The flat stages at Le Tour are all about the sprinters. Sprint finishes look like complete chaos, and you can often get caught out in the carnage, but with the correct skills, you can cross the finish line first.
At club and local races, even some of the most competent riders opt out of the fun because they’re unsure how to handle themselves in the final sprint for the line. Worse, some riders with more confidence than experience jump willy-nilly into the action, endangering everyone. Here’s how to handle yourself in a bar-to-bar finish.
1. Be predictable
On TV, or viewed from the back of an aggressive group, a sprint looks like an anything-goes melee in which the foolhardy triumph. In reality, although you need nerve to execute your plans, good sprinters follow an accepted and predictable choreography that keeps the action as safe as possible. The etiquette can be complex, but most of the lessons can be simplified into one rule: Be smooth. Never perform any erratic manoeuver. For instance, if a line of riders begins passing you, don’t get excited and immediately swing over to try to join it. Instead, quickly glance back before you move to make sure you aren’t riding into someone. Likewise, before you jump out of a line to make a dash for the finish, make sure you have a clear lane – that no one is coming up fast behind you.