In our previous article on sprinting like a pro, I covered when training for sprinting usually begins in a periodized training cycle and when it was best utilized to meet performance goals. I also stated in the last article that it was the last article. It’s not, this is the last article. In this article, I am going to cover the mechanics of a sprint, places to sprint, where sprints are a waste of time, and the timing of the execution of a devastating sprint.
The mechanics of an individual sprint
Winning sprints always look like the below list and will come at the end of the race or group ride or designated town signs. Sprints are quiet affairs and require the rider to check out and go on pure animal instinct.
- Head down Eyes Up
- Mouth wide open
- Hands in the drops with index fingers on the shifters
- Elbows bent
- Shoulders dropped
- Back FLAT
- In a gear that allows you to explode out of the saddle but still have room to click up
- But out of the saddle
- Throwing the bike back in forth in concert with every explosive downward stroke
Places to sprint
As stated above sprints happen at the end of a race or for county sign bragging rights. This doesn’t mean that any old spot in the road makes for a good sprinting line.
- When sprinting with a tailwind get big and go to the safest part of the middle of the road.
- When sprinting into a crosswind from the left go as far to the right as you can and vice versa
- When sprinting into a headwind, start your sprint as late as possible and do it from a hiding position from a teammate or competitor when there is no lead out.
- When racing with inexperienced racers or in large fields the main group or sprint contenders may need to attack with 2-3 laps to go in a crit or in the last 5 miles of a road race in an effort to think out the bunch sprint.
- To keep your handlebars from getting hooked in a sprint you may need to move your hands farther into the drops and keep your elbows out.
- Look out for those that worked the hardest in the race and managed to make it to the bunch sprint they often do not have the gas to finish. You can use these individuals as stepping-stones or wind blocks as you progress through the bunch just don’t get stuck behind the dead and dying sprinters as they will slow you down or worse yet cause you to hit the deck.
Where you are wasting your time sprinting
As stated above the logical place to sprint is at the end of a race or at designated county line signs. Anything else is an attack! Do you know the difference between a sprint and an attack? Attacks should be very short bursts of acceleration and power meant to split groups and get away from competitors. Sprints are an all-out gut-wrenching affair. There is nothing left after a sprint!
- Sprinting X miles away from the finish when you have 5 or more competitors with you, the odds are not in your favor
- Sprinting down a hill to make up time lost on a climb
- Sprinting from 30th place to contest 29th place
- Sprinting into a headwind with no one to break the wind for you
- Sprinting across the double yellow line on an open course
- Sprinting up any climb unless the finish line is on the climb or at the top
The timing of a sprint
- Setting up a sprint and delivering it has as much to do with your explosive power as the timing, placement, and execution of the sprint.
- Great winning sprints often happen from the shadows and unseen
- Even if can’t hide you have to pick a competitor or object as your target to sprint past, through, or around
- We do not sprint to finish lines but through them
- When you have positioned yourself for the sprint give yourself room behind the competitor you want to get around and jump out of the saddle and take a run at their back wheel and with just inches to spare come around their slipstream and DO NOT LOOK BACK!
- When you are at the line you now need to throw your bike
- While sprinting full force you will pull on your bars so that your saddle goes behind you behind you
- Then you need to push the handlebars forward hard to move your bike forward in an explosive fluid motion all while still sprinting
- Do not forget that there are many sprinters still behind you and to not make an abrupt line change after you cross the finish line as you will cause a pileup
Sounds easy right?
Practice, practice, and practice more. Sprint training doesn’t have to be some super calculated boring process. Adding a sprint or two to the end of your training rides in the spring and summer will go a long way to helping you find your own sprinting form. Late in the winter and early in spring you can go out complete several form sprints in a longer ride. The form sprint is at half power of your regular sprint. You do these on varying terrain and road conditions to learn what kind of conditions you are comfortable with and those that you are not comfortable with. You can also practice sprinting with ridding buddies and disciplined group rides. Just make sure everyone knows what the rules are and what signs you’re sprinting to. Trust me if you don’t there are going to be arguments regarding bragging rights.
Train Smarter Not Harder,
I am a average rider at best but I love to sprint! If I can hang on to the group to the end even at my age I’m a force to be reckoned with. Great article!