Sprinting

Knowing the situation

One thing for sure in a Crit:  There will be a sprint (unless you have soloed in for the win).  The finishing sprint should never be a surprise if you have been paying attention.  Most races are either a fixed number of laps or fixed time plus X number of laps.  Then with one to go the officials ring a bell.  When you are at the starting line, you need to listen to the officials/announcer to clearly understand how the races will be counted or timed.  You need to understand what the lap cards will be showing, i.e. counting up in minutes and then down in laps, or counting down laps.  Then you need to pay attention during the race to monitor how many minutes or laps are left.

Thinking and Mentally Preparing

During the race, you need to thinking about how you are going win.  You win by focusing on the last corner.  You need to study the wind direction and strength on the finishing straightaway, how far away is the finish from the last corner, how fast can the last corner be taken (critical for the rain or tight corners), what is the best line through the last corner, is the finish flat or uphill, where is the finish line, etc…  It is helpful to watch the finish from the race before yours from the last corner to see what happens in the sprint.

Preparing for the Sprint

As the race nears around 10 minutes to go, you need to get into the top 10.  It is important to get into position early so that you are rested and ready to go.  As the race gets closer to the end, many racers will be attempting to move up, so you need to make sure that you don’t get boxed in and end up 20 places back.  You will need to be fighting for positions and working hard to maintain your position.  It is much less effort if you are holding your position rather than having to sprint to get up front.

Last few laps

If there is going to be a lead out, the sprinter teams will be attempting to keep the pace high so that there sprinter stays in position for the last corner.  The faster the leadout train, the hard it will be for people to move up and take over the key spots for the last corner.  If there is not a leadout train, then there will be guys attacking for a solo win which will make for a frantic and changing pace.  It will also happen, that pace slows as the race hits two to go.  Clearly the race will be a sprint, and everyone is up front, but they don’t want to go yet, then the surges can happen.  You must remember that you are racing for the last corner positioning . 

Last lap

During the last lap, the pace will be higher then it was for the whole race.  Everyone will be fighting to hang on or move up.  The race for you is for fight for your key position around the last corner.  You need to be in position a few laps ago to set up your fight for the last corner.  The fight will happen with the second to last corner, i.e. fighting for position does not mean that you pull the field around for the last lap.

Last corner

You should know and be in position for the last corner going into the corner.  Did you want to be in first place around the last corner or some other place?  If the sprint is long or there is headwind, you will want to be 3-4 around the last corner.  If the finish line is close to the last corner or there is a tailwind, you will want to be one or two at the last corner.

If you have raced the last lap well and you are in a good position for the last corner, then you need to get out of the saddle and sprint!!! 

Ride Hard,

Steve

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