Nail Your Position
While tactics are learned with experience, one principle that does not change is where you position yourself in the pack. Being “near the front” but not “on the front” is the sweet spot. This will keep you safer, allow quicker reactions to attacks and limit stressful accelerations out of every turn.
The key to good positioning is getting there first. This might require a good start or crafty bike-handling skills, but for most, it simply takes a hard effort to get to the top 10. Once you’re there, maintaining that position also takes some effort, but as you learn the flow of the race, keeping it should take less and less energy. You will become smarter and smoother about surfing the “peloton rotation.” This is the way I describe maintaining position when everyone in the field wants to be in the front. You can “surf” on the outside of the peloton by constantly passing people as you start to feel pressure of being passed (the wave). This works best from the outside, so you can pass the riders in front of you as riders come up on your outside. It requires good pack awareness and a keen sense of people coming up from behind. If you can manage to concentrate the entire time, you can master this skill.