When it comes to mastering the craft of the ‘cat and mouse’ there are a few simple strategies that if adhered to, will give you the best opportunity tactically to out-smart your opponent.
In this blog we want to offer your 3 simple strategies to ride the sprint from the front position.
If you find you draw ‘1’ or ‘bottom’ before the race, you’ve got the job to lead the race out for the first half lap (unless of course your opponent wants to take the front position from you).
When you find yourself in this position for the first time, it can be a bit daunting and unnerving and at times you might find yourself wondering what you should be doing in this situation, this is why it’s really important to have a race plan!
Whilst your race plan may not eventuate entirely due to the unpredictability of the sprint and differing agendas of the riders, it’s important that you have a plan (even if it’s flexible) in place to give you the confidence and ability to control the race.
So, if you draw ‘1’ or ‘bottom’ and you’re planning to ride the sprint from the front, the 3 strategies we will offer you will encompass 3 fundamental principles:
Distance = The amount of distance between you and your opponent.
Speed = The speed in which you ride at during the race at various points.
Position = The position you occupy on the track in relation to the track itself (e.g. how high you position yourself from the top, or how close you are to the bottom/sprinters lane).
So with these three fundamental principles in mind, let’s talk about 3 strategies you can implement in training to help you out-smart your opponent and win from the front in a race!
What it Means:
Watching your door, simply means ensuring that you don’t leave yourself open for your opponent to take the front position away from you.
You’ll often see this occur when a rider loses the visual with their opponent and opponent ‘jumps’ or ‘attacks’ to take the front position away.
What it Means:
Maintaining enough distance to counteract an attack is pretty self explanatory and a lot easier said than done!
It can be particularly difficult if you’re trying to maintain a slow controlled speed to play into your own tactics, and find that your opponent creeps right behind you in the lap to two of the sprint. If this occurs, you should never panic, but keep a clear focus to retain the control of the race.
When we talk about maintaining distance to counteract attacks, you will usually find an opponent trying to take the front position away from you towards the end of the race when the sprint commences, or in the half lap prior.
In this case, the objective is to try and maintain enough distance so that if your opponent decides to attack early, you have enough distance and space to counteract the attack and remain in front. That way, at worst they will end up on your rear wheel, or your right hip and having to travel the long way to get around you.
What it Means:
Controlling the speed of the race using the track, simply means using the track to generate or reduce speed without relying on your energy systems to do the work.
It may not seem like a big deal, but by using the banks to generate or reduce speed on the track you allow yourself to conserve energy until the ‘business end’ of the race.
When you think about it, the first 1.5 - 2 laps of the race can lean towards 30 seconds or more. If you’re finding yourself constantly slowing down and speeding up without maximising the banks, you’ll be spending unnecessary energy that can be utilised later in the race.
When races are one and lost in photo finishes, it really does highlight the need to maximise free speed and couple it with your race tactics.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog where we will offer sprint tactics and strategies to ride from position 2, or the back.
Share with us your experiences on track sprinting tactics in the comments below!