In windy conditions it’s important to know the roads and do your homework on wind direction and slight changes in road direction. This is very important when leaving towns and areas sheltered by trees.
Crosswind RidingThere will be points where everyone knows it will split and really it’s just a bunch sprint for the corner. Remember the world road championships in Doha?
Be on your guard and ride in a position that you can always get to sprint and push the wind if needed. Make the front suffer like hell for 5 minutes and then it will settle down.
Cross wind is three accelerations; two at the front, easy to roll through, and one hard to get back in line at the back of the echelon. The third one is the one you can’t get wrong because you’re at the back of the group.
In the seat power is vital, and anticipating what kind of power you will need. The surges and sprints are so high that you can’t afford to make any mistakes, as most rides only have a few of these high end efforts in them while still recovering at z3 or z4 while swapping off.
You may be moving up the echelon at z3/4 and going through the front at z5 or higher, and then you have to time it just right that you can swing across onto the wheel and not lose momentum. Get it wrong, then you either overlap the wheel or lose one bike length and it takes forever to close, or you may lose contact with the front group.
The sprint or acceleration onto the back of the echelon can be more important depending on the speed of the group. If you are moving at 50-60kmh and get it wrong, it’s good bye. What can be an easy flick onto a wheel, can turn into 10 sec max effort sprint and then you will never recover. If you were to get four or five of these wrong in a row, then you can say good bye to the echelon. This is the worst feeling in the world especially when all the hard work has been done, and it's often simply a lack of concentration.
The tighter the group, the faster it moves. This is why you see sprinters and powerful classic rider guys with big engines and high power in front groups.
You have to be touching the guy in front and always watching 5-10 guys ahead. This is why you always see the most skillful and best bike handlers in the front group. This isn't always possible when on the limit, and that why it is so dangerous.
Team is everything. There are ways a team of good riders can beat the strongest riders in the world, by forcing a gap and keeping things super smooth and looking out for each other with good communication.
From what I have said above you can make your own training, but in the seat accelerations are the key if you have a good base of everything else. Learning to ride really close to the other riders and the wheels in front of you are imperative, and to not be afraid to force yourself into a good spot.
It's always easier to pull through in the echelon, unless you are a master of crosswinds. Even then, you will get caught out once in a while.