Written by Simon de Montfor of
Today, before the usual reports from the recent downhill races, we will talk a bit about tactics.
Races which end up with a downhill ride to the finish line offer quite a lot of possible tactics for the teams. One of the obvious roles designed for such type of races is the downhill guide – but should there be one, or two dh guides? Or maybe five of them? The manager may also want to have some team mates, who can help on the climbs. But that’s not all, cause in the end there is a bit of flat road after the final mountain and some sprinting skills will be tested at the finish line – so maybe there should be a lead out sprinter in the team? Or maybe a whole leadout train???
Let us start with the downhill guide role first. This role would be used in every downhill race for sure, the only question is how many riders should serve as Dh-guides for the captain. Their number would most likely depend on proportions between CL and DH stats in the race profile. If the climbs are not important in the race, the team mates would provide little help in comparison to the Dh guides. Consequently, if climbs are as hard as the downhills, the team will want to have more balanced squad and use more team mates.
A simple rule of thumb might be that the number of DH guides should equal more less the difference between the DH stat and the CL stat. A typical DH race has a profile CL5-DH7-HL3-FR2-SP4-TQ2 (average calculated from div 1-5 Dh races), so in such race many teams would use 2 Dh guides, as 7 less 5 is 2. This could go down to 1 Dh guide in races with equal CL and DH stat, while In races like Trofeo Bajando a Grenada with the CL3-DH8 profile it would be quite possible to see 5 Dh guides supporting the captain.
Team mates are always useful, as long as they have decent skills and good team spirit! Many teams use them in DH races simply because they don’t have enough DH guides trained, or in races where climbing is an important factor. So in DH races team mates are a filler – decide how many other roles you wish to assign and then fill out the remaining ones with team mates. Easy!
Now we move to the most tricky and shady part: Dh races have often a significant SP factor. Not very high, but not small enough to forget about it completely. What should a manager do about it? If there is a sprinter in the team, he could give the captain some help in the final meters and serve as a lead out sprinter. This might be a good idea when the team lacks good team mates. However there is no hard evidence that this tactics brings significant gains. Most of the teams with good downhill captains are climbing - oriented, so they don’t even have a chance to try out this tactics. The ones which have tried it never seem to talk about it and one can never know if this is because the tactics
was a total failure, or it turned out to be their secret weapon.
Finally, there are some DH races which have significantly high HL profile (for example Stockholm Tour). In such races team can use a hill helper, if they have a decent hiller in their squad.
So you see there are some interesting decisions to be made in terms of tactics in a DH race and this is one of the reasons why people love DH races. But not the main one – the main is of course the speed ?.
Time for a recent races summary – a true Dh races marathon in this time of the season.
Day 46 Bordano GP
In Bordano Mojmir Polacik from Scorpions Poprad managed to beat the race favorite Tor Overland (Help) on the finishline. A rider from Chad named Anderson Florent Bitala, who was in the form of a lifetime arrived 3rd.
Day 48 Monaco La Condamine and Dibola- Denau
2 days later Mojmir almost repeated the success in Monaco, but eventually finished 2nd, just after Halvard Antonsen (FretexHIbas). Tor Overland arrived 4th this time, while 3rd place was taken by a Zambian rider Karemera (his first name it too difficult to spell).
FretexHibas team have also won the other Dh race this day – the first rider across the line in Denau was Sindre Ovrebo, 2nd was Adbul-Jalil Umarah from nonnies and 3rd came the rising star of downhilling Aurel Kravchenko (trackstah 07).
Day 49 Canejan – Les
In Spain it was Gregorian Jurca from Bilal who took the stage, while Drake Garcia (lastplace 1414) was 2nd. This guy seems to be always on podium this season in div 4 races – well done Drake! 3rd place was claimed by an Italian downhiller Galtem Delduca from ebane482.
Day 51 Wiltz - Kischpelt
Only 48 hours later we have seen the same faces again on podium in Luxembourg. Delduca won the race with Drake Garcia again 2nd and Eneas Duran from Jumentus CT in 3rd.
Day 52 Giresun – Fatsa
In Turkey however Drake was already very tired and didn’t make it to the podium. He finished 8th there, while the race was won by Hlynur Ismaelsson from Undisputed. Second was the well known Belarussian rider Spiridon Ekel and third place man was Leonhard Petersen from Keegan Cycling Team.
Day 54 Dali – Dali
2 days with a masseuse can do wonders and in China Drake Garcia was already in good shape. He won the race and shared a podium with Tommy Robinson from Rorys Rovers and Uffe Skelde from H2O. Delduca was 4th and Spiridon Ekel was 5th.
Day 56 Bytom – Katowice
The highlight of the DH marathon was the div 1.1 race in Poland. Brent Meijerigh fans were not disappointed at all as their beloved rider delivered just as he always does and won the race. Arend Leenpoels finished 2nd and Dominic Haidegger was 3rd.