Returning to XCO - race strategy

So, I am experienced but have raced and trained XCM - 6h to 12h endurance being my forte - for several years now, this year making a return to XCO for a change, yet after some illness affected power degradation.

The typical short 1-5min climbs on a 5km-7km atypical UK course are my weakness, so I’m wondering, would you attack them to minimise time loss, or sit at FTP as a maximum to maximise energy & performance for the rest of the race?

The honest answer is ‘it depends’. Are you competing for the win? If so, you’re racing the other competitors not the course. So if they go - you go, as most UK courses are flat enough for aero to be significant.

If not, then as most XCOs in the UK are lapped for the best rider to come in about an hour, your pacing strategy is never going to be best achieved by going well over threshold when you can - so back to it depends. What does the course do immediately after the climb. If you can stay on the gas - consider the effort a longer sustained one. If immediately standing to descend, you can afford to treat it more like an interval session.

Great thanks - these are exactly the kind of nuances I want to consider, having learned & applied my power profile and strengths & weakness for XCM only.

The short answer would be - as fast or faster than your competitors! However, I think races will not only come down to the climbs, but bike handling on the descents. Don’t neglect the bike skills over power.

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