Standing Start Pursuit: 3000 Times, 4000 Times
Pursuits come in a few different flavors, but I am just going to mention the 3k/4k here. The first thing you will notice about pursuits is that it is normally done by two racers at a time versus one, hence the name pursuit. But the basic idea is the same, go faster than you did the last time you did it. For the Men is 14 and 9/10 laps with the start just before either corner one or three. The women, masters and juniors start at the exit of either corner two or four on the apron and go 11 1/6 laps. Both the 4k and 3k finish in the middle of the straights on the red line (called the pursuit line) and on the same side that you started.
The general idea of standing for almost a lap at the start still applies so you should really be practicing this if you want to do well in a standing TT. However your start should be very smooth in a pursuit, as it is way too easy to over do it. Your goal should be to get into a tempo as soon as possible and not freak out too much when you hear that your first full lap is a little fast. But it is not good to go much under one second below your goal split time.
Once you get up to the pursuit distance you really need someone to give you splits if there is not a visible lap clock. The idea is that they will read you two numbers or signal you that are on pace, need to speed up or slow down. If they read a time it is easiest to read the second and the tenth of a second, so a 21.37 would read "One", "Three". They also need to give this info out as you are about 5 to 10 meters away so that you hear it when you go by. I will also use my hand to say "OK", thumb up to tell you to go faster and thumb down to say go slower.
Again there are many ways to race a pursuit, and once again I do not like the negative split idea, it is just too hard to get right. So after a smooth start and a not too fast second lap (one second below target time) you should be maintaining an even split time as long as possible. The only way to know what this time is to go out and ride on the track for a while to warm up and then start picking up the pace. Just keep going and have someone time you for about 10 to 15 laps while riding as close to the black line as you can. You will likely see the times start a little slow hit a peak and then come back down. Look at the times and pick one that felt hard but livable (as close to your peak as you can).
The pursuit is a big mental game like the kilo, but one that lasts more than three to four times as long. So after you settle into your pace you have to try to maintain it. After the halfway mark I start to try to pick it up just to make sure I maintain my speed. It is from lap 7 to 11 that always kill me(4k), I am a sprinter so the last few laps are always a bit easier, but the third kilo is the one I watch out for. Just keep it smooth and don't stand up for the final lap, you should use that energy at about 2 or 3 laps to go to steadily pick up the pace if you have the energy to do so.
One last note, if you find yourself going against someone who is close to you, try not to look. Play your game and go for your best time, the crowd will let you know if you are close and you can feed off of that much better than by looking around. So don't look, just feel the energy from the people around you to give it that little extra to beat you opponent.
- Jamie Mikami