Sprint to Win
Sprinting is often an area of cycling that riders either relish or shy away from.
aerobic fitness. Once you have addressed some base training you can start to train your sprints. Start with high-resistance sprint work to address strength and power. Start at a slower speed, under 10 kph, in your big ring and the smaller cogs on the rear cassette. Then stand up and explode on the pedals. Don’t shift, muscle the bike up to speed by accelerating against the resistance. Hold this effort for 8-10 seconds. Take at least 5 minutes to make sure to recover fully between each acceleration. Complete 3-12 of these sprints per ride, twice a week, over the course of 2-3 weeks.
Once you have worked on the strength for sprints it is time to move to more traditional sprint workouts. This workout is shooting to simulate what you may experience in a race. That is, a short burst of acceleration, then a short period where the sprint effort levels off, and then a final surge to the line. Start on a flat road and attack hard out of the saddle for 5-7 seconds to get the bike up to speed, then sit again and try to maintain that high speed for 5-7 seconds. Then in the final 5-7 seconds of the sprint, attack again! Work up to 3-5 sprints like this, each about 15-20 seconds long. Make sure to get full recovery of 5 minutes between each sprint.
One final workout you can add to your routine to improve your top end speed is to find a road with a downhill that transitions to flat ground. Use the downhill to build up your speed so you can start the sprint from 40-45 kph or faster. Between 100-200 meters from the bottom of the hill, jump hard and accelerate out of the saddle. As you transition onto flat ground, sit down and aim to keep your speed and cadence high for the remainder of the sprint. This is one of the best ways to simulate high-speed sprint finishes when you don’t have the benefit of a leadout or charging field of riders. These will be a bit longer than the other sprints, 15-25 seconds long. Complete 1-3 of these sprints with at least 10 minutes between each one.
Depending on the time of year and your goals for the upcoming season; sprints can be worked on throughout the season. Use the high-gear, low-start-speed sprint workouts in the winter. Start to transition to the other workouts as the spring approaches and racing begins. As you move toward your goal event make sure to take more rest between sprints. Use them only to fine tune your skills, not to hurt yourself physically.
Everyone can learn to sprint, it just takes some work! Happy Sprinting!
Colin Izzard is a Pro Coach for Carmichael Training Systems, Inc. (CTS) who thoroughly enjoys helping cyclists sprint to victory in amateur to elite level competitions. To find out what CTS can do for you, visit www.trainright.com.