Cyclocross First lap

I am a midpack rider and find that my skill are better than my fitness compared to the riders around me on the grid, so I can normally move up on the first lap in the technical sections and out of corners etc but then drop back.

I was thinking the other day if my starts were a little more restrained…possibly seated sprinting from the starts and out of the corners on the first lap I might be able to have a better overall race. On RPE the 2nd lap is always the hardest but on lap times I am pretty consistent over most courses within a range of 10-15 seconds (not taking into account courses that dry).

I will try it in my next race, does anyone else try and hold back on the first lap or is it flat out and try and hold onto the end?

There’s a reason that the first lap is flat out, and as a rider with more reliance on skill than fitness, I’d say that’s even more beneficial to you.

If you have a slower start, you’re going to be stuck behind more people and therefore have more people slowing you down in the sections you’re strongest in.

I’d say stick with your current approach but either dial the effort down more after the first lap or 2 and hold consistent lap times from there, or simply do what youre doing and just work on raising your ftp and vo2 max efforts

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From a pacing perspective I’ve noticed I end up going much faster overall and placing higher when I actually don’t go all-out in the first lap. My first laps are definitely still the fastest, but if we use the third lap pace as a reference point, then when my first is around 15 seconds faster I find I’m able to hold that third lap pace to the finish - whereas if it’s +25-30 seconds faster I really start to suffer about 25 minutes in, never recover / continue to deteriorate, and my last lap ends up being 20-30+ seconds slower than my third.

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