If you have ever wondered how Tour de France riders such as Tyler Farrar and Mark Cavendish sprint so fast you’re not alone. Sprinting is largely a natural talent. Many cyclists figure out early on if they have the genetic goods needed to beat other riders to the line. Everyone has some combination of fast and slow twitch muscle fibers. Natural sprinters typically have more of these fast twitch muscle fibers. Even if you don’t have the genetic makeup of a natural sprinter, there are ways you can improve your sprinting speed.
A good way to improve your explosive
power is to do 10 second sprints starting
from a relatively low speed. You can pick a landmark like a mailbox or road sign as your target. You just need to gauge the distance to your target to be about 200 meters. Begin with two sprints each in a small gear like 39 tooth small ring and 19 tooth rear cog. You will spin out of this gear quickly but just spin as fast as you can to the line. Allow for 1-2 minutes recovery between each sprint. Repeat two more sets of these sprints in 39 x 17 cog and 39 x 15 cog respectively. Allow a few minutes recovery after these sets before repeating again in the big front ring with the same rear cog combinations (53 x 19, 53 x 17, 53 x 15). Varying the starting gear size of you sprint will help you to develop power and speed for different sprint senarios you will find in racing. You also need to keep your body steady and try to keep a straight line while spinning so fast. You will know that you are fast if you can do this on 53 x 11. This will take some time.
Perhaps one of the most effective ways to develop top-end speed and power is motor pacing. Motor pacing involves riding behind a car or scooter at speeds of 25-40 mph. Depending on your level, find a speed that is fast enough to make it a challenge to keep pace but slow enough to be able to sprint around the car or scooter. First warm up for about 30 minutes riding on your own. Then begin motor pacing at your desired speed. After 5 minutes or so of riding make a 10-15 second sprint around the car/scooter. Have your driver keep the speed steady and not slow down as you pass. Once you have cleared the car/scooter contiue sprinting until exhaustion. Recover by riding slowly for 4-5 minutes behind the car before repeating. 5-10 of these efforts will make for a great sprint workout. Please note that motor pacing can be very dangerous. Find a location like a business park that has very little traffic and find someone to drive who has experience in motor pacing.
Finding a nice sized hill to practice sprints will help to develop overall power. Aim for four to eight efforts of 10-30 seconds (build to the top end as your ﬁtness improves) of seated maximal efforts. These efforts should ideally be done in a bigger gear, and have 4-5 minutes of light riding for full recovery between each one. To allow for ﬁtness development, ﬁnd a hill where you’re able to have a fast rolling start. You can then progress to a slower start to the effort, or even a standing start.
It is good to try to incorperate one sprint workout/ride per week into your training program. For variety you can try a different type workout on your weekly sprint ride. Not too many of us will ever be able to sprint like the pros at the Tour de France. However, with some specific sprint workouts like the ones listed here you can improve your overall sprinting speed and power. Finding a fast bike doesn’t hurt either. You can find a fast bike at a decent price at a website like http://www.slickbikes.com/.