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Ask a pro: Axel Froner on how to catch back on through the caravan

Ask a pro: Axel Froner on how to catch back on through the caravan

CT Giant Store Assen’s Axel Froner admits that the last few years he has spent way too much time in the caravan. That could either be due to crashes, mechanicals, feeding or ill-timed nature breaks. That’s why he firmly believes catching back on is one of the top three most important skills any cyclist needs to know if they want to race higher level races, especially in Europe.

If you have a puncture or mechanical where you can continue to ride, go to the back of the pack and put your hand in the air to call your car forward, he says. “Do not stop until your car is directly behind you, even if this means destroying a rim in the process,” Froner says. “Once your car is behind you slam your brakes on as hard as you can and get off your bike, let the mechanic do his work then remount and get your push back in.”

The first moments of catching back on to the peloton through the caravan

After that, the fun begins. When you’re catching back on, no matter what the reason, it’s a multi-step process.

“Follow the bumper of your team car religiously until you catch the tail end of the caravan. I prefer to ride in the center of the car and look through the rear window to see the road ahead rather than sit on the left side of the car and look around, but that is a preference of how much you trust your director,” he says.

That’s step one. But there’s still a ways to go before you’re safe and sound in the bunch.

When you’re in the actual caravan: leapfrogging the cars

The 22-year-old who is based in the Netherlands says that on flat roads you just need to move forward one car at a time, taking a few seconds on each bumper to gain enough momentum to make it to the next. “On hills you have to pick your own pace. Try to slip back a few cars to save energy if possible instead of staying on the bumper you started with. You will make this up easily on downhills or flats,” the Ontario native advises. “On downhills you have to use slipstream to the maximum. Aim straight for the bumper of cars then swerve at the last moment to use the most speed without pedaling. This will help you move up two to three cars at a time.”

The accordion-like nature of the caravan

The caravan can act like an accordion. The gaps between cars open and close constantly. It’s possible they may also pass you on a descent if there’s no switchbacks. What then?

“Try and use their draft as much as possible as they pass you and wait for the caravan to bunch up so…

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