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.
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