For the last time I rode the national champs, we had a few things agreed. I’ll not bore you with it all, but let’s just say the team got to really appreciate schedules!!!
We knew which way the wind was blowing on each part of the course and had decided in advance which way we were rotating.
Only a few simple comminucations…
- Flick of the head to let the rider behind know you were pulling off. We go so drilled this wasn’t even neccessary.
- Knew who would be on the front at key sections of the course - eg technical parts/hills.
- A few simple words only: Easy = slow up. Go = give it some more. Stop = we are stopping. On = we are all together, eg at junctions. Would only ever be the last rider in the line that would shout “On”. We agreed that’s all we would say during the ride.
- Have a team captain. They make the calls and adapt the plan on the go if need be.
When you’re practised you can tell when the other riders in the squad are tired. For example, the guy I would ride behind would swing off more sharply and not hold his line so well, so I told him to shorten his spells as I fell back into the paceline. (I was the team captain, this was my job to look out for!!).
I had three screen on my Garmin - avg speed, distance and elapsed time. We rode on RPE, not power, and I dictated the pace to keep us on a pre-agreed schedule.
The year we took the wrong turn we finished 12th. The following year we prepared meticulously and rode to a pace that would have been good enough for 6th the previous yr. Unfortunately what we hadn’t expected was the standard to be raised so high that we could only manage 13th. Last yr, we had the strongest team yet, but injuries led to us pulling out. This year, it clashes with anoher race so I’m undecided whether to try again!