How Was Your Race Season? – What needs to be done for 2022?

By: Coach Paul Ozier

Train to Win

I hope everyone is staying motivated and thinking about the upcoming season. Last year has come and gone. How was it for you? Did you meet your objectives? Think back about your best performance, or your worst. What could have been different? Not just in that particular event, but what could you have done differently to have a better result before the event? If you won your event, well I guess you are pretty happy. If the event had a less than expected result, what was the cause? Do you need a stronger and faster sprint, higher FTP, better VO2Max, or better race tactics? Let’s talk about a key point that a lot of riders miss in training; race tactics. We all go out and perform our intervals, long rides, and whatever else we are told to do by our coach, team mates, or whomever is directing you toward that path to glory. In my years of coaching and racing I have seen time after time that the rider with the most horsepower does not always see the results that the training numbers show he/she should receive. How many times do you go out and practice winning a race? How many times do you go out and train to win? What data do you look at to see how you performed and why you just could not pull off the race results you hoped for? Personally I upgraded to category II and I am definitely not the strongest rider around. Race smarts, experience, and having a game plan (and goal) was my key.

Some race tactics that are often overlooked are cadence, and conservation of energy.

Do you know your competition?

If you have trained all year and timed everything just right for your A event of the year, then you will most likely be feeling very good on the bike. You will feel like you are unstoppable. You may feel like hammering away to show everyone you are king. However, the only time you can claim the title of king is when you are standing on the top spot of the podium. Your A event is not the time to make senseless attacks or efforts. The thing to do today is know your competition, conserve and let other riders make the unsuccessful attacks and moves. Why waste all your training on showing off today. How many times have you seen the race come back together in the final few miles? You need to stay in the shelter of the peloton as much as possible, this is your A event and what matters most is achieving the goal you set for yourself months earlier. Save your legs for when things really start to heat up, like the last break away with 10km to go, for the final climb before the finish, whatever you have determined to be the deciding moment! Many riders that did the earlier work, attacks, moves, will fall by the wayside. If you know the competition, and you should, after all this is your A event, keep an eye on the riders that have a history of placing well or better yet, try to learn why they are racing today (what is their goal?). Watch the riders that always seem to make moves that stick. These are the ones that you will need to go with if an early move is made. Do you know the racecourse? Is the course one that always ends in a field sprint, or is it the course that has that key 1km climb, 5km from the end? Plan for the race, make a game plan and stick to it as much as possible. Game plans are great, but sometimes you have to be aware that the plan needs to be adjusted slightly if circumstances warrant. Think, be smart, and do not react senselessly. This is a race and things most likely will be unpredictable. Be aware of the environment around you; wind, course conditions, road surface, other riders, cars/traffic, etc.

Know “Your” Cadence

Cadence is something I will touch on briefly. Research with your coach all of your racing and the key training files and compare cadence in training to cadence in racing. So many times I see riders train at X watts and Y cadence. In a race they still race at about X watts, but the cadence is higher than in training. This excessive cadence variation if not trained can cause a higher respiratory rate, increased heart rate, a higher perceived exertion (and this is one I have heard many times destroyed the riders mental focus), and a different level of fatigue that many times spits a rider out the back. Key here is to know “your” cadence and stick to it in training and racing. Watch cadence in a race just like you watch watts and heart rate. If race data shows you always exceed training cadence by 10 or 15 rpm during a 30 second blast out of a corner, or a 2 minute effort to close a gap in a criterium, then you would benefit greatly by training at a similar cadence and power as you plan for your racing block. We must prepare the body for the demands of racing, while in training.

What is it going to take?

Now is the time to look back and educate yourself about the previous race season and get a grip on what you need to be doing right now so that this year coming up has a happier ending. Now is not necessarily the time to do only months of long, slow, and easy riding. The fall and winter hold the keys to a successful race season ahead. Now is the most important time to work properly to move to the next level in the coming year. What must you do to
make the coming season a success?

Paul Ozier is an Elite/Master Level coach for PCG. He is a USA Cycling Level I Coach, and TrainingPeaks certified. Paul has been with Peaks Coaching Group from the beginning of the early 90s when he started getting coached by Hunter himself. About 10 years later he became a certified coach and started coaching for PCG. He has a background in road racing, mountain bike racing, Zwift, Gran Fondos, and gravel racing as well. Paul’s goal is to make your goal possible, no matter what the cycling path you take.