Road Racing and working in group

@Coach_Theia I’m new at posting so this may not be in the proper spot :flushed:

Question: when racing and working with a group, taking turns pulling - I am under the impression that when you rotate through the line, 1st rider goes off to the back and everyone takes a pull?!?? Last weekend I was on 4th wheel and the 1st 3 ladies keeps cutting me off and not rotating to the end? I felt like I wasn’t going to fight with them for a pull?? They were being kind of aggressive with cutting in - they were a different CAT but not all on same team - was I doing something wrong?

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?


Yeah, we got mixed signals from them- they wanted us to work together but kept edging us out on the pulls - I know that I was worried a couple of times when I had to burn some matches as I got stuck behind a lady that kept losing he wheel in front of her. So that does make sense- they didn’t know me and I was in a different CAT. Thanks for the explanation!

I guess the other side of that scenario is, you could have kept your position as 4th, as that is close enough to the front, and let the other 3 do all the work while you were drafting off of them…

That is exactly what I did - I came in 3rd overall and 1st in my CAT. Still new at racing and not confident on tactics yet :wink:


Yeah! Smart!!!

When I’m on a fast group ride and I want to get into the rotation, I just yell “IM COMING IN” and they let me in. It takes confidence to yell that, so I just scream it. They let me in. If the rotation is counter clockwise I stay to the right of the wheel in front of me slightly so the person rotating on the left cannot run into me if they can’t hear or don’t know I’m there. If they move into me I just put my hand or elbow out and move them. If your handle bars are in front of theirs, they will crash if they move into you. It’s called “quacking”. Once your handle bars are in front of theirs you are in control.

In a race your situation is great. Three people working hard and you sitting in. You want to find people like that who will work for you without knowing it. And sitting toward the front is great. You can react to breaks.

Large pack races are like a big washing machine. People go up the sides and people go back the middle. It’s called the washing machine effect. If you are not moving forward, you are moving back. Until the break happens I just follow wheels on the outside. They do the work to move up on the outside and I get a free ride. I never hit the front or work hard until I need to close down something.

1 Like