– By Chris Carmichael
Sprinting is one of the essences of cycling, for racers and recreational riders alike, but it’s often neglected in training programmes. Even Lance had to work on sprinting.
There are two primary components to a powerful sprint – acceleration and top-end speed. But don’t think of sprint training as useful only at the finish line. It’s also critical for bridging gaps, initiating breakaways and even attacking short climbs or accelerating out of turns.
It can also save your hide: in my 30 plus years on a bike, a reasonably quick sprint has saved me from being caught by dogs and hit by drivers ignoring red lights at least as many times as it helped me win races. Here are two simple workouts you can use to power up your sprint.
These workouts are easy to incorporate into regular endurance rides, and are fun to add to rides with a friend or two. Sneak them in just twice a week, and soon you’ll notice that when the hammer drops, you’re half a wheel faster – or more. And that can make all the difference.
Start Like A Rocket
A quick and powerful acceleration snaps rivals off your rear wheel. When you master this initial part of the sprint, you will be able to instantly open up a one- to two-bike length gap to the pack behind you, which is quite a head start.
The key is speed. Accelerations, or sets of three 15-second sprints at a variety of different resistance levels, which will help you develop the agility, power and technique necessary to ramp up your speed on any terrain. You’ll be able to accelerate from a slow speed on a climb, from high speed on a descent and at the finish line – all in the same day. Beginners do two sets, intermediates do three, and advanced riders should be able to complete four. Allow three to five minutes easy recovery spinning between sprints, and 10 minutes between sets.
Shift your gears to the small chainring and 16-17 cog. Roll at 16-20kph with your hands in the drops. Jump out of the saddle and sprint. You’ll spin out the gear quickly. Then, sit down and focus on keeping your cadence high to the finish.
Same as Sprint 1, but in the big chainring and 16-17 cog.
Same as Sprint 1, but in the big chainring and 14-15 cog.