How to Sprint in a Crit

Like all skills in bike racing and criterium racing, sprinting requires practice!   If you have positioned yourself correctly for the final corner, then you  are ready to sprint for the win!

Timing

  • KEY:  Jump hard when you start your sprint.  You need to get a gap….separation is critical.  You want to make it harder for the other racers to come around you.  If they have to chase you down, then they might not be able to.
  •  If the line is close to the corner, downhill or tailwind, go early.  In this case you want to be 1st or 2nd into the corner.  Hold your speed and pedal through the corner.  Jump as early as you can out of the corner.   You need to use your position through the corner to multiply your gap when you start sprinting.  If you start sprinting while everyone else is still going through the corner you have multiplied your gap, and other racers might not have enough time to close the gap.
  • If the line is far from the corner, uphill, or headwind, go later.  In this case you want to be 3rd or 4th into the corner.  Hold your speed and pedal through the corner.  Stay  super tight on the wheel in front of you.  Anticipate their jump and hold their wheel so that you are in their draft.  Be patient, wait until the line is closer.  Then pick the side with the best wind or path to the line.  Jump HARD.  There will be a line of guys on your wheel waiting to jump also, so you need to get separation from them and you need to go around the guy in front of you in order to win. 

Technique

  • Keep your head up and eyes forward.  Take a straight line.
  • Use your entire body to deliver power to your legs.  Crank on the bars and spin your legs as fast as you can.  Keep you bike moving in a straight line.  If your bike is moving all over the place you are going slower not faster.
  • As you enter the corner, you need to know what gear you want to be in when you stand up to sprint.  You will need to pedal through the corner, so you need to know as you exit the corner are you going to sprint in this gear, down shifting or up shifting.  Your gearing needs to be such that you can spin up the pedals fast and then shift as you accelerate.  
  • Practice shifting while you’re sprinting. This means positioning your right hand on the drops so you can shift as you spin out your gears.
  •  Once you have a gap and are gaining speed you need to focus on keeping the keeping the pedals spinning all of the way past the line.  Don’t stop until you have passed the line.

You need to practice jumping out of the corners, knowing when to stand up, picking the right gear, and sprinting to the line.  Sprinting in bicycle and criterium racing is about getting and holding separation to the line.   

Ride Hard,

Steve