Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wheel Sucking

There has been some discussion on the some Google Groups on whether wheel sucking is a legitimate tactic or poor sportsmanship. Unlike triathlons and time trials it is not against the rules. But, in a break, if a rider does not pull his weight, should he or she contest the sprint?

My answer...maybe. I think it depends. Sometimes the stronger breakaway rider may make a deal with the wheelsucker. If a deal is made, no attempt at the sprint should be done. Period. But if no deal is made...the sprint is fair game. I have been in breaks before in which the only time a rider took the lead was when he was sprinting for a prime. It seemed wrong, if felt wrong, but it was his tactics. He also did not last very much longer in the break. I have also been in a break in which I felt that if I gave too much effort I would get dropped. My teammates were in the pack covering breaks and I owed it to them to stay where I was. It is part of race tactics.

Last year we won a race in which a break of 9 riders got away. Two of my teammates were in that break along with 7 other riders. My teammates did not pull through every rotation. Much of the work was done by three riders. Those three riders had teammates in the pack. Some of those teammates even attempted to attack and chase. My team shut the pack down and successfully covered all breaks. The break lapped the field and my teammate won the sprint. Was it fair. Yes. This is a team sport. We played all angles of the team dynamics.

I have never been a great breakaway rider but I am trying to change that. I am much better at covering attacks and leading my sprinter out. So what is different about a race in which I work my ass off. I attack, I chase, I bridge and I lead out. I work hard and feel good. The final lap comes around and a sprinter who has set in the entire race wins the sprint. I may have worked harder then him but he beat me to the line. Most people don't even think twice about that. They only get concerned when that racer is doing the same in a break. Should it matter?

The bottom line for me is this...I am always going to work hard if I can. I am always going to try and get in the break, but more importantly I am always going to try and stay in the break. I have set on the back of breaks before and the break was successfully able to get rid of me. I may not be the strongest rider...yet, but I'm going to try, for me and my team.

Besides sometimes there is a very good reason to stay behind a rider....

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