Acceptable cycling conduct question

Draft legal - runners sitting on wheels.

6 messages
22/10/2018 at 12:19

My son has been competing in triathlon for the last two years and has become a stand out cyclist among the rest of the competitors his age. He places very well but when it comes to draft legal events is getting super frustrated that the good runners are just sitting on his wheel on the bike and refusing to share the workload.
We don't feel we should just accept this. What we want to understand is how aggressive he can be without contravening the rules to either get rid of them or force them to put in.
Reading the rules I could interpret that slowing down(braking hard) while not to the left might be construed as blocking. But if he is to the left of the track does that then become the responsibility of the rider(s) behind to keep a safe distance?
I won't beat around the bush, if a runner is sucking on his wheel and unresponsive to requests to share the workload he'd be quite happy to help them kiss the concrete when their front wheel makes contact with his back wheel or at least making following close to him seem like an unnecessary risk.
Of course this is playing absolute hardball but is there a way according to the rules that this can be done (sudden braking to initiate a possible wheel touch or to instil fear) within the rules? Surely the runners can't have it all their own way in these events.

22/10/2018 at 14:58
Tricky one Birdman,

Aggression either in riding or communications is not on. Your son will get a bad reputation if not repeated DQs and if he did it to me there might be tears. Yes, the others are taking advantage but that's the nature of draft legal racing. Drafting has always gone on in the swim. What does your son do then? Not heard of top swimmers complaining. Drafting on the run is also allowed. Again, what does your son do?

He has a few options:
1. Don't do draft legal races. Not really a good idea is it
2. Learn to break away from the front create a gap and get away that way. He may have to do some of the sessions that criterium and other road racers do rather than the TT type training usual for triathlon. Essentially learn to make and burn matches.
3. If he has lost his advantage on the bike then maybe its time to make progress on the run
4. Realise that draft legal triathlon requires strategy and tactics. It is head to head racing rather than a three element time trial. It requires developing those abilities that the race requires. Bit more brain and a bit less brawn. Ali Brownlee has proved to be something of a master at it. His commentary from the Nottingham relays shows this to be so

Hope this helps, HarryD
23/10/2018 at 00:56

Harrry,

It is a tricky one isn't it which is why we're trying to understand what is possible and legal within the rules. Let's be honest draft legal events either by design or default penalise the good cyclists. Drafting in the run is virtually a negligible advantage. The swim from our experience sees some incredibly dirty play going on. There's kicking, gouging, pulling off of googles, leg grabbing, etc and there's never any price to be paid for those that do this but when we get out onto the bike all the sudden we're expected to be nice as pie gentlemen ready to be taken full advantage of.

23/10/2018 at 12:15
Birdman,

The general conduct rules (irrelevant ones edited out) are (as you've already referred to):

2.1 General Conduct: Competitors will: (i) Practice good sportsmanship at all times;
(ii) Be responsible for their own safety and the safety of others; (v) Treat other competitors, organisers, officials, volunteers, and spectators with respect and courtesy; (vi) Avoid the use of abusive language;

These rules clearly rule out and moves or actions that may cause accidents or harm. So I would suggest braking designed as a race tactic is out.

Blocking is also out but I would expect that most draft legal races are on wide tracks. I'm sure you can confirm this. So as long as your son keeps left and there is enough safe space for overtaking on the right (remember cannot overtake on the left in this country) he can slow down without blocking. Unnecessary braking would risk the safety of others so is out.

My view is that slowing down by sitting up then not pedalling would be OK if it was to force the others to pass. He could also tell them. I would tag on to the back of the pack, recover then use them to slingshot into a break. This would need road race type training and practice. He could also take it easy approaching dead turns and sharp bends then accelerate out to create a gap. Even I can gain distance, usually ~10m, at such turns without the acceleration out. Gain 15 or 20m and the drafting advantage has gone. Again this would need practice.

Whatever your son does remember that most triathletes have very poor bike handing skills and he won't benefit from some dozy crashing into the back of him. As has happened to me leaving T1 despite the race director being very specific in the safety briefing. Also, don't expect those saving their legs to help out by taking the lead. This would include those with as good cycling ability as your son as where would the advantage be for them? Fresher legs mean a better run for everyone.

Don't know if this helps
30/10/2018 at 17:37

If Im racing in a draft legal event then I'm going to sit on the wheel of any good cyclist that I can , hopefully saving myself for the run and hopefully finish before the better cyclist that has done all the work, why wouldn't I if I wanted a win. 

 

31/10/2018 at 01:25

Birdman I feel you and son's pain, it used to happen to me regularly when I competed. It's a blight on the sport that they make the best events draft legal which really only judges who is the best of two of the disciplines instead of all three. Cycling is virtually cancelled out for draft legal. There are things you can do within the rules like getting ahead out corners, etc but a couple of runners working together on the bike will easily pull that back in short time and will be back on your son's wheel. 
You probably will have guessed that the responses you've had so far have all been from runners .
You're on the right track by the way and it's not necessary to have to brake very hard to cause a bit of trouble behind you. One of my finest memories is looking back after powering out of a 180 degree turning point in a wet race and seeing the three that had been circling through and taking turns in my draft were crashed out after sliding across the road on their asses because I made them make a "mistake" with some well timed touching of the brakes on the approach to the corner.
Always remember the cycle course is always very big and that they can't perch an official every step along it. Just the same as the swim, what an official doesn't see or hear didn't happen.


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