giordana-Triton).
Annasley Park began the first move of the race initially, quickly marshaled by Rebecca Carter (Team WNT) and Hannah Walker (Team WNT).
After the re-start, Rebecca Womersly took-up the pace, before Annasley once-more found herself driving the race along.
The lead group whittled down to a manageable fifteen riders, as the girls looked amongst themselves to see who would try and break-free next.
With good representation from Corley Cycles Drops RT and Les Filles Racing Team whom had both fired riders off the front through-out, any move though soon got counteracted. The pace remained high as the final few laps grew close.
Womersley, then Gornall, then Womersley once more led the race. The bell lap was looming.
Gornall was joined by Tamara Davenne (Oxford University CC), then they were brought back together for the final lap and inevitable bunch sprint.
Elite/1/2 Women Results
1 Gabriella Shaw Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl 58.13
2 Henrietta Colborne Team Jadan “”
3 Charlotte Broughton Corley Cycles – Drops RT “”
4 Elizabeth-Jane Harris Army Cycling Union “”
5 Annasley Park Team Giordana- Triton “”
6 Jennifer George Les Filles Racing Team “”
7 Rebecca Womersley Corley Cycles – Drops RT “”
8 Elizabeth Stedman University of Sheffield CC 00.03
9 Delia Beddis Les Filles Racing Team “”
10 Tamara Davenne Oxford University Cycling Club “”
11 Laura Greenhalgh Les Filles Racing Team “”
12 Melissa Lowther Matrix Fitness “”
13 Amy Gornall Corley Cycles – Drops RT 00.07
14 Tanya Griffiths Velosure Starley Primal 00.08
15 Nicole Oh Les Filles Racing Team
16 Rebecca Carter Team WNT
17 Lucy Shaw Matrix Fitness Development
18 Sophie Lankford Team WNT
19 Hetty Niblett Team Velosport
20 Sian Botteley Velosure Starley Primal
21 Ellie Russell Sportcity Velo
22 Hannah Walker Team WNT
23 Charmaine Porter Army Cycling Union
24 Clover Murray Corley Cycles – Drops RT
25 Rebecca Rimmington
26 Jenny Holl Stirling Bike Club
27 Julia Van Campen Sheffrec CC
28 Melissa Brand IKON – Mazda
29 Laura Cheesman Velosure Starley Primal
30 Nicola Moore Squadra RT
31 Tracy Best Zappis Racing Team
32 Samantha Verrill Speedflex Race Team
33 Nikki Metcalfe Team WattCycle
34 Fiona Hunter Johnston Onit Cycles WRT
35 Karen Poole Team WattCycle
36 Sophie Black Elitevelo Kalas Sportswear CRT
Yesss Electrical – BikeBoxAlan Elite 1/2 Men’s Race
1 Christopher Lawless Team Wiggins
2 Graham Briggs JLT Condor
3 Jake Hales Spirit Bikes Racing Team
4 Connor Swift Polypipe Cycling Team
5 Adam Kenway SportGrub KUOTA Cycling Team
6 Tom Mazzone Polypipe Cycling Team
7 Simon Wilson Polypipe Cycling Team
8 Oliver Peckover Sherwood Pines Cycles SRAM RT
9 Alastair Hepworth Team Envelopemaster/Bikeboxalan
10 Richard Hepworth SportGrub KUOTA Cycling Team
11 Jacob Hennessy Spirit Bikes Racing Team
12 Samuel Williams One Pro Cycling
13 Kieran Simcox Bike Box Alan/Envelopemaster
14 Elliot Jones Paramount CRT
15 Alex Minting Neon-Velo Cycling Team
16 Ryan Davis SportGrub KUOTA Cycling Team
17 Edward Clemens Spirit Bikes Racing Team
18 Max Williamson Bike Box Alan/Whiston Velo
19 Buauna Ball Zappis Racing Team
20 Robert Scott VCUK PH-MAS Junior Cycling Team
21 Michael Thompson Team Wiggins
22 Matthew Nowell Kuota – Spinergy – GSG
23 Thomas Traviss-Pollard Polypipe Cycling Team
24 James Hill Team Envelopemaster/Bikeboxalan
25 Joseph Clark Team Envelopemaster/Bikeboxalan
26 Adam Turner Andy Moore Autocentres Racing
27 Calum Lawson Broom Wagon Racing Team
28 Ashley Marshall Achieve Northside Skinnergate
29 David Clarke Giordana-Mitsubishi Electric RT
30 Jake Beach Knottingley Velo
31 Liam Davies Broom Wagon Racing Team
32 Cameron Jeffers Bill Nickson Cycles RT
33 Jacob Trotter Team Envelopemaster/Bikeboxalan
34 David Bates Giordana-Mitsubishi Electric RT
35 Luc Hall Team Wiggins
36 Alexander Colman Arrow Cycles
37 Andy Bishop Andy Moore Autocentres Racing
38 Matthew Hindmarsh Dinnington Racing Club
39 William Lewis High Peak Cycles RT
40 Liam Gilpin NFTO Race Club
Continental Tyres Women’s ¾ Cat Race
A gutsy solo break by Rebecca Hoare (Army Cycling Union) in the Continental Tyres Women’s 3/4th Cat race provided the winning move in the 2015 Tickhill Grand Prix.
Setting off three quarters of the way through the race, Becky gained a significant distance to secure first place finishing twelve seconds ahead of the main group.
The race ran at a high pace from the off in the fifty-minute session. The peloton had splintered early on, with twelve girls going clear.
Driving the group along earlier in the race, Team Jadan’s Monica Dew couldn’t edge away.
Rebecca then managed to gained five seconds midway through the race with Clifton CC’s Anna Docherty joining her.
A tumble by a lapped rider disrupted the chase slightly, but once cleared the chase was back on.
The group then reformed as they began making their way through the back markers.
It was at this slowing down point that Becky set about her winning move. Quickly gaining ten seconds, there was no reaction from the pack for several laps.
A strong performance again from Monica; she began closing the gap, this time with Johnson Wheelers CC’s Sarah Bradford.
Becky had been pegged at around fifteen seconds, but time was beginning to run out for anyone that had ambitions for the top place on the podium.
In the final push for the line, the remaining chasing girls could only sprint for second place.
3/4 Women Results
1 Becky Hoare Army Cycling Union 43.09
2 Sophie Williams Cardiff JIF 00.12
3 Anna Docherty Clifton CC “”
4 Monica Dew Team Jadan “”
5 Sarah Bradford Johnstone Wheelers Cycling Club “”
6 Hayley Edwards Team Velosport “”
7 Sophie Enever Tyneside Vagabonds CC “”
8 Elizabeth Denby Paul Milnes – Bradford Olympic RC “”
9 Samantha Wilson Army Cycling Union “”
10 Elizabeth Catlow VC Lincoln 00.16
11 Jessica Woodworth Bourne Whls CC “”
12 Lindsay Atkinson-Wright Albarosa Cycling Club at 1 Lap
13 Gemma Penman Johnstone Wheelers Cycling Club “”
14 Vanessa Holmes Arrow Cycles “”
15 Hannah Saville www.cxmagazine.com
16 Elizabeth Burrows Featherstone RC
17 Savannah Morgan Liverpool Century RC
18 Ann Walsham Maxx RT (Max Road Team)
19 Sophie Holmes Team Terminator
20 Lusia Steele Johnstone Wheelers Cycling Club
21 Isabel Darvill VC Lincoln
22 Anna Weaver Team WattCycle
23 Rebecca Smith University of Sheffield CC
24 Jess Millar Johnstone Wheelers Cycling Club
25 Melissa Greaves The Racing Chance Foundation
26 Lily Greenhalgh East Bradford CC
27 Jordan OMara Bolsover & District Cycling Club
28 Gemma Scougal WCS Race Team
29 Nicola Fox Manchester Whlrs Club
30 Emily Watson-Thoday University of Sheffield CC
31 Emma Grayson Wolverhampton Whls
32 Lindsey Styler The Racing Chance Foundation
33 Linsey Lyon The Racing Chance Foundation
34 Sarah Gregson Sportcity Velo
35 Heather Wesson Team WattCycle
36 Hazel Wright Team WattCycle
37 Nicola Doody
38 Dawn Russell
39 Vikki OBrien Manchester Wheelers Club
40 Coralie Glaunes Les Filles Racing Team
41 Zoe Forbes Giant Sheffield Poppycock Racing
42 Helen Goldthorpe Otley CC
43 Pamela Challen Team WattCycle
44 Olivia Tomlinson Team Jadan
45 Catherine Ferguson Manchester Wheelers Club
It’s Yesss Tickhill GP time! With just over an hour to go to today’s event where we will see over 450 riders take to the streets of the small South Yorkshire town of Tickhill the atmosphere is hotting up.
Tickhill GP organiser Rich Stoodley has worked his socks off to make sure this event brings equality to the men and women riding providing them with the equal status and value of prizes, the largest prize fund awarded on the UK racing calendar. With the race day in it’s third year; this is the second year the women have been given this status, and the quality of riders attending proves Tickhill GP is an outstanding success.
The racing kicks off with the youth and junior riders leading up to the elite category of riders including Team WIGGINS in the mens race, the women are represented by teams like Les Filles RT and our very own Racing Chance Foundation and Team Jadan amongst others. It’s unusual for such a large event to give riders of all levels a chance to race the same circuit and mingle with their rivals and cycling stars.
The whole village and surrounding area get into the spirit of the day with local pubs serving the official Tickhill Grand Prix Ale, you can pick up a race programme with all the information you need; riders, teams, sponsors, food and attractions. Riders will be available to sign autographs and there is a merchandise village and you can test yourself against the clock or other spectators and riders at the Rollapaluza stand. The whole event is shown on large screens around the circuit with a full commentary of the action. This year Anna Glowinski will join Matt Stephens for commentary.
The racing starts at 11.30am on the closed race circuit, get yourself down to Tickhill for a great family day of street food and top notch cycling if you can’t make it down then don’t fret, Cycling Shorts.cc are proud to be official sponsors of Tickhill GP and you can watch it live all day here on CyclingShorts.cc! Just pull up a chair, click on the link and tuck in to your Sunday lunch while you watch the action unfold.
You can find more details at: www.tickhillgp.com
11:30 U12 (Mixed) 15mins
11:55 U14 Boys 30mins
12:35 U16/U14 Girls 25mins
13:20 U16 Boys 40mins
14:10 Cats. 3/4 Women 50mins
15:10 Cats. 3/4 Men 50mins
16:25 E/1/2 Women 1hr
17:35 E/1/2 Men 1hr