Cycle Sprinting Tips to Finish Like a Pro
There can be no denying that riding fast is a thrill. We all love the long winding descents like you encounter when you ride Mont Ventoux or Bonette. The wind whips around you, and the road disappears beneath your wheels. This is what riding fast is about.
Sprinting is a slightly different animal as you are providing the power to ride fast. It is a cycling art in of itself. Like all cycling skills, it takes practice. With this in mind, ensure when you practice your sprinting, you are on a quiet stretch of road and take a safety-first approach at all times.
Although we are not about to emulate our cycling heroes, we can still sprint well. What follows are sprinting tips you can put into practice to hit some great speeds on the flat.
Low on the Bars
You have probably seen Tour de France riders low on the bars. The idea here is by going low, they make themselves more aerodynamic(aero). The normal riding position is a little like a sail and you catch the wind slowing you down.
Going low allows the wind to pass over you. Many sprint specialists have a long front end setup letting them get close to the crossbar. To adopt this method, you need to practice, and it is essential you look forwards and not at your cycle computer. Practice gradually going lower over time rather than going low from the get-go.
Going low is a different riding position and rushing into it may cause injury. Practice using quiet roads taking a safety-first approach.
Most road bikes have a 50 x 11 as their largest gear ratio. The pros normally use a 53 x 11. Sprinters, normally opt for 55 x 11 to give them the extra gears for speed.
Of course, to hit a good speed, you’ll have to produce the power on those pedals.
Strength & Endurance Training
We covered several great techniques for improving your cycle strength and endurance training. Check out the following exercises to do on the bike:
- High Intensity Interval Training
- Over Gearing – Riding in a higher gear for a defined length of time.
- Fasted Endurance Training
Most pro sprinters use deeper wheels. Anything less than 40mm won’t do. Deeper wheels are stiffer than stock wheels. This is significant as more of the power you generate through the pedals goes into the road. Deeper wheels tend to be more aero than standard ones.
Many sprinters have the stiffest components possible. Take a glance at a pro’s bike and you’ll see bulky carbon stems. For the bigger rider, stiffer components rather than small weight savings may be the way to go and allow you to produce more speed.
Use Sprinter Shifters
Electronic groupsets such as SRAM and Shimano come with sprinter shifters buttons. You can change the placement of the shifter buttons, giving you more control of the bike. Locating the buttons in a natural place makes gears easier to change at crucial moments, and you can have a full grip on the drops.
Increasingly, aero components and clothing are becoming standard in professional cycling. If you want to do a check on your aero credentials, helmet, jersey, wheels, and handlebars are good starting points.
If some of these measures seem a little off-putting, don’t use them. Just practice sprinting and you will see improvements regardless of whether you have big wheels or electronic gear shifting. If you feel ready to step up and get more serious, then make the changes to make yourself faster.
Sprinting is an aspect we go into on our Early Season Training Camp. Strength, endurance and improving your VO2 max are other aspects that you'll improve. Check it out and give your cycling a boost.
Updated on 14/4/2021