"Team Tactics" are starting to happen on Gravel Races

princo

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I ran into this article about team tactics starting to occur in the more popular gravel rides, as in teammates passing each other water bottles so that they don't have to stop to refill. Would this change the whole gravel racing scene? Are the chances of privateer racers getting to the podium on gravel races pretty much over? Part of what made gravel racing interesting was that individual riders had a chance to win. Would this open the door for more regulation on gravel races?

De Crescenzo’s SBT GRVL win was a team effort — and the gravel scene is divided on what that means
 

Erik Timmerman

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I was gonna start this thread a couple of days ago, but couldn't find that article again. I'm not sure I have much of an opinion on if this is good or bad, but I couldn't help theorizing if you took this a step further. What happens if a men's race rider has a team of guys riding e-Bikes?
 

Primoz

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What happens if a men's race rider has a team of guys riding e-Bikes?
If things are this serious, then I guess there are rules saying it's bike race, so no motors allowed. There's, at least officially, no motors in TdF peloton either. If it's all together just fun, then I don't really get the point taking things so seriously, someone would even have a team, even less team of riders on motor bikes.
 

Erik Timmerman

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Primoz I don't know about in Europe, but in the US these gravel events will often have a "mullet" approach. Business in the front, party in the back. So a fat, slow guy like me could take the start line with Ian Boswell. Many of them are now allowing e-Bikes too and classifying them separately.
 

Philpug

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What happens if a men's race rider has a team of guys riding e-Bikes?

So, you are thinking that the eGravels that are in the same race (different classes) are there to be rolling pit crews/support team?
 

cantunamunch

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Primoz I don't know about in Europe, but in the US these gravel events will often have a "mullet" approach. Business in the front, party in the back. So a fat, slow guy like me could take the start line with Ian Boswell. Many of them are now allowing e-Bikes too and classifying them separately.

Yes, but we have to remember that the party in the back is paying for the haircut. For now, at least.

Fat, slow guys like me are still very welcome at non-Ironman qualifier triathlons, and honestly, I see those as less elite and mercenary than current gravel events.
 

Erik Timmerman

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So, you are thinking that the eGravels that are in the same race (different classes) are there to be rolling pit crews/support team?

Not currently, but that they could be if they wanted to.
 

Philpug

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don't they use motorcycles for this now? I thought I recall seeing that happening.
 

Primoz

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@Erik Timmerman honestly I have pretty much zero info regarding this, Europe or not in Europe. All I know, as few friends were involved in organization of one such event was, that at least that event was more of a fun race, sort of unsupported 200km adventure, with no strict route, no real timekeeping, and also no real prizes for winners, as it was more to get through then who will finish first. But if things are for real, especially if money prizes are in question, then I would expect them to have proper rules, which would exclude riders getting benefit from their teammates on motorbikes.

don't they use motorcycles for this now?
That's what this thread is about. :roflmao:
 

Rudi Riet

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It is certainly divisive, reminding me of the early days of MTB racing where there were mass starts at the local level races here in the U.S. These were the early NORBA days before USA Cycling and UCI sucked the life out of the sport (IMHO) and made it super corporate.

I think it is an unfair advantage for one of the women competing to have a phalanx of elite male riders at her beck and call, providing a draft, making the stops for bidon refills and such. It's a new phenomenon and to be honest it's highly unlikely that Lauren De Crescenzo would've won like she did at Unbound or Steamboat. Sure, she may have still been in the mix but it would've been a real scrum to the line instead of huge leads going into the finish.

And now Tom Danielson has taken his foot and inserted it squarely into his mouth by openly defending the Cinch Cycling (i.e. De Crescenzo's team) tactic by making it about himself. The video he posted is a disjointed rant (Tommy D, please don't go into PR or broadcasting) and makes a truly poor argument for the approach used by his team at Unbound, SBT, and other events. Cyclingnews' article/editorial on this rant is a good summary.

As far as e-bikes being in the mix, as long as they're in a different class I don't see a big issue with it. At the distance being raced by the elites (typically in the 80+ mile range) the batteries won't last too long and the e-assist needs to be used judiciously to be of any meaningful effect. After all, it's not like battery hand-ups are a thing - you'd need to carry a spare if the e-assist is in frequent use. If including an e-bike category means that more riders get to enjoy the event, why not? As long as gravel is still an evolving sport (and I certainly hope it doesn't come under the auspices of UCI or USA Cycling as they tend to ruin anything with a bit of soul) let's keep it fun.

And the Cinch Cycling approach is decidedly not fun for those who compete against their athletes. It's like having teams go full tactical war in a Cat 5 road race: it's mean spirited and not good for building the sport.
 

Primoz

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@Rudi Riet as I said, I don't follow this stuff so much that I would be even aware of that. But link you posted is pretty interesting read, which makes it more clear for me now. But exactly that is why you would need "USA Cycling and UCI sucked the life out of the sport".... because if they don't, this would be normal thing to happen. And as far as I'm concerned, this is anything but normal. One thing is, as I wrote earlier, fun even where it doesn't really matter who won. It's for fun, and if it makes fun, fine have 10 riders work for you, even on motorbikes, if you think that's cool. But as soon as we get into so serious racing as this obviously is (never though gravel racing can be a thing), then you need some strict rules and some stiff, narrow minded, annoying organization like USA Cycling and UCI behind it to set up those rules and enforce them. Because that what is in article you posted is nothing like fair racing. I'm sure with lack of rules it's not illegal, but it's certainly not fair racing. And it's also not fun. If it's so serious, then I don't see any other way then for example mtb marathons are run in Europe... pro women start about 30min infront of pro men, and everyone other category is on start line in boxes behind pro men (I still think motorbikes are not allowed on start of mtb marathons over here, but I might be wrong). With some marathons pro men and every other box behind them starts at same time, at some pro men start, then there's some gap and first box starts, again some gap next box starts and so on. I never really understood why they do like this, as I had feeling women starting infront of men will just make mess for top men riders when they catch them, but now this makes perfect sense.
Another thing is then having men and women races completely separated as Pro Tour road races are, but for events like this, I think this is still not an option.
 

Tom K.

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Yes, but we have to remember that the party in the back is paying for the haircut. For now, at least.

Well said!

I think it is an unfair advantage for one of the women competing to have a phalanx of elite male riders at her beck and call, providing a draft, making the stops for bidon refills and such.

That's the whole story, right there. :beercheer:
 

Ron

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I just sent this over to my friend who won her age group at STB GRVL and races in many gravel races for comment. I really cant' believe this hasn't been happening. Some of the teams (or clubs) were quite large with many members in club jerseys. this may occur during the earlier to mid portions of the race but there are few riders who can keep the pace of the top riders. Also of note is that she was wearing a camelbak (many riders were) which she rode with for the 1st 25 miles and only abandoned it since it was so hot that day. Should those be allowed? They allow riders to skip aid stations too. I think the winning pace of the STB GRVL was 24mph which is mind blowing. I've ridden most of the course on my gravel bike and road bike.

thats my friend Donnie on the right in that picture. He did the Leadville 100 the day before. It was called the "Lead Boat".
 
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