If you’ve ever found yourself in a keirin, points race, scratch race, madison, elimination or any other bunch race event that involves more than 2 competitors, you may know what it feels like to be boxed in and unable to unleash your big final sprint that propels you to a top position.
Not sure what we’re talking about, have a look at the diagram below….
You will note in the diagram, the red bubble represents a rider that is 'boxed in'.
A boxed in rider usually will find two or more riders over his/her right shoulder are in close proximity, leaving no room to 'flow' forward when the bunch sprint kicks, or to make a move on his/her own. The only option if you find yourself in this position is to move to the back of the bunch. So essentially, the above diagram represents the place where you never want to find yourself, particularly at the pointy end of the race.
What you really need to achieve if you find yourself behind the lead rider (say in 2nd or 3rd position), is what we like to call a ‘protected floating position’ which allows you to ‘flow’ forward with traffic. This is highlighted in the diagram below:
Diagram 2 highlights the rider (represented by the green circle) in a position where he/she occupies both the sprinters lane (between the black and red), but also owns enough room above the sprinters lane to protect himself from riders encroaching.
If done correctly, the rider will hover on the red line and approximately half a bike length behind the rider in front to allow him/herself enough room to run at the wheel in front and move forward with the flow of traffic. This is a very important strategy to call upon, particularly if the fastest rider (or faster riders) in the race will be coming from the back of the pack.
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