I just realized that I’ve been doing this blog for about a year now; my first post was last year’s edition of the Ronde (von Manor), and with the same race coming up tomorrow and Sunday, I thought it might be useful to look back and see what happened last year in the Cat 3 race.
The course is just shy of 12 miles per lap and contains one significant climb at approximately mile 5. To me, this isn’t the most notable aspect of the course; a short, steep hill will hurt the peloton, but combined with the 4-mile long false flat directly afterward, it makes the perfect place to launch an attack to split the field. In the lower categories, a fresh peloton makes a split less likely on the first couple of laps, but anything can happen. My plan was to initiate a move on the 4th trip up Bitting School Road. It worked, and there is no reason the same strategy won’t work again this year.
Even without the raw power to single handedly ride away from the field at this section, a higher level of awareness will increase the chances of going with the winning move, because somebody in the field will be strong enough to make the required effort. Take the 2012 edition of Milan San Remo just last week: Vincenzo Nibali attacked on the Poggio and Chancellara and Simon Gerrans went with him. What followed was Chancellara shredding the descent and the lead-in to the finish. Gerrans did everything he could to hold Spartacus’ wheel, coming around him to win the sprint and the first monument of his career. Gerrans admits that Chancellara was the strongest person there, but Gerrans still took the win through smart bike racing. Gerrans needed to be attentive and impeccably positioned on the Poggio to take advantage of Chancellara’s effort, and he was.
The most important thing to remember is to anticipate the hill and be in a good position to go with a move on any lap, although the later it gets in the race, the higher the probability that something is going to go. If a few hitters make a move, I’d suggest going with it.
Good luck, and enjoy the race.