Our lead out train failed...how can we do better?

One of the local teams decided to host a virtual race via Strava segments, and we decided to head out to one to lead out our team captain and another friend. Pretty sure we failed hard at this, any other suggestions how we can do better next time?

I’m no expert, but my group has gone after a few similar strava koms with some success, and I tend spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about them so I’ll throw out my opinion here. Fair warning, I claim no expertise. That said, here is our general strategy…

  1. You MUST have a plan and everyone must be on board with it. Figure out rotations and do everything in your power to stick to it. Just one screw up is usually enough to cost you the KOM if it’s reasonably competitive.
  2. If your plan was followed but failed, pick a new plan and start again at (1).

Now, for your specific route and team, you have to figure out your strengths. Not knowing your team’s fitness, here is what I would have started with…

  1. Figure out your estimated finish time. I would guess 6 minutes seems reasonable for a segment like this, but use fitness as your guide. Let’s work with 6 minutes here.
  2. You have 6 people in your group. From this, I’d figure out pull duration. If everyone is roughly the same level, everyone can pull about the same length of time. That’s 1 minute per person.
  3. Now you can decide if you want to go with the “rocket ship” approach, where everyone pulls and just drops off, or if people will get multiple pulls.
  4. In my experience, 1 minute pulls are a bit long for a short effort like this. I’d drop it down to 30s per pull.
  5. From here, you can implement rocket ship approach on the second pull. So everyone gives it their all on the second and falls off, leaving your finisher to go in solo on their turn.

That would be my starting template for your team. Getting everyone to buy in to your plan is most important though. Tuning the plan comes second.

When it comes to tuning the plan, you have a few details to consider…

  1. Your strongest rider is likely going to be your finisher. They’ll be riding longest and if your team is going at a good effort, it isn’t a free ride in the draft. It’s easier, but not easy. Your finisher needs to be able to finish strong.
  2. With that in mind, you should try to order your team from weakest to strongest. The front rider doesn’t have to ride as long as they drop off first. If you have weaker riders further back in the rotation, you can expect to have some issues holding speed on that second pull.
  3. Terrain matters. In your case, it was fairly flat, but consider trying to line up pulls with the terrain. For example, maybe you have a rider that isn’t putting out crazy watts, but is smaller and faster up hills. That rider may be better suited to pull the squad up a rise and it’ll keep the speed higher without burning a match of a heavier but higher wattage rider.

One little Strava specific nugget to consider. You always want to hit the segment start at full speed, and most strava segments allow this if you route it correctly. So that changes up your rotation and expected time. In your case, you have to be organized a fair bit before the segment begins, and in your plan consider that you’re now racing for 6:30 instead of just 6 minutes, so you likely have another pull in there. Plan accordingly!


wow cujo, thanks so much for the in-depth information! gonna share this with my buddies so we can do better next time! :muscle: :muscle:

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