Hi Michelle- this is a great question!
In an organized group ride, taking a pull at the front then rotating to the back of the line is the general rule. Exceptions to that rule are when someone is tired and they say they will be “gate keeping” and therefore not rotate through, or when the group ride is not really organized and people just ride “peloton style” with some rotating and some drafting the whole time. Either way, that is usually agreed-upon before the ride.
In a race, however, this general rule does not apply, as the objectives are completely different (i.e., win or help your team mates win!). The 3 women in your example were doing that for one or more of the following reasons:
- Positioning. You have to stay closer to the front to be able to cover any attacks, moves, breakaways. If they rotate to the “back of the line” they won’t be able to react fast enough when an attack happens, and it can happen at any second.
- The women’s field is usually small and the players all know one another in these local races. As such, they probably knew they were in a different category than yours, and did not want to risk going behind you and losing a good position at their competitors’ wheels.
- If you move to the back of the line, and someone in front of you lets a gap happen, you would need to spend a ton of energy to fill in that gap and not get dropped from the group.
A possible exception to the above in a race scenario is when you have a small group of riders who are in a breakaway. Let’s say they were able to break from the main group, and now they need to work together to keep the gap and not let the chase group catch up to them. But this is only if there is still a ways to go in the race. Riders will work together until someone else attacks again, from the break.
Do you think the above is applicable to what you were experiencing?