A group of racing cyclists functions very differently for safety reasons than a number of individual cyclists

Braking and changing direction
A group of racing cyclists cannot easily brake or change direction. That has to be very gradual in order not to run into each other’s wheels. If cyclists switch from two to two cycles to one behind the other, for example to make more room for passing motorists, it takes a while.

Not tight on the side
Sometimes cyclists do not drive tightly along the roadside, for example because the road there is bad or dirty, or because the speed is high. Then they drive a little further for safety.

Yet on the road, where there is a (non-mandatory) cycle path
Sometimes a group of racing cyclists rides on the road instead of on the cycle path if the latter is not mandatory. For example if there are many pedestrians, city cyclists or children on the cycle path. Or if the cycle path is full of potholes and holes for the narrow road bike tires.

Calling is for own use
A lot is called in groups of cyclists. Cries like “Before”, “Against”, “Behind” are meant for the group members, so that they know what to do.

Gestures for trailing traffic
If a motorist cannot yet see whether he can pass a group of cyclists, but the cyclists can already see that, they sometimes gesticulate to the motorist driving behind them whether he can overtake or not.

Estimating the speed of cyclists is not always easy

Passing a group of racing cyclists who ride 40 km / h or more with the wind in their backs takes more time than a city cyclist who runs 20 km / h or less. If the road is also narrow and unclear, a wrong estimate as a motorist is easily made.

How a motorist can make it easier for cyclists

Show that you have seen the cyclists and take them into account
If you meet a group of cyclists on a narrow road, drive a little slower and a little more to the side of the road.
If you arrive at an intersection where you must give cyclists priority, brake a little earlier and more clearly so that
they are certain that you will stop.

Honking in windless weather is usually unnecessary, with a lot of wind it is sometimes useful. If you are honking, do it well in advance and not when you’re close by.
If a group of cyclists does not use a (non-mandatory) cycle path, but drives on the road, it is usually for a reason. Pointing out with honking that there is a cycle path does not produce anything. Just drive past the group and remember that that is the best way to keep it safe and enjoyable for everyone.

Passing shorter than 1.5 meters sometimes scares cyclists and can be dangerous due to a gust of wind.
A group of racing cyclists overtaking and shortly afterwards strong braking, for example for a road narrowing, means that cyclists have to brake far too hard with the chance that they will run on each other.


If you can sprint well, you can win if you are not the strongest. We also enjoy a sprint every now and then as a recreational cyclist. And as a cycling enthusiast, we look at the sprints of the professionals. Sprinting is a fun game and a profession in its own right. If you have never done it, it is not easy to do it fast, powerful and controlled. It is a separate form of movement that you do not naturally perform well. It’s about speed, explosiveness without blocking your muscles, increasing the range of your cadence. In addition to the technical side, there is also a tactical side to it. Choose position, choose resistance. Timing. In addition, sprinting is also a mentally interesting game. Sprinting is not only fun to do, but there is also much to learn and improve. Also how you as a group on public roads keep it safe and enjoyable for yourself and other road users.



In or out of the saddle

You almost always have to get out of the saddle for a good sprint. Then you can develop more speed because you not only use your legs but also your arms and weight. Right up and down or wagging? Do you jump right up and down?

Erik Zabel image

Or do you use your shoulder belt to create extra leverage? Most top sprinters do the latter.


Compare sprinting on the road with track cycling, where it goes up and down in particular. With a standing start and the fixed, and therefore terribly heavy, resistance at the start, there is no other option. You kick yourself down like this. Explosive and controlled.

The trick is to hit the pedals explosively. And not to get lost or to let your muscles block each other. The greater the range of the cadence that you can handle, the less you have to switch in the meantime.

Photo / video


Aerodynamically you have to sit as deep as possible, but of course keep looking.

Photo Caleb Ewen / Viviani

At higher speeds, the frontal aerodynamics, especially the frontal surface, is more important than the power.

The last jump

Just before the line you push your bike forward. Making your front wheel move 10 – 20 cm forward.


Timing is also important there. Too soon then you lose speed, too late then you don’t get the benefit.

If you can’t do all that well, then remember that for most sprints, such a nice build-up is less important than pedaling as hard as possible for as long as possible.

In a sprint, you mainly use fast power and you don’t have to be too deep in the red. It is nice and interesting to see how sprinters come to a final hill, completely demolished, go down crazy like a madman and if they only have a kilometer to recover they can tap into a (different) pot of energy for the sprint itself. While if they have to sprint in the last kilometer to get in a favorable position at the front, the game is already empty before the actual sprint. The following also applies to us recreational users: saving enough, but certainly not too early. Although it is useful if others drive themselves more empty than you, right? You actually save more to ensure that you can go with all kinds of gears before the sprint, than before the sprint itself.

Who are your opponents?
How are they doing now? Cycling is a strange sport: sometimes you work together and then you don’t. So the question of who you can work with temporarily and who is not willing to do so and who wants to save is just like you, of course. That is having knowledge of the others and a nice negotiating game while driving.

Whose wheel are you sitting in? Someone who responds nice and quickly to a failure, but is not so strong that he just drives you out off the wheel. Can you work with a ‘train’of riders who want to attract the sprint for you? The latter is also a wonderful training form.
Photo / video See …

You want to sit behind someone for as long as possible, but you have to prevent being trapped. If the finish is short on a sharp last corner, it is necessary to go first or maximum second through the corner.

At what time do you get out of the wheel? If you have the wind on your head, you will try to wait longer than if you have a strong wind in your back. In order not to get trapped, you sometimes have to come out of the wheel sooner than you would like. Or vice versa, you sometimes let yourself be passed if you risk leading too early.

Choice of gear
Depending on the wind direction, wind strength and the initial speed in a sprint, you choose a gear before the sprint where you will basically continue to ride the entire sprint. Usually it is one or two teeth heavier than what you ride in the group. If you want to make a difference especially in the first few meters, the resistance will be a bit lighter. Do you want to be able to accelerate further, it is a bit harder.

Deviate from the line, touch each other
When sprinting, it is a necessary skill that you can handle accidentally touching each other so that you do not fall over each other. Lean with shoulders or elbows and especially do not lean away so that the handlebars can hook into each other.
Video Viviani Giro 2019
Video Matthieu van der Poel
Also see ….

The rule is that you do not deviate from your line. But within that rule you can have a more or less straight line which will get someone behind to get stuck, so he has to make a correction, which cost him time en energy. It is a thin line, but clear, practical and safe in practice.
See Viviani 2018

Deception is part of the game. For example, you imagine to be weaker or stronger than you are. It already starts when you skip a turn in the lead-up and are moaning if you want to save. If you come too early in the sprint and you suspect that you are going to stop, you can consciously do that earlier, so that someone behind you will come out of your wheel and therefore in the wind. Then you come with your remonte, your second gear. If you head too early and keep sprinting, the person behind you can wait much longer for you to quiet down and get over you more easily.

Mental: anger in the belly, cool head, warm hart
You can see from the previous that you have to unite conflicting demands in a sprint. To produce the most power you have, you have to evoke anger in yourself. But you also have to check that. In order to properly carry out the bicycle movement, but also to look at opponents and how the situation develops.
See the Greipel train video
And of course to treat each other with care. In addition, leaning with shoulders or elbows or sometimes even with the head against each other ensure safety.
Photo Three together.
Also see:

It naturally requires a lot of skills and it is a vague area between being careful and crossing the border. Then “crooks” are handed out at the expense of another. A good example of how things can be done, NK…. See also: Matthieu vd Poel with explanation

Combining those three demands, generating anger, keeping looking and thinking and taking care of each other requires a lot of practice. And can also good be used in many other situations in life.

For some groups, a sprint is the standard routine at the end of a ride. With other groups it arises spontaneously. Nothing is agreed in advance. Making a rule in advance is of course not so nice because you then have less room for deception. That is a disadvantage of making agreements. There are also advantages to making agreements. You can place the finish line where it is also safe. The last place name sign, which you are traditionally used to sprinting on, may not be as safe anymore.
You can also come up with different forms of finals. You leave single or in pairs from a certain point. The fastest last. So that at least for a longer time there is no big club together. Or you break down a group into several subgroups of the same strength, all of which have their own sprint. The fastest group goes the first way. As a result, even the slow ones get the opportunity to ride a full sprint instead of just being driven off. Of course, deliberately or unconsciously, there is also a lot of deception when making agreements. Someone shouts: “No sprint today, because weak legs, tomorrow race etc etc”. A few hours later there is no sign of this anymore and a final is nevertheless created, which is then less convenient, social and safe than when clear agreements are made and held.
See also: Psychology of cycling See also: Training on the public road

Crash Bardet, Vuelta 2017, stage 16, individual timetrial somewhere in the beginning

The fall of Bardet seems to be caused by a classic mistake: starting to paddle again too early in the bend. The back pressure of the outer leg that was down, falls away with it. There may even be some extra pressure to the outside. Therefore the rear wheel slips sideways.

Crash Froome Vuelta 2017, stage 12

Froome fell twice in stage 12 shortly after each other. The first fall has not been seen. Well the moment after that. Remarkably, after the first fall he takes off his computer, drops his bike etc, all in a rather relaxed manner. And his helpers act quickly but quietly too. There is actually no word needed. Beautiful!
In an interview lateron , Nieve told they to take into account these kinds of incidents and, as it were, already have plans of action for it.

As for the second fall:
Undoubtedly, Froome had a certain amount of stress after his first fall.
The car makes it impossible for him to take the ideal curveline.
As far as the asphalt is concerned, I can not see anything special on my screen.
His steering wheel/handle bars turns too much and beng, he flies over it. Beautiful how Froome rolls on and wants to come back with a bike on his feet. That is, of course, a little too much of good. So click out and just get up again.
Why is his steering wheel/handle bars turning too much? Or maybe more interesting: how can you do that better? That diminish the change of happening this.
Did he pull the breaks of the frontwheel in a slip?
Possibly Froome hung too much with shoulders and knees inward instead of hip / saddle. Thereby the body / bicycle center of gravity, was too much within the contact line wheels-road. And too little pressure on the front wheel  inwards and the wheel could easily slide aside.
See, for example, the fall of Rojas and Darwin Atapuma in crashes.

Wet roads


How to ride on a wet road?
Keep your brakes dry by regularly braking a little bit. Wet rim brakes need some time to get grip. With disc brakes, that’s hardly any problem.
The difference between straight riding and cornering is much bigger than when the road is dry. On straight pieces you can ride as fast as when it is dry. That is scary to some, but it is possible. You need to calculate a much longer brake path for a corner. In a descent this is even more the case.
The bends are a bit slower than in dry weather. You keep your outer leg longer low and start paddling again later and you go out of the saddle later.
Sometimes you don’t ride a corner in one pretty round line, but divide the corner in pieces that go more or less straight (where wet) and rounder (where it is drier).
Take note of the white paint stripes, including the slightly increased stuff, pit covers, train rails and the like. Go over there with a 90 degree angle as far as possible and do not brake there especially.
In general
: Take a greater safety margin than you take under dry conditions.

Wetness is in gradations, whether or not combined with dirt and oil and the like. In addition, it may be different every few meters. As a result, you learn much less what is possible and is not. So on a wet road, you can tune yourself less than on a dry road. In dry conditions, one asphalt is more or less the same as the other. With many hours of riding and slowly increasing the limit, you can learn to get close to the maximum possible speed (in the corners). Under wet conditions, sliding risk may vary considerably. Certainly if it’s a little bit wet there, and somewhere else dry again.
If you drive the same route more often like in a criterion, you can better adjust to the corners. If you get a corner only once, that is not possible.
n wet conditions, therefore, you must ride further under the maximum possible in such conditions than in dry conditions.

Descent Roglic (Tour de France 2017, stage 17)

Strong piece of work by Roglic, his escape and win in one of the toughest stages of the 2017 Tour de France.

Some technical remarks on his descent:  at 1:30

Steering too much from the shoulders, body center of gravity (saddle) too far to the outside. Therefore he is wringing a bit and he is regularly drifting out the curve. It seems that at the end of the curve, he has lost a lot of speed.
Also he takes the corner early, he goes to the inside early, so the corner gets longer/rounder and therefore he comes out too wide.

This despite the fact that the descent of the Galibier is quite easy.

Remarkably, the commentators are talking about ‘fantasic descending skills’ and ‘an absolute terrific decent of the Galibier’. Perhaps it’s a matter of language, they speak more in superlatives. In any case, I do see his decend differently.

Interesting is an interview in which Roglic was asked whether his former career as a ski-jumper had offered him an advantage for descending. Yes, with regards to speed (up to  100 km per hour). But no further was his answer.
For ex-skiers, you often see that their cornering technique on the bicycle seems to benefit from their former carreer.

See also:

Crashes Tour de France 2017 stage 9

Ouch, what a stage! Incredible crashes in the descent! Especially at Col du Chat. Was the road not suitable for descending at high speed while racing at the limit?
For cycling tourists, it is a road where you just won’t go downhill with much pleasure. It’s steep. There’s new asphalt, which is sometimes smoother than old asphalt. A little damp in places. ‘Bumpy’ asphalt which makes corrections more difficult. Very often, no good view of what lies around the corner. When the road is also narrow, it becomes tricky. The pros can assume that they can use the complete width of the road. Cycling tourists cannot. We have to take into account that there may be an obstruction behind the corner so that you have to go slowly or even come to a quick stop. If you can’t easily see through a curve on such a narrow road, you have to hit the brakes well in advance. Very different from a ‘2 cars or more wide’ road, where you can reckon that your side of the road is available. Then you can look much further through the bend as well. A mountain as Col du Chat is very suitable for climbing. Downwards, you actually throw height meters away. See further:Reading the road‘ 

The crash of Richie Porte at about 9 minutes.
What did he do wrong? Was it loss of concentration? Fatigue? Did he chose a wrong line, way too far left, too tight on the inside? Trying to rescue by putting his right leg to the right , where body center of gravity remained on the wrong side? No ‘unfolding’ to make the curve more widespread? More likely an anxiety reflex than a trained correction.
In the Evening Stage on Ducht tv: about 22 minutes of steering analysis and the importance of training steering skills. In Dutch. Not only for the professional but also for cycling tourists.

Wet (Tour de France 2017, 1st stage, time trial)

It was a time trial with wet road and lots of crashes.
1. How do we drive as a recreational cyclist on wet road?
Keep your brakes dry. By regularly braking a very little. Wet rim brakes need some time to get dry and therefore get grip.
The difference between riding straights and cornering is in wet conditions much bigger then when the road is dry.
On straight pieces you can drive as fast as when it is dry. It’s scary to some, but it can be done. You need to calculate a much longer brake path for a turn. In a descent even longer.
In the curves you ride a lot slower than on a dry road. You keep your outer leg longer low and start peddling later and you will get out of the saddle later.
The turns you will usually not ride in one pretty round line, but divide into pieces that go more or less straight, where wet and rounder, where it’s drier.
Pay attention to the white lines, including slightly increased stuff, pit covers, train rails and the like. Go there as much at a 90 grades ankle as possible and do not brake there especially.
Especially: Take a bigger safety margin than you take under dry conditions.

2. Looking at the time trial.
The time trial was largely wet. With many crashes.
Time-trial bikes are made for straight riding, not for cornering. The fastest tires have slightly less grip (and much change on leakage). Those who exercise a lot on TT-bikes have trained much less than on them than on the regular road bike.
Those who go for the day win must ride at the edge. Those who go for the general ranking may take a fraction less risk. The others are allowed to ride a completely safe. That too has not been fully successful.

After a long period of dry weather, asphalt can be much more slippery when wet by the gathered junk than when it has rained often and hard. See the endless sliding of Dylon Groenewegen.  At 1′.30”
On a wet road you can adjust yourself less than on a dry road. In dry conditions, one asphalt road is more or less the same as the other. With a lot of hours riding and slowly increasing the speed, you can learn to get close to the maximum possible cornering speed.
Under wet conditions, the risk of sliding may vary widely. Certainly, if it’s a little bit wet here and somewhere else dry again.
If you ride the same corners more often as in a criterion then you can better adjust to the conditions. If you get a corner only once, you cannot. That’s almost always the case with tours like the Tour de France.
Under wet conditions, therefore, you must ride much more under the maximum possible speed under those conditions than in case of dry conditions.

Crash Conti (Giro 2017, stage 8)

Ouch, what a nasty crash for Conti.

If we look at it from a (steering) technical point, it went wrong when he (already pedalling again) pushes down his pedal at the inside of the corner.
Probably just that bit too much pressure on the inside pedal instead of the outside pedal and so not enough pressure against slipping away. In addition, commentator Flecha suggested that the asphalt was dirty. And you can see two black stripes on the road. Oil, damaged asphalt??

Probably it would have been better to start pedalling again later in the curve and to cross that black part in a more straight line (like wet white lines, tramrails, etc.), to cut the bend into parts.
It looks very like Pinot’s crash in the Tour de France of 2016.

See also: How do you drive corners that are so sharp that you have to keep your legs still?

See also: Cornering





Echelon-coup of Quick Step (Giro 2017, stage 3)

A beautiful stage, with a demonstration of echelon riding in full hectics.


Interesting points:

1. At the right time, only the QS men are in the front positions. That while everyone knew it was going to happen on that section of road and there was a continuous battle for those front positions. Only 3 others including Greipel are up there, too, all others are not. It needs to happen not too early, nor not too late, and it’s within a few seconds that all has to happen. And by all involved.
2. Determining how much space there should be so that your own men can shelter from the wind while the competitors are stuck on the side of the road and so are fully exposed to the wind.
3. Slowing down just enough by the QS men at the front so that their sprinter Gaviria can join (piloted by a team mate).
4. Those skilled proffesionals in encheloning can execute a perfect enchelon at less than full force. At full power they do make small mistakes, but they can correct them easily. For example, Jungels drives a bit too hard. He holds a bit back. Others fill the gap slowly so that the rest can flow smoothly. They have to ride closer to the windward side of the road. So, at full force there are constantly corrections.
5. They communicate in all the mayham. You see them talking through the radio and you can bet there is a lot of screaming and shouting.
6. Dealing with frustration. At full force, things always go wrong in all the mayham. The other one does not do what you tell him to do. There are deviations from the race line. It’s not going fast enough. X is not included. Etcetera, etcetera. That creates frustration. The natural reaction is what is mentioned in psychology: flight, flight or freeze. You get angry, you shut down (mentally), you cramp up, do not listen well, etc. Not giving in to these emotions, but staying functional, correcting mistakes of yourself and others, that’s the great art of encheloning at full force. Compare the World Championship Team Time Trials in Valkenburg (“I yelled, but he didn’t listen.” So what? Then you yell your louder, pull him by his shirt, whatever is needed.)
Knowing how it should be done is one thing. Doing it at submaximal levels is a skill that is quite easy to practice. Performing on full force and in all the mayham (like taking a penalty at soccer) is mentally much more difficult and requires much more attention and practice.

For the technique of enchelon and pinning the competitors on the side of the road, see a beautiful animation of a stage from the Tour de France: -echelon-how-to-deal-with-a-crosswind_vid817450 / video.shtml

See also: enchelon
About the psychological aspect and group dynamics, see also: psychology of cycling

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