Lots of people will tell you to move up in a race, often if you need to move up, it is easier said than done. And if you find yourself at the back of the pack in a tight or very fast crit, then it can seem nearly impossible. But with a few techniques you can save more momentum in the turns which can save more energy and will make moving up easier.
Momentum As you ride towards the turn the back of the pack is going to slow down going into the turn, make the turn, then accelerate to get back up to the speed of the leaders. 3 things here:
A) if you are maxed out, you may need a break from the accelerations. If you are at the back or close to it, you can often ride at a much steadier pace if you are slightly off the back of the other riders before the turns. By being solo off the back you will not be subjected to as much slowing and accelerating of the pack and thus you maybe able to maintain a much steadier pace along the course. It is best to have a gap going into the turn, then gain the ground back up while coming out of the turn. Of course, it is important to maintain contact with the group on the long straights, but you can sit-up sooner before everyone else and not brake as much (if at all) before the turn. Your average speed will be similar to the groups, but you will not have the fatigue causing changes of pace that the back of the group has.
B) you know that the group is accelerating back up to the leaders then will slow down again. If you don’t accelerate as much, you may loose spaces if other cyclist can get around you, but you have better chance to stay with the group. You don’t always have to put out an intense effort to stay with the pack, but you must be strong and talented to move up through the field later in the race.
C) if you don’t slow down as much going into the turn, you will not have to accelerate back up to speed as much. Trick? Yes, and I love to use it! Just before everyone is setting up to go into a turn, I will start coasting a little sooner than the others, I time it so that just before I start to lean the bike, I will pedal 2-4 times, then turn – the result is I started my acceleration before going into the turn, I carry the speed through the turn. Now when I am coming out of the turn I do not have to accelerate as hard as the person ahead of me.
Want some beginner pointers on crit racing, see my post on riding a crit
Some cyclists going into a turn, will take the chance of going up the inside of the corner, attempt to find a spot to make the turn with the group to gain spots. I do not like nor recommend this approach. Yes, it works for some riders sometimes, but when it goes wrong, it is very bad, and people with road rash get very angry.