Behind the scenes with Lupus Racing Team: Tactics

BryanLewis-299x450Lupus Racing Team is keeping you clipped in with a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to get top results and how teamwork makes the dream work. Team member Bryan Lewis lays out how the team was able to get Chad Beyer into fourth at USA Cycling Pro Road Nationals in May.

Many people may not realize how much team tactics influence the outcome of the race, both from a pre-formulated plan and from road captains making changes and judgment calls on the road to set up the team for the most success.

As part of following the Lupus Racing Team as they race through the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour calendar leading up to the Tour of Utah Aug. 1-7, I’ll discuss our tactics and race plan at the USA Cycling National Road Championships in Winston-Salem, N.C., where Chad Beyer placed fourth.

When a plan comes together

Pre-race meeting in hotel room - photo by Les Morales

Lupus Racing Team pow-wows in the hotel the day before USA Cycling Road National Championships.

The night before the race we all met in our director’s hotel room to go over the race day. The first part is a huge flow of basic need-to-know information: When we’re leaving for the start (11:40). What time the race is (1:30).  Where our car is in the caravan (13). Where the feed zone is, and where it might move to because the teams weren’t happy with the planned location. Who is in the feed zone, what they’re handing out (two people with water, one with Sword mix), and other special details like musette bags and Coke-filled bottles.

Then we talked about the challenging 16-km circuit itself.  We discussed the twisting downhill, the tight and sketchy downhill right-hand corner where a crash was all but assured (luckily no one went down), and the need to position through the neighborhood before things opened up into Volkswagen Hill, the decisive 200-meter 15-percent-grade hill at 1.5 km from the finish line.

Pre US Pro meeting - photo by Les Morales

Lupus Racing Team makes last-minute adjustments to its plan the day of the race.

After talking through the course we get more in to the nitty gritty of the race tactics themselves.  Our director tells us what teams are represented, who they have racing, which teams will want to chase a breakaway, who will want to be represented and who we want to key off of.

Finally we talk about what we should do as a team.  In a hard attrition race, we needed representation in the breakaway, which meant myself, Mike Olheiser and Barry Miller were trying to get up the road. Of course, others are expected to follow moves, and if they get in the break that’s great too.

Only three were on strict “no extra work” duty – Chad Beyer, Chris Horner and Evan Murphy.  The idea is to get those three to the finish as fresh as possible, to be able to cover late moves, and give a go at the win.  If we have representation in the break, it ensures we don’t have the responsibility to chase the move and can further conserve energy.  The key is to work as little as possible.

Instincts on the road

Barry Miller, Bryan Lewis, Evan Muprhy and Zack Foley - photo by Les Morales

Team members Barry Miller, Bryan Lewis, Evan Murphy and mechanic Zack Foley chat before the race.

Once on the road, things can switch up, and the team is constantly talking to each other.  We check in on the three leaders, follow their direction and do anything we can to make sure their race goes smoothly.  When Chad says to follow a move, you jump, when Chris asks for bottles you go back to the car, when Evan asks you to set up a sprint you’re on it.

The general plan is laid out the night before, but we always update on the road as the situation presents itself.  At Winston-Salem, we barely corrected anything, but sometimes we make judgment calls and re-work tactics on the fly.

When the race started everything went almost exactly to plan. I got in the breakaway, Barry was in the chase group, and the rest of the team watched over Chad, Chris and Evan.

When I finally got reeled in with four laps to go, Mike and I covered more attacks and made sure Chad could continue to rest; with two laps to go, the move of the day went up the road, I was a little tired but Chad was fresh and jumped right in it and rolled that group into the finish where he sprinted to fourth.

The podium is always nice, but it’s great to see a plan executed and a solid result come out of it.

Chad Beyer finished 4th at USPro - photo by Les Morales

Chad Beyer sprints for fourth at USA Cycling Road National Championships.

Photos: Les Morales Photography