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Top 3 Tips to Sprint Faster

By Sofia Marin | In Optimal Performance, Race Tips | on March 30, 2018

Most races come down to a sprint finish. Whether you’re in a small breakaway or a bunch sprint to the line, honing your sprint technique and timing can make all the difference between standing on that top step or coming away mid-pack.  That’s why we suggest you get to work on your sprint and practice our top 3 tips to become a faster sprinter!

 

1) Experiment with Cadence and Gearing

“Spinning is winning.” Peter Sagan shows off his high-cadence sprint

 

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking a harder gear and lower cadence equates more power. The best sprinters are spinning upwards of 130+ rpm during their sprints. Remember power is the product of force x speed. Both factors matter and you’ll need to work within your particular skillset.

Sprinting at a higher cadence will allow you to accelerate more quickly and get a bigger jump on your competition. The possible downside is that you may need to shift mid-sprint which may cause you to lose momentum, so it’s important to practice shifting while sprinting and make sure your equipment and shifting is 100% dialed on race day.

Power-house Andre Greipel showcases a high-power, lower-cadence sprint

During training rides, practice your sprint at the beginning of the workout when you are freshest. Experiment with gearing and analyze which gear and cadence combination produce the highest power output for you.

 

2) Get Aerodynamic

Caleb Ewan is known for his incredibly low and aerodynamic sprint style

 

Sprints are often won by mere millimeters. This means every little thing like how much bend you have in your elbows or whether you’re wearing an aero skinsuit can make all the difference. Mark Cavendish puts out fewer watts than Andre Greipel, however he wins two-up sprints against the behemoth sprinter. Why is that? In part, Cavendish’s famously aerodynamic and low sprint position means he can cut through the wind with a lower power output. Take video of yourself sprinting and identify where you can get more aerodynamic. Bend your elbows and drop your chest as a cue to get low and close off the wind resistance to your front end.

 

3) Timing

Sprints shown from above: See what happens when a rider goes too early or waits too late

 

What kind of sprinter are you? Sprinting is all about timing, and depending on your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll need to either go early or wait until the very last second to unleash your sprint and give yourself the best possible odds at winning.

If you’re a rider with brute strength but less pop and leg speed, your best bet at winning a sprint is to catch people off guard and go early. You may need to jump with 400+ meters to go, preferably into a technical section to get a natural gap. Conversely, if you’re more of a pure sprinter with excellent explosive power and quick leg speed that fades after a few seconds, you’ll need to wait until the last possible moment to go. This will take patience, aggressive positioning and jumping with just 50 or 100 meters to go.

 

Practice, Practice, Practice

How to improve your sprint by GCN

 

We can’t emphasize this enough. Becoming a great sprinter takes ample practice and trial and error.  Incorporate sprinting as a regular part of your training regimen. Work on producing power while staying in an aerodynamic position. Experiment with gearing and cadence and work on your weaknesses. Find a training partner who can lead you out and allow you to work on your timing. Pro tip: If you’re racing a crit or circuit race with multiple laps through the start-finish line, practice your sprint timing during a prime lap and make the necessary adjustments for the actual race finish.  With plenty of practice and better understanding of what kind of sprinter you are, we’re sure you will see big improvements in your sprinting!

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Header Photo c. factorymedia

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