You’ve probably been in the situation during a race where everyone keeps stealing the wheel you were sitting comfortably behind. As this happens again and again until the next thing you know you’re at the back of the bunch. If you’re not that guy moving up wheel by wheel then you’re not going to keep a decent position in the pack. Since there’s a constant flow of people moving up in the pack, you’re position is never static. Even if you keep the wheel you’re sitting on, you’re still effectively moving backwards in the peloton. It takes some confidence and skill but once you master how to move up in the pack, it’ll save you a lot of energy and allow you to be in a better position. Robbie McEwen has mastered this art and calls it “surfing the peloton.”
One thing that works well when moving through a tight bunch that you need to manoeuvre past is by gently putting the back of your hand on the hip of the guy in front of you who is blocking your path to let him know you’re there and coming through. Most of the time the guy will move over and let you keep rolling up through the pack no problems. Don’t do it aggressively (or TOO GENTLY – he may get the wrong idea!). This is only one of many maneuvers you can use to move your way up through the pack. Its one of the easiest and most polite strategies.