I love riding in cross winds. It is a time when power to weight ratio of the sprinters can really put the hurt onto the climbers.
It is a time when how the break works together can be the difference between survival and getting shelled.
Work too little and you may win, or the break may get caught, Work too hard, and you get shelled.
It is a time when knowing where the draft is can be crucial.
Just watch these professional riders have a tough time staying in contact with the rider in front of them due to the cross wind and the speed of the race.
Notice in this video of the 2012 Tour of Qatar – when Cancellara makes the move, the wind is coming from his right side & so he is on the Left side of the road – this is so that anyone behind him gets as little draft as possible. He is doing this in hopes that they will not be able to hold his pace and he can ride away.
Conversely once Cancellara realizes he isn’t going to be solo and wants some help, he edges to the right, so that the person drafting him has room to find the best draft on Cancellara’s back left.
Also, notice how when there are more people in the break they move to the right – so that the other riders can get a draft and they can all work together to hold the gap.
Quick Tip: Mash a larger gear in a crosswind. This is a great strength builder and when you spin (I generally) feel the need to always change to an easier gear and spin even more. If it is a training ride, try mashing that gear! You may feel tired after the ride, but you will get stronger!