Attacking Off the Front; Attacking Off the Back

Posted 30 Mar 2017

By Adam Naguib

tags: road, racing, race reports

The Bariani Road Race saw me galavanting around all compartments of the peloton on a 70 mile course across rolling, wind-swept terrain. The race started as per: lots of surging as a break was trying to establish. After about 17 miles I found myself having finally forced my way to the front (no mean feat with incredibly narrow roads, a strictly enforced ‘centre line rule’ and ~50 guys not really wanting to let anyone move up free of charge). So, what do you do- chuck in a move, right? Things had been going but nothing was given any freedom. I jumped on something but it didn’t really form. Immediately after, I jumped away again. Oddly, this was given a little freedom. I think as it was just me and one other guy. It didn’t seem like the field was too worried. We got a time check “THIRTY SECONDS ON THE PACK” bellowed the moto referee. At this point my companion complained that this was going nowhere. Obviously, he was right. It wasn’t that we had got away, more like we’d been let away. Irrespective, this didn’t diminish my enthusiasm, the idea is that you let it sit out there until others join.

Very shortly after our time gap announcement from the referee, perhaps a few miles, the pack reeled us in. An odd development as I had calculated that some of the bigger teams would have tried to get someone up to us, but alas not. I’d put effort into the move, so although not exhausted, I could feel the work I had just done. This is where I ran out of luck, or the field had put together a better plan then I had given them credit for. We hit some rollers, not too much but enough after an effort. Additionally, the wind had picked up. That, coupled with the peloton’s renewed desire to form a break spelt trouble. The group went nuts and in a matter of a mile 3 mini echelons had formed. I had fallen from the second then to the third. Finally I was popped. I’d only spent 7 miles out front when we were caught by the field but had done enough to weaken myself just as we hit a challenging part of the parcours.

I wasn’t spent, but a culmination of factors meant that I was unable to follow. Bad timing, bad luck, bad anticipation.

I took a small period to gather myself then started chugging along, convinced that it might all slow down. I started picking up others. Then I saw the field tantalizingly close ahead. A minute. Then 40 seconds. Then 20 seconds. So close. Then boom- I witnessed attacks starting again from the field and my tantalizingly close re-group was lost. I spent the last ~45 miles of the race plowing along, picking up other stragglers and leaving behind those who had hopped on but were spent or who otherwise didn’t want to keep pace. If nothing else, I was going to get a good session in.

My final ride was a time of 2 hours 53 minutes, with an average power of 270 watts, normalised power of 286 watts. My weight on the day was 68.9 kilograms. Only in bike racing can you put out some of the better numbers in the field but never even be in with a shot of winning. It comes down to moments. Seconds in the race which make all the difference, after which, nothing can redeem you. Also, I guess putting out good numbers all race is seldom the key, the key is to be able to put out reasonable numbers, but just at the right time.

Surprisingly, despite making it to the finish in a rather less than satisfactory 27th place out of 53 starters, I took some solace from the race. Yes, my result was worthless. However, I’d come apart after trying to make something happen. After trying to be in with a shot of winning. This time it didn’t pan out, but there is always another time. That time, I’ll try something else. Might even get flicked again.

You have got to be willing to lose in order to win, and all that.