Dropped in a 4th cat criterium (lowest UK category) at 4.7 w/kg


#1

Hi, relatively new to cycling started in the summer of 2017 have been training for just over a year
entered my local circuit race a completely flat course (61.7 kilos) the wind was strong described as ‘gusty’ and the course was exposed there were strong headwind sections I was spat out the back after gaps opened up in front of me I was towards the back of the pack and couldn’t close the gap to the main group I was shocked by how high the standard of racing was in the 4th cat (beginner category)
I also saw a guy I know to have an ftp of around 4.8 - 5 watts (over 300 watts ftp) per kilo dropped as well is this normal for UK cat 4 racing?
Was it likely I was dropped due to a mix of poor positioning and race craft (energy wasting) or just lack of watts? The guy who won solo attacked in the last 3 laps or so and I think has a legitimate ftp of over 350 watts!
Thanks


#2

I haven’t raced (yet) so can’t testify to how common this is.

First question would be how much do you weigh? Raw watts are generally more important on a flat course.


#3

61.7 kilos sorry subtly hidden,


#4

Not much of a racer, but FTP only does so much. Especially in crits, tactics play a huge part. Even if you’re at such a high watt/kg, you probably won’t win as a solo rider with no tactics, as you’re probably not super efficient with attacks/cornering etc. Add in the fact that you may have been in a race with elite riders from other disciplines (with more skill and experience) and getting dropped isn’t abnormal. There’s an entire podcast episode that’s worth a listen.


#5

4.7w/kg sounds very good to me! However, in my area crit courses are typically pretty flat. So a 85kg rider who can crank out 3.75 W/kg might have an advantage over a 65kg rider who can crank out 4.5 W/kg.

But, anyhow, don’t be more than 6 wheels off the front. You’ve got a great power profile…what are you doing at the back anyhow? :wink: Just maintain that pos’n for the first half of the race. When you see somebody attack start yelling ‘UP UP UP UP!!’ It’s 4th cat. Everybody will freak out and chase. Just follow wheels. :joy::rofl::joy:

Then attack like you mean it. If it doesn’t work who cares. It’s a beginner race.


#6

This is almost certainly why you were dropped. In crit racing, particularly on more technical courses, your ability to maintain speed and position within the bunch matter a ton. If you’re sitting on the back of the group then you are likely wasting a ton of energy and have more significant surges in power required than those in the front 5-10 riders.

Further - FTP and w/kg are much less important in a crit - instead your ability to handle many significant surges is much more important. Certainly a higher FTP is helpful for this as the surges will represent a lower % of your FTP, but if you’re coming from a steady state background those surges will chew you up and spit you out no matter how big your FTP ends up being


#7

thanks, I tried to move up but it was to be honest hard


#8

W/kg is a poor predictor on a flat course.

At a lowly 2.5 W/kg I can drop 3.5 W/kg climbers on flat (and windy) courses, because it is more about raw power.


#9

I’d highly doubt anyone who has an ftp of 4.8 / 5.0 wkg is at cat 4 unless they’ve literally just started.

But as others have said race craft is what led you to you being dropped, even then though you’d have to have made serious mistakes to allow that to happen if your fitness is pretty good. It could also be the types of effort required are not yet your forte. Have a look at some of the other guys race files (if you can) and look how the guys who got a result manage their efforts.

When you start you’ll have no doubt done too much work, been on the front wasting energy or burnt lots of nervous energy. Keep at it and always try to stay near the front 10-15 guys (if 30+ are racing), it makes so much difference because mainly you can see what’s going on and those efforts out corners last a lot less time.


#10

The winner averaged 311 watts for 40 minutes and obviously in net power would of been a lot higher considering it was a crit, and he only attacked late for the win including the neutralised lap looks like most of laps were at around 310 - 340 watts or so


#11

The gaps you mentioned will have played a significant part in your race. This and several other key points have been discussed in a previous podcast. If a gap opens and no one responds within the first few seconds, the effort required to close that gap is far more substantial than the effort being put in by the riders who created it. The further you are towards the back of the pack only serves to exacerbate the situation.

In my local races, teams have what we call ‘hammers’. They’ll create break, after break, after break. One of their team mates will follow and if that gap isn’t closed, the ‘hammer’ will absolutely gut themselves to launch their team mate off with one hell of a lead.

First rule of crit racing is, unless you’re moving up the pack, you’re going backwards and eventually the elastic will snap.


#12

No one should ever be dropped in a critical due to lack of fitness…especially on a relatively flat course. it’s almost always race craft and poor positioning that leads to too many matches being burned at eventually being popped.


#13

Some really good comments above. In addition:

  1. It takes energy to save energy. Depends on the course but, if technical, sitting in back you will expend more energy yo-yoing as the rubber band expands and contract. Staying up front is easier in a general sense. If the course is more wide open it’s easier to move up. Obviously, there are limits to this. For example, perhaps you could stay up front in a B race but, it’s a huge fitness jump to do that in an A race.
  2. Repeatability or whatever coach Chad calls it (ability to go deep again and again and again) is more important that this crazy obsession that people have with W/Kg (I get it for climbing). The specialty phase of the TR plans are what fine tune this.
  3. Limited braking. Braking late. Conserving energy in general is an art. Knowing where to move up with little to no energy is real.
  4. Being comfortable riding super tight.
  5. Knowing the players and taking chances at the right time. Reading a race is an art. Other than race a lot I have no advise here.

#14

Point 2 of the post by @Landis is critical in my opinion.

If your race is 45 minutes +5 laps and the course has 4 corners, you can expect to be sprinting out of two or more of those corners. Say it takes two and a half minutes to complete a circuit of that course and that soon adds up to a lot of 5/10 second efforts.

Great crit racers are fit racers who can go and go again. Just look at the specialty plans.


#15

It wasn’t the Odd Down crit near Bath was it, by any chance? I’ve never done a crit, but was considering having a go at a 4th Cat race at that circuit sometime this winter. However, if it’s really that competitive, I won’t bother! My FTP is ~280 (4W/kg) :slightly_frowning_face:


#16

As mentioned several times in this thread, your FTP won’t be the only deciding factor. I’m only just above your FTP and I can place comfortably in 2/3 Cat races.

Positioning, bike handling, confidence and a touch of luck with all contribute. You really should have a crack.


#17

Thanks. I’ll give it a go then. Sounds like a cycling discipline where tactics and skills play a big part. I’m sure it’ll be fun anyway.


#18

Crits are fun and I’m willing to bet that you might surprise yourself.


#19

I think you should give it a go regardless. I’m around 4w/kg and that was good enough for a few points in a couple of races. And I didn’t do any specific crit training.
I reckon I could have done better with more experience and more neuromuscular work.


#20

Haha, I’m also thinking about having a go at Odd Down in the new year. My FTP in only 234 watts though and I have zero experience riding crits! :blush: From what I’ve read, it’s an achievement actually finishing your first crit so my expectations are low.