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By Columnist Genevieve Whitson – Professional Cyclist:

15522781700_ec3ed84899_bPhoto credit: roll via photopin (license)

Why is it that the same folk are finishing at the front of the race? Are they actually that much stronger? Or are they just better at positing? Today we will dissect ‘bunch positioning’. Let’s go…

Position Yourself Well

No matter how bad your sprint is, if you are in the front rows of the peloton going into the finish, you will do better than your buddy sitting three to eight rows back. Simply put, you have less ground to make-up.

I had a team manager convinced I had a terrible sprint based on my many 50+ placings in top women’s races. Then, one day I got to the front going into a sprint and won the race.  I didn’t have to sprint that hard, I was at the front, it was a lot easier than trying to get through the bunch.

Winning Positioning

If you want a shot at winning a race, you need to follow the golden rule – sit in the top three rows in the bunch. Never constantly on the front, more so second row back, shielded from the wind and doing 30% less than those in front.

You don’t want to get a reputation as a ‘wheel sucker’ though, so if you do make it to row one, do a small turn by soft pedalling and then pull off. You also don’t want to be the ‘work horse’, pulling the whole peloton along. So if you do find yourself on the front a lot, start riding a little slower, eventually someone will attack or take a turn.

Front Positioning

The trick to staying at the front is to constantly pedal and look for gaps to fill. It’s okay to ride on the outside row. But, you could be exposed to the wind, working a lot harder. So tuck yourself in where possible, or sit behind someone who is  ‘ace’ at positioning, and let them pull you up.

Hill Positioning

If you are not a strong climber and the hill is approaching, get to the very front row. Even if you do start slowing down as you climb, you will still be in the bunch, even if dropping, rather than behind the bunch.

Finish Positioning

Coming into the finish, with 5 kilometres to go, start making your way up. With 3 kilometres to go, try and be no further back than the 2nd or 3rd row. If the bunch gets strung out at the 1 kilomtre mark, then you need to be around wheel number 5 if you want to contend the sprint.

From races in the USA, UK, EUROPE, AUSTRALIA & NZ this rule has worked time-and-time again to get me podium finishes and many top 20 results in world class competitions against the best women in the world. So what is stopping you from giving it a go?

About Our Cycling News and Review Columnist

Jarlath-Cross-20131-960x576_GenevieveGenevieve Whitson is a NZ born, British/Scottish cyclist, based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Gen has a raced at the highest level for Road, Cyclocross and Mountain biking, have competed in four World Championships, multiple World Cups as well as riding professionally on the road. Gen has raced all around the globe on the road bike and is currently riding for a Belgium team, Isorex competing in all the major spring classics.

Highlights of her career include gaining a top 30 finish at the World Cyclocross Championships, a stage win in a major USA road tour, and winning the 2015 Scottish National Hill Climb Champs. Gen also loves to ride a rickshaw in Edinburgh for strength training on the side and is heavily involved in supporting/mentoring up and coming female/male athletes to ride to their potential. Her mantra on the bike is: Eat the pain…

Disclaimer: The information published in this column are based on the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

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