Pushing & Headbutting in Races

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I’ve been head butted 3 times in my life, if my memory serves me correctly. Once by Greg Henderson, who now rides for Lotto-Belisol, when doing a race on the south island of New Zealand. It was on a climb and I guess he thought I was on “his” wheel. Then next time was by Dan Schmatz during the labor day races in St. Louis. He was on John Puffer’s wheel, with 1/2 a lap to go and when the line swung and I happened to be on John’s wheel, Dan didn’t like it. Then, a month or so ago at Joe Martin, I was head butted by Travis McCabe, Smartstop, at the end of the Hogeye road race about 800 meters from the finish.

So, only 3 times, but I’ve witnessed it a ton. During nearly every NRC criterium I am in. I watched Hilton Clarke and Brad Huff lock into a head butting war at the top of the hill during the Saturday night race at Tulsa Tough a couple years ago. Actually, I’d have to say, if I think about it, Hilton Clarke seems to do more head butting than anyone I’ve personally witnessed.

Head butting is just an elevation of contact, which would usually start as elbowing. I’ve been elbowed tons of times. Then there is just pushing the hip. It is constant now and happens routinely. And nearly every time it has been in the last 10 years.

It all bugs the shit out of me. I was taught, when I started racing, that contact is something to be avoided at all times. It is pretty much the worst infraction that could occur during a race. No one would touch another rider on purpose.

I watched the video below and have a very hard time understanding how our sport has “evolved” to the point where we allow riders to take their hands off the bars and push other riders out of the way. I don’t give a shit if John Degenkolb, the Giant/Shimano star of the video, is trying to stay on his leadout train. Sorry John, but your guys weren’t taking you into account, or weren’t willing to just go out into the wind and ride, so they kept leaving you behind. You kept losing your team mate’s wheel, so you push guys out of the way to move back up? He wasn’t really hand slinging anyone, but he is definitely pushing them to get out of his way. I’m pretty sure that isn’t how it is “supposed” to work.

One of the coolest things about the sport is the movement within the pack. It is a beautiful thing. And one of the things to be admired is to watch a rider move up through the field and stay in great position for the finish. Doing it by pushing guys around takes no skill, no talent at all. Plus it is super dangerous. I have no tolerance for it.

Something has to be done about this whole “physical” sprinting. Too many guys are hitting the pavement on a daily basis. You notice that John is already all wrapped up with gauze in the video.

I don’t think that these guys understand the cause and effect of moving riders by pushing. They aren’t only pushing one guy, they really are pushing everyone on the other side of that rider. When riders stop the schooling movement of the field, then bike racing doesn’t work, thus guys fall.

This happens all the time in the finish of many races I’m in. It seems to be accepted. It shouldn’t be. I’m not exactly sure what specific rule it is breaking, but it is against the rules. But a rule isn’t a rule unless it is enforced. And no one enforces this. Renshaw was kicked out of the Tour one year for head butting, but he was so blatant about it that the officials didn’t have any other choice.

With more and more cameras in the races, I’d hope to see these actions stop. But, I don’t think so. Below the video below, inCycleTV puts the caption, “Here onbaord cameras give us a whole new dimension to the final exhilarating moments of stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse.”

I don’t think it is exhilarating. And it’s not a new dimension. It is the same new bullshit. Officials obviously aren’t addressing the problem. If riders allow this to continue, then it will continue. We need to change it.

Mark Renshaw in the Tour.

Mark Renshaw in the Tour.

59 thoughts on “Pushing & Headbutting in Races

  1. Bill Laudien

    Totally agree !

    A rider should never take his hands off the bars in tight quarters, especially to push another rider. Its unsafe for the sheer fact that the bike is being controlled with one hand and during contact.

    Its dumb and only goes to show that you don’t know how to properly position yourself nor control your bike.

  2. Andrew

    I’m with you, Steve. In the several videos that Giant-Shimano have released of this type of shot, John has done this at least twice. In the ToC video, he says GO AWAY like Freddy is really bugging him or something. The beautiful chaos does not need any added rider contact in the closing kms of a race. As you point out, that small push can end up putting others on the ground.

    So do these videos just serve up the notion that WT sprinters are assholes in final kms, and thus, it’s fine for me to do it in my local crits? I sure hope not.

    1. Stu

      Yes. Proper etiquette is now to start yelling “GO! GO! GO!” and to push that asshole middle aged Cat4 guy into the ditch.

  3. spinner

    I was grabbed and pushed more while racing in Canada than anywhere else in the world. Sprinting with another rider handing onto one’s jersey is not recommended….

  4. Stu

    Seems no different than other profession. The assholes and those willing to break the rules rise to the very top of the game.

    But I don’t seem to understand why Giant-Shimano is releasing these videos – not a great look for their team. And why are they only releasing certain ones? Are we missing out on WORSE behavior from Degenkolb? He seems to be the main asshole in most of these sprints. I don’t really see Cavendish or Sagan yelling at people or being overly touchy and aggressive. Sagan seems to use his power and handling skills to move up in corners or in tight sections. The way Sagan takes corners makes my butthole clench. Degenkolb seems to move around with hand pushing and elbows. And can a few more people yell “GO! GO! GO!”? I don’t think there is enough of that going on.

    Full disclosure – these comments are from a has-been slow cat 3.

  5. Randy

    The rule (a least the USAC rule) is “1N9. Pushing or pulling among riders is prohibited in all races except the Madison and then only between members of the same team. No rider may hold back or pull an opponent by any part of his or her clothing, equipment or body.”

    1. channel_zero

      Haha.

      You expect USAC to enforce the rules? They are too busy finding the next Armstrong.

      That’s not a dig at every race official ever. Just that the federation itself has no interest in enforcing rules that don’t cost them money either through insurance or lawsuits.

  6. david falkowski

    This occurred last weekend in the Cat 5 race of the NC State Road Race Championships. These entry level racers are learning this shit from watching the pros. The crash caused by this elbow resulted in four completely demolished bikes, two broken arms, two broken collarbones, plus lots of other bike/component damage, as well as lost skin and numerous stitches………..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7b7p-GBUEyA

    Another view:

    1. wheelman61

      Any word in regards to penalties or a DQ that might have been applies to the elbower?

    2. Robo

      Somewhat off topic, but is this really a Cat 5 race? I see a lot of Pinarello and Zipps for a “beginner” race. I firmly believe that as a Cat 5, I need to learn more about tactics and spend more time developing my engine. Also, there’s more risk of crash and damage in Cat 5, so why put all that money at risk? Don’t mistake me: I love high zoot stuff. But for now I love beating guys on my steel frame more.

      1. david falkowski

        Yep, def a Cat 5. i’m with you tho’. I’d be riding a disposable aluminum bike in those races. My high zoot bike IS steel.

    3. foodog

      Reading the utube comments, I agree with the one who stated the guy using the elbow was simply protecting his bars. The idiot that goes down clearly put his head down. veered into the guy passing on his left and was taken out by a slight bump. No DQ unless you DQ the dumbass who can’t ride his bike.

      1. Quincy

        Wrong. The elbow was intentional. He threw a couple elbows even before the final one that contacted the fallen rider. Read below for what happened before the elbow. He deserves a beat down by everyone.

      2. Bud

        “Protecting his bars” is utter nonsense. The guy on the left comes from the front rider’s blind spot and bangs his elbow, catching him by surprise and taking him down, and then a bunch of others. I almost think you must be the cyclist on the left defending his own idiotic behavior, but who knows – maybe you’re just another guy who pulls the same crap. But, my friend, you sound just like the dump-truck driver who just killed the cyclist telling the cops, “he just veered in front of me.” Front rider was riding a straight line and passing rider could have come around with room to spare. Your comment is really, truly, shameful.

      3. Tagger

        Hey foodog,

        The Cat 5 Bible:
        - I’m a Cat 5. My only mission is to have some fun and get to work healthy Monday morning. I owe that to the people I love and support, and to myself. Ride wide and ride safe.
        - I’m a Cat 5. I’ll never ride a race that’s remotely elite. Any real drama is only in my own imagination.
        - I’m a Cat 5. If I spend tens of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours truing to make it all the way to Cat 3, nobody gives a shit.
        - I’m a Cat 5. I’m the equivalent of a 25-handicap golfer. I’m the RBI leader in the church softball league on Sundays mornings. I’m the guy who ran the Boston Marathon in 3:45. I’m the beer-league hockey player who has a better snapshot than my fat buddies.
        - I’m a Cat 5. “Protecting my bars” is a childish echo of some pro I saw being interviewed by Phil Liggett in July. I’m no colder to that world than Little Jimmy Jones to Han Solo.
        - I’m a Cat 5. I’m a guy who reads the VeloNews and read last week about how a masters racer in Colorado Springs died on the velodrome after being hooked by another rider. I read about how this guy’s young daughter stood there watched him die of his head injury.
        - I’m a Cat 5. I should use my goddamned noggin and never defend a rider who could have pumped his legs a little harder and come around the rider ahead go him by giving him plenty of room. If I can’t ride wide with room to spare, I need to give up those Cat 4 dreams.
        - I’m a Cat 5. I should be ashamed of nitpicking “technique” and “strategy” when some people just trying to ride bikes on a summer afternoon end up badly hurt. I’ll never ever ever be a Cat 1 rider, but everyone can at least attempt to be a Cat 1 human being.

    4. Tom

      The guy on the camera bike doing the invisible aero bar nonsense in the middle of a Cat 5 race should be banned as well. High risk, little reward behavior.

    5. JV

      I see the cat 5′s are also learning the “no hands” technique from the pro’s… forearms on top of bars. Why in the world would a cat 5 be doing that. Any chance “shit” like this contributed to the crash?

  7. david falkowski

    The first link shows the elbow in slow motion. The second is from the perspective of a different rider.

  8. Rich W

    That cat 5 crash wasn’t caused by an elbow but by poor riding skills from the guy on the right who crashed. There was plenty of room for the guy to pass on the left but the other guy just couldn’t ride his bike in a straight line. Looks just like a normal cat 5 race. I just don’t see the outrage here…

    1. Steve Tilford Post author

      Rich – You think? Did you not watch the slow motion video on Youtube? At 37 seconds, the guy coming from behind definitely throws an elbow and knocks the other guy down. How can that be the rider that falls fault? I don’t think he even saw it coming.

  9. david falkowski

    Not exactly outraged Rich, just making the point that whatever the pros do, good or bad, is mimicked down the line. I can see how you could make your deduction from the video, but that was not how it was seen from those involved. There had been a lot of words exchanged before the crash and the guy on the left went up front deliberately to throw a ‘bow. I’m sure he was not trying to cause a crash, and I agree a more experienced racer would have stayed upright under the circumstances. Regardless, intentional contact is unacceptable and in this case caused much carnage and expense to those behind the guilty parties.

  10. chris

    Can’t really fault Renshaw since Dean comes over his bars with his elbow, decelerating, apparently leading out… no one. IMHO.

    1. Steve Tilford Post author

      chris-Dean was leading out his team mate, but he went for Cavendish’s wheel when they got hooked up. I think Renshaw got DQ’d 1/2 for the headbutt and half for hooking. You can do one or the other, but not both. At least on TV when it is on video from above.

  11. Ken

    Yes, gotta circle back to Steve’s post a few days ago on quiting racing. Watching those Cat 5′s go down because of someone else’s elbow makes me not miss racing at all. I ride virtually every day, did 7K miles in 2013, and (knock on wood) have not hit the pavement in 18 years – and that happened when my left crank arm snapped. I leave the racing to others!

  12. Christian Davenport

    This as been going on as long as I have known. In the 2000 US Crit Nationals in Downers Grove, leading up to the last corner on the final lap, there was a tussle between two riders near the front that sent the victim to the ground, and the antagonist ended up with an enviable result. I was positioned very well for a top-10 finish, but I had to grab a bunch of brake to avoid the pile-up, and missed out at a rare shot at a top-10 at a national championship. Afterward I approached the antgonist to question his illegal aggressive move, and his reply was that xxxxx was on the wheel he wanted, and he simply did what he had to do to xxxxx to get the wheel.

    I consider the illegal contact in racing today a commentary on the pent-up anger we have as a society. Kind of like road rage or the jerk who needlessly ran over the duck that Steve witnessed awhile back. Or maybe some folks belong in an octagon doing MMA instead of racing a bicycle. I just wonder, away from cycling, are these the kind of people who find it acceptable to beat their children or significant others?

  13. Jeff Burnett

    Sorry but cant agree about there never being a time to take ans off bars and hold youre spot. We all know the tpye of racer that just moves left and right and doesnt bother to look before moving. Cant tell you how many times that if I hadnt put my hand out in those occasions to stop them from moving that they would have swept my front wheel and down I woud have went.

    1. Jim

      Have to disagree… Two examples both from the same weekend of racing at the Tour of Kansas City maybe 8 years ago… Cliff Drive going through some of the turns the field compresses and the rider to my left share the same space – his handlebar is inside mine. If either of us take our hands off the bars one of us goes down and probably 20+ other riders,

      Next day at the Overland Park Criterium going through what I think was a roundabout. Had been going through that section 3 wide the entire race, but one lap, entered that section maybe 5 wide. I am in the center with a rider on each side leaning on me, both yelling at me to “hold my line!” Anyway, we got through that as well no crashes. Anyone tries to make more space for themselves and probably half the field goes down.

  14. Steve Tilford Post author

    Jeff-I have to disagree with you here completely. I have raced 1000′s of races and can only think of a couple times that it might have been better using my hand than my brakes. And that is always after the fact.

    You have to admit that you have a much quicker reaction time tapping your brakes to remove yourself from the situation than taking your hand off the bars, trying to solve the issue by stopping the movement of the rider in front of you. And that is the key word, the guy is in front of you, thus has control over you. That is how it works in our sport.

    You might not even know why the guy is moving over. The guy in front of him, or two riders ahead, might be moving over, thus he has to move. When you put your hand on his hip, you stop that movement. When that stops, then he has nowhere to go but to the ground.

    If the rider is doing it all on his own, then pull your brakes, back out and have a “talk” with him, but don’t put your hands on him. You have much less control of your bike, with only one hand on the bars, and it only adds to the whole issue that could have been easily avoided by just braking a little.

    1. chris

      Seems like everyone in the USCF cat (4)’s (no fives) started doing the “hand on the hip” thing in the early 1990′s after they saw a bunch of eurodogs suddenly doing it in Tour de France broadcasts. I remember reading a column by Davis Phinney on how dangerous and stupid a thing it is to do. Winning Magazine, maybe?

  15. Jeff Burnett

    Racing since 92 myself. Not near as long as you have, but have seen a big change in handling skills in the 20+ yrs of racing. And I am quoting you “When you put your hand on his hip, you stop that movement. When that stops, then he has nowhere to go but to the ground”. Uh – better him than me. And when a crash is happening or in the process of happening I dont care whom started it I just protect myself and myself only.

  16. Jeff Burnett

    Sorry hit the button to soon. Steve – a longtime ago coachs used t take us out into fields and have us practice rubbing wheels at slow speeds in order to learn how to no crash fron that. They would also have us do clse quarter drill by riding with a person a sideand having ose 2 lean into each other, then youoved on to a rider on each sid of us and praciced leanng into them back and forth. We got of on the ubjec of taking hands off of bars , but some have also commented before on the leaning on another rider. SO if a rider in a sprint come up and leans into you are you supposed to brake and back off and just let him have that place in line and more times than not it will save you from being pused into a rider that is beside you on the opposite side. At yourlevel of racingsurely you cant suggest that is just a mater of poor positioning and bad riding skills? 125 guys on crit course like DownersGrove,tight streets only so many places you can go and if someone pushes fo thatspot if you give up that spot you may not see thefront of the race again.

    1. Steve Tilford Post author

      Jeff- I understand the idea that you have to have the skills to be able to handle someone leaning on you in a criterium, but if you are at the front, at the end of Downer’s Grove you already have those skills. I see no reason to go out and try to learn them in a park.

      My observations are that usually when two guys are making contact in a sprint, they are usually going backwards at the end, and not forward. It usually takes way too much energy to engage someone and try to have a successful finish.

  17. Travis McCabe

    Well this is the first time I’ve commented in a comments section before but I would like to address a few issues. First off, Steve I never head butted you. You were approaching on the inside of the road with not enough space to advance. I didn’t know who was moving up on me and therefore I moved over and pushed you out, never taking my hands off the bars but using my bars and elbows to bump you. I am not going to apologize for that. Nothing I did was illegal or considered overly aggressive, ESPECIALLY when you look at how the guys race crits. P.S. I have only raced in one USA crit, which was Winston-Salem, so I don’t think I’ve been doing too many crit races lately, but I regress. There was less than 1km of racing to go and had I of allowed you to encroach on the wheel in front of me (which was my teammates) I would not have won the race. Sorry thats racing at this level. It has taken me years to become comfortable defending my position and learning how to handle my bike and I have to contribute a lot of my success to my confidence.

    Now I do agree to an extent that hands should NOT be taken off bars and you are right, it happens way to frequently in peloton, and I do believe that is because people do not know how to properly handle their bikes and once someone sees a professional racing like that, they tend to copy their actions. But I don’t think that you should never take your hands off the bars, there are many occasions when there is a mutual respect between racers and the guy behind puts his hand on your hip to inform you where he is. It allows us to know who is behind us and where and there is no aggression or negative repercussions from this. There are also times when someone is “boxed” in and for his own reason want to go out into the wind, either to move up or to find a teammate. Putting a hand on one’s hip, or slightly pushing him while telling him your intentions is completely fine with me. Like everything, racing and tactics evolve, sometimes not for the greater good, but you’re right, when it comes down to a sprint finish, you should never take your hands off the bars. If you aren’t good enough to move someone with your hands on the bars, you don’t deserve to sprint.
    Also, sorry I called you an “old man” during the incident, I race with a lot of passion and when events occur I have no filter.

    1. Steve Tilford Post author

      Travis – Nice to hear from you. Okay, I might have to take you off the headbutting list now that you helped clarify it. But, your helmet did touch my body, so it was really close. And we’re going to just have to disagree about who was coming up on who at the end of that race. I talked it over with Eric after the race and was done with it back then.

      I kind of understand where you’re coming from with the hand on the hip deal. But in reality, we really shouldn’t care who is behind us. That is the misconception here. There is always someone behind you, as long as you’re not the last guy in the field. If every single guy that is riding behind you, touched you, it would be constant. The reason that they are touching you is to really tell you that they aren’t comfortable and that they don’t want you to move over. But, in reality, you’re not always in control whether you move over or not a lot of the time. It is the guy in front of you. So, if the guy feels like he isn’t comfortable overlapping your wheel, he should extract himself from the situation. It doesn’t really have anything to do with you. And it doesn’t add to safety him taking one of his hands off his bars.

      I am pretty convinced that this “new” contact sprinting, or following your team mate in the middle of the field, isn’t good for the sport. There are so many more crashes nowadays, especially at the World Tour level, from guys that are just trying to stay in formation, hours from the finish of a race. And it is the trickle down effect. What the Pro’s do, then everyone else does.

      We should try to be avoided contact instead of trying to initiate it. The sport is already dangerous enough without condoning intentional contact.

      And, no problem at the “old man” incident. I understand racing with passion pretty well. And the no filter thing too.

  18. carlosflanders

    Three years ago a bunch of us were brought down in the cat 4 state race in Iowa by two fools who got into a headbutting match over the right to sprint for 6th place. They were copying what they had seen in the Tour.

    My ribs have never been the same, one guy ended in hospital.

    Vids like this scare me – expect it to filter down to the 3s and 4s pretty quick. I recently ran a skills clinic and had to give up on the wheel rubbing and contact skills drills. Not enough participants were willing. I guess they’d prefer to crash in a race than learn how not to crash in a riding clinic.

  19. Bill K

    I have no problem getting a touch on the hip, letting me know not to come over any more. A shove is another story. With a shove, I’ll close the door even more.
    Cat 5′s and 4′s (and many Masters) can’t ride like Professionals. That’s why there are crashes like that when you get contact.
    As for the Cat5 crash, I think that the guy who was passing on the centerline thought that he was going to be forced over the line, so a little elbow would move the guy over. You can’t do that in a Cat 5 race. People often fall down when you touch them..

    1. david falkowski

      If you watch the slow mo’ video, you can see he was flexing his elbow and preparing to strike well before he reached the other rider. As I stated before, words had already been exchanged and this contact was premeditated.

  20. mark - Bici Italia Cycling Tours

    Those on bike cameras sure do give you a new perspective the typical helicopter footage leaves out. the lesson here is that a Pro-Tour field sprint is not for the faint hearted and that style of racing should be left to the guys at the highest level. There is a certain amount of contact that is necessary for a tight pack to move safety but clearly there is a bit more happening in some of those clips. In road cycling, crit racing in particular, your success is partly determined by the skill of the clown(s) riding next to your or in front of you. When you see guys in the local crit practice banging around playing pro wanna-be, best to just get far away and let them live their dream and crash without you.

  21. Skippy

    Watching the World soccer and seeing the total disregard of others with pulling shirts & shoving off the ball , it comes as no surprise that even the World Tour Racers are behaving like THUGS !

    What is achieved when a WT Racer causes a crash ? His Team finish up getting a dose of bad behaviour on a later occasion ?

  22. freddy

    In the Degenkolb video, I only see a professional sprinter directing his leadout guys and doing what he can to achieve a result for his team. It is his job and he is doing it correctly.

    He only touches the other guys on the hips to make them aware that he is coming through and so that they don’t continue to encroach on him and his train. It is important to remember that the camera view mostly shows only the view looking at Degenkolb’s front. If it showed the view that he is seeing, then you would understand why he is reacting in the manner that he is. If you notice, none of the other riders appear to be upset by these actions. He is yelling because he is directing his teammates. In order to communicate during a high speed sprint, you have to yell or you will not be heard. Degenkolb and his team have a right to execute their sprint. If you were to try to horn in on their train, you should expect trouble and you will get it. You have your own teammates and should use them. The pros all know this is how the game is played and they are okay with it. That is why you don’t see GC riders fighting it out at the pointy end during a sprint. The sprints are for the sprinters and their leadouts and to try to encroach on that is dangerous for your health and everyone else’s as well. The sprints are for sprinters. Pro cycling can get dangerous for sure. It is what it is, like it or not.

    As for the cat5 crash, they are beginners and tend to make the mistakes that beginners do. They really do not have the skills to ride in close quarters at top speed and at the limit of their talents and fitness. When there is less oxygen going to the brain, bad decisions will result and crashes will and do occur. It happens in the pros and it happens with alarming and bone breaking frequency in the lower and uncategorized masters ranks. If you want to be safe in cat 3-4-5 races and in uncategorized masters races, then you should learn to break away and ride like Eddie the pitbull is chasing you. If you choose to be a cat 3-4-5 “sprinter”, you should expect to experience more scenes like the videos. Just because a person can pedal his or her bike fast does not necessarily mean they have any intelligence or regard toward others. And yes, amateurs do try to emulate the pros. We all have done that.

    Finally, if you are coming up on the inside going into a turn during a crit and especially during a sprint, you should expect all sorts of bad things to happen. You have put yourself in a very dangerous position and at the least, will be lucky if you don’t get pinched off at the apex. By virtue of making that dive bomb move, you are forcing your will onto others. The entire pack is flowing in one direction and you are trying to go against the grain. You are expecting that they will see you coming from behind and will move over and let you take their spot that they already own. It is not going to happen and you are guilty of a bonehead move. Usually your dive bomb will only succeed in causing a crash, making enemies and making your legs scream in agony as you now have to sprint harder because you are travelling at a slower speed than the guys on your outside. One thing is for sure…you are not going to win because you killed all of your own momentum.

    1. Thomas

      This post sums it up. Those who say otherwise need to pay more attention.

      Is this the Freddy that raced in Europe and may have won big sprint or two in his day?

  23. joepete

    Something I think a lot of people are missing is the sketchy- ass corner after the red kite. I believe this is the corner that Cav crashed on. I’d be less concerned about hands- on- hips and more about kamikaze corners with 300 meters to go.

  24. Bill V.

    I can’t wait to see Degenkolb do that shit to the wrong guy and have to eat a fuckin’ barricade. As good as he thinks he is at that kind of crap, he’s at the mercy of the dude he’s attempting to push out of his way and rest assured he’s to it to the wrong dude on the wrong day, piss him off, and BOOM let’s see you put your career back together after a shattered femur or something worse.

  25. JD

    Bill V, take another read at freddy’s post and if you don’t understand that, I will explain it further. Degenkolb is not pushing anyone. He is merely letting them know that they are moving into his line. They would not be mad, but instead probably thank him for doing so instead of slamming into them. By putting his hand on their hip, he is helping everyone avoid a crash.

    Maybe you haven’t looked at Degenkolb. He is one of the biggest and most intimidating riders in the peloton and there are very few, if any guys that intimidate him. But again, they have no reason to be mad and would most likely congratulate him on another victory. He is known as a very fair and very strong sprint specialist.

  26. Ryan

    that’s why I love Sagan’s racing style. The dude always seems to race smart and stay upright, and he always races clean. At least from what I can see on the feeds.

  27. Steve Tilford Post author

    JD-I have to disagree with your analysis of the video. What I really don’t agree with is your statement that he is “letting them know that they are moving into his line.” They aren’t on “his” line, they are riding their line. And putting your hand on someone’s hip doesn’t claim turf. Most every rider that was up that far in the field at that point of the race had a reason to be there. And I very much doubt anyone would thank him for moving them over from where they were already riding.

    I wrote in my post that Degenkolb wasn’t hand slinging anyone, but his team needs to not be winding through the field, losing him behind other riders. Moving guys out of the way isn’t correct riding, in my opinion.

    He did finish 3rd in the stage, but wasn’t close to the win. (http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/tour-de-suisse-2014/stage-5/photos/310670)

    Like Ryan said above, I didn’t see Sagan or many other riders doing this to position themselves the last kilometer.

    1. JD

      Steve, As anyone who has raced knows, it goes faster and faster toward the finish. If you don’t speed up and ride at the same pace, you will be left behind. Some guys are trying to win that particular stage while others are merely trying to not lose time and others are just trying to stay safe. You can easily see that the guys that Degenkolb touches on the hip are basically going backward while Degenkolb and his train are going forward. Those guys have already lost, but they still have to go fast or they will get hit from the rear. It’s the same in every field sprint. Everyone is moving all over the place because they are at their limits. I still say he is not doing anything wrong and actually is helping everyone avoid a mass pileup. He isn’t pushing them, but is applying a little pressure. If he wanted to push or crash them, then they would have crashed.

      I wasn’t saying that the others would congratulate him for winning that specific stage because I didn’t know where he finished. I just meant that any time he wins a race and he has nudged, bumped or put his hand on the hips of other riders, many of those same riders would congratulate him afterward. That’s because they understand what is going on and they don’t take offense.

      If the cameras were trained on Peter Sagan, you would see a good amount of bumping and touching. A normal amount. But, I am not saying he is a dirty rider at all. I think he is possibly the best rider overall today and he is an awesome bike handler. He makes everything look easy and smooth because he is so good.

  28. Luke

    I race Cat A collegiately and contact was common. I was told to never let someone take a teammates wheel, to tell then off, to take it back. Sprints are chaotic things and there is always that chance of something going wrong. I’d say that professionals have every right to headbutt, push, shove, bump, and bow, cat 5′s should not.

  29. John

    I think part of the problem is the lack of good mentors in the US specifically. When I first started racing in the 80s there was a group of solid cat 1s in Lawrence that had been racing since they were teenagers. It takes a long time to learn this sport…unfortunately, it doesn’t take as long to get really fit.

    It seems like a lot of the 3,4,5 racers have gotten started in their 30s and 40s when they have $7000 to buy a pro tour bike. Some of the guys are incredibly fit, but I enjoyed the style of racing before power meters and gps.

    I had great mentors when I first started. These guys made sure everyone knew the etiquette on group rides. The also warned us about when things would get fast, where to be, and mostly where not to be. They also made sure we knew the way back so I didn’t get lost when dropped.

    Thanks Ron Lathrop and all the other guys on the Lawrence Tuesday Night Rides.

  30. Mark Kerlin

    I was racing this weekend, going into a corner, the field was double file. I was on the wheel on the left. The guy to my right just tried to move over and elbow me off it, despite the fact that he had the right hand wheel all to himself. I’m 190 pounds so I just held my line and there was nothing the guy could do. The whole race he would dive at anyone who rode next to him and try to keep like six feet of space to either side of him. It was really ridiculous. I called him out and he just said fuck off. I never used to see shit like this, having been racing on and off for 25 years. In the old days like 10 people would have called him out, now nobody says anything but me.

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