Some thoughts on handicap racing….

The best way to approach a handicap race is for everyone to work together to keep your group ahead of the one behind and catch the one ahead and place your bunch to the front of the race (on time) so one of you (your team) can try and win it. It’s a team event until you hit the front.

In contrast, some people ride handicap races the same as graded mass start races, treating others in their group as threats, and sitting in the bunch conserving energy waiting for the sprint, or even attacking their own group. In a handicap event you should not attack your own bunch, or attempt to put them under pressure, as this disrupts the flow and slows things down. You might be the strongest in the group but it is very unlikely that you are stronger than your group combined, you will need them to get to the finish at the front of the race. You should be working with them, not against them. But feel free to attack inside the last few kilometres if you think you can get to the line, and as a group you can attack any other bunch at any time.

In a handicap event there is a clear expectation that everyone who can, should do their share of turns. Even if you are a sprinter thinking of the win, you should still try to do your fair share of the work, so as you can ethically sprint, it’s a team event remember.

Being part of a well-functioning group in a handicap race where everyone is sharing the workload, aiming to close the gap to the group ahead while working hard to stay ahead of chasers behind, can be an exciting and satisfying experience. The focus should be on getting your group working together properly and sometimes if one or two back off a little the group will actually go quicker.

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