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  1. #1
    Senior Member Giacomo 1's Avatar
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    Questions About Sprinting...

    Probably a naive question, but it's something I've never seen discussed, so -

    How is a sprinter selected out of a bunch of young riders and how is his training different?

    It seem's like 90% of riders are either climbers, TT riders, GC all-arounder's or spring classic riders, domestiques and so on, and the other 10% or so are the pure sprinters. How does one become a pure sprinter and why are they selected? Are they born or made? Is it wattage at short sprints, body shape, quick twitch muscles, thicker leg muscles, body mass or something else maybe?

    I'm also pretty unfamiliar with how a team trains, except that they put in alot of miles on many types of terrain. So does the sprinter actually practice sprinting or does he just do the same regimen as the rest of the team? If it's different, what does he do?

    Are the contracts as lucrative as say a climber, or about the same? Like would Cav earn as much as a Wiggins or more like a Cancelara?

    I guess I'm just curious about the life of a sprinter, so anything you can add would be most appreciated!
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  2. #2
    starting pistol means war YMCA's Avatar
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    Most of the sprinters don't do specific sprint work, other than jumping off motors, or practice leadouts with the team.
    They are first and foremost, endurance riders.
    Most important is getting to the finish fresh and that requires a big engine, just like all pros.
    Lots of miles and lots of climbing.
    In fact the very best sprinters have been known to put in more hours on the bike than anybody (Cipo and Zabel were examples)

    And the best pure bunch sprinters are the Kings of conservation.
    Their technique in the pack is fantastic, in order that they expend as little energy as possible, before the ramp-up begins in earnest, 10-30k out.

    Sprinter contracts are typically higher than most of the guys, as they usually grab many of the wins for their team over a season.
    Of course, top GC guys make the most.

    And lastly, most road sprinters as we know them, are nothing like a track sprinter.
    The wattage needed to win a road sprint is negligible, compared to 200 meter match sprinters.
    It's more about positioning, skill and top end speed for the last few kilometers.
    They aren't "jumping" from 40kph to 68kph, they are "surging" from 64kph to 68kph.

    Oh and you asked about the young guys?
    Well they were typically good all-arounders as juniors and U-23's, before they realized that sprinting was their game.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Giacomo 1's Avatar
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    Great answer YMCA!

    I had no idea that sprinters do so much mountain work. I would have thought that they would lose to much upper body mass and the thicker leg muscles they usually have. Kind of odd that they do so little actual sprinting to. Sprinters in track and field really do alot of sprinting, and not much else. Agreed about track sprinters being very different. They're acceleration is something else! They're legs are usually huge - think Chris Hoy! It's amazing that their bike can hold up their bulk!

    I guess it would make sense that the sprinters do well financially, being that they bring in alot of wins for the team.

    When exactly did the discipline of specialized sprinting start in cycling anyway?
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    starting pistol means war YMCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo 1 View Post

    When exactly did the discipline of specialized sprinting start in cycling anyway?
    Well I suppose there have always been sprinters that were good at bunch kicks, but most of them were also good overall (think Maertens in the 70's, Kelly in the 80's, etc...)

    But not until the 90's did we start seeing true sprinter trains (think Cipo and the Red Train)

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    Senior Member Giacomo 1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YMCA View Post
    But not until the 90's did we start seeing true sprinter trains (think Cipo and the Red Train)
    Yeah, that's what I was looking for.

    I have to believe that Cavendish had the best leadout ever when he rode for HTC. No stopping that freight train! At least the best I can remember.

    I look at Cav, and I don't see a sprinter. Short upper torso with short legs is not what one visualizes when you think sprinter, but there is no denying his greatness at the discipline. Even without HTC's great leadout, he keeps winning. Do you think he is the greatest pure sprinter?
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    starting pistol means war YMCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo 1 View Post
    I have to believe that Cavendish had the best leadout ever when he rode for HTC.
    agreed

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    I knew I was athletic when I was a child, but could not understand why I would lose in a 60meter race against other people, such as Suzie Wilkinson - a girl who did no sports.

    From then I figured out my body was more suited to long endurance type efforts then fast short bursts. Chris Hoy, Usain bolt are pure sprinters, road cycling sprinters have to find a balance between pure sprinter and endurance cyclist. Cavendish has combined the two by trainning hard to survive the mountains, not being too large like a track cyclist/classic spinter (cipollini), keeping an area dynamic position in his sprints to get the most speed from the power he can give. I think he has revolutionized sprinting in a way that bolt has done on the track. Bolt is saying you can be tall and start fast then go faster, cavendish is saying you can be small to get over mountinas and then accelerate faster in the sprint

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    starting pistol means war YMCA's Avatar
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    Cav's best gift is his "nose" for the line.
    His actual sprint power is jack compared to many other sprinters.
    His aero style doesn't hurt much either

  9. #9
    Senior Member Giacomo 1's Avatar
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    In Cav's book, he talks about being able to give a sort of double sprint for the line. Turn it on, then turn it on even harder. He also mentions how hard it was to get trainers and coaches to believe he was truly a sprinter. His wattage was low and his body style just didn't measure up, but obviously he is truly a sprinter!

    I think I really marvel at the bike handling skills of the sprinters. Watching them come to the line at full effort can be both exciting and terrifying to watch at the same time. Watching some of Farrar's accidents last season was pretty scary. Alot of room for serious injury. Greipel's style appears to be the wildest to me, with elbows flying and bike almost violently swaying back and forth. Great stuff though...
    Last edited by Giacomo 1; 06-04-13 at 06:21 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo 1 View Post
    Greipel's style appears to be the wildest to me, with elbows flying and bike almost violently swaying back and forth. Great stuff though...
    I don't know who is wildest today, but.....


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    Senior Member Giacomo 1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by canam73 View Post
    I don't know who is wildest today, but...
    Like I said, the sprints are both exciting and terrifying at the same time!

    Wow, brutal crash. Looks like he just put his head down to dig and he just drifted into the wall. Not to familiar with Abdu. How bad was he hurt and did he ever race again?
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  12. #12
    starting pistol means war YMCA's Avatar
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    Abdu was as tough as they come.
    He literally bounces off pavement.

    That crash, he got up straight away and walked his bike across the line.
    As though it was just a scratch.

    Although I never respected his (w)recklessness
    Last edited by YMCA; 06-04-13 at 12:43 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YMCA View Post
    Abdu was as tough as they come.
    He literally bounces off pavement.

    That crash, he got up straight away and walked his bike across the line.
    As though it was just a scratch.

    Although I never respected his (w)recklessness
    To add to that, the clip is from the final stage of the 91 TdF. Abdu was already wearing the green sprinter's jersey and didn't need the win to keep it. But he did need to cross the line unaided to be the final sprint champion. While indeed tough, it took him a bit to get going but he did eventually cross before climbing in to an ambulance for some aid.

  14. #14
    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    Abdujaparov was a wild man, lol.
    And, yes he raced again.
    Last edited by Zinger; 06-04-13 at 02:57 PM.
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    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    Here's a 2003 Boonan crash. Cameramen were just too far into the track on this one. Looks like Boonan got bumped a little as well which is Legit under UCI rules I believe.

    ************************************

    So the United States Cycling Federation had a rule prohibiting blocking out a rider during a final sprint. Sue Novara Reber and Alan McCormack both were awarded wins by disqualifying a Dutch girl and Bob Roll respectively during the old Coors Classics. You could do that at will in a criterium right up until the final sprint.....Is that different under UCI rules ?
    Last edited by Zinger; 06-05-13 at 02:15 AM.
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    Something to think about when comparing sprinters in cycling to track and field sprinters is that what the cyclist is doing is really the equivalent of asking the track and field sprinter to run a 10,000 meter race at the same pace as the rest of the pack, then run a 100 meter sprint at the end. They can't bulk up too much and train wholesale for wattage lest they risk not being able to stay with the pack over the passes along the way.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Giacomo 1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by txags92 View Post
    Something to think about when comparing sprinters in cycling to track and field sprinters is that what the cyclist is doing is really the equivalent of asking the track and field sprinter to run a 10,000 meter race at the same pace as the rest of the pack, then run a 100 meter sprint at the end. They can't bulk up too much and train wholesale for wattage lest they risk not being able to stay with the pack over the passes along the way.
    I don't see Usain Bolt doing a 10,000 anytime soon, but I get your point!
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    Quote Originally Posted by YMCA View Post
    Well I suppose there have always been sprinters that were good at bunch kicks, but most of them were also good overall (think Maertens in the 70's, Kelly in the 80's, etc...)

    But not until the 90's did we start seeing true sprinter trains (think Cipo and the Red Train)
    Before my time, but didn't Jan Raas's Raleigh team have trains going to set him up for his wins in the 70s/80s?

    Also, Oscar Freire would be a pre-Cav model for the small sprinter. Not nearly as dominant, obviously.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Giacomo 1's Avatar
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    Hey guys, I'm back with another question...

    In a final bunch sprint of say 200-400 meters and the riders are out of their saddle, approximately what gear are they normally in for the final run and do they shift when out of the saddle these days? Are most riders in the same general gear, or does the individual riding style determine what gear they use? I know back in the down tube days, once they were out of the saddle, there was no real opportunity to shift, unless you sat back down, which meant your momentum was gone.

    Thanks again!
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  20. #20
    Velo Club La Grange Cat4Lifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YMCA View Post
    Abdu was as tough as they come.
    He literally bounces off pavement.

    That crash, he got up straight away and walked his bike across the line.
    As though it was just a scratch.

    Although I never respected his (w)recklessness
    I remember after a TDF stage I thought he and Museeuw were going to come to blows

  21. #21
    starting pistol means war YMCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo 1 View Post
    Hey guys, I'm back with another question...

    In a final bunch sprint of say 200-400 meters and the riders are out of their saddle, approximately what gear are they normally in for the final run and do they shift when out of the saddle these days? Are most riders in the same general gear, or does the individual riding style determine what gear they use? I know back in the down tube days, once they were out of the saddle, there was no real opportunity to shift, unless you sat back down, which meant your momentum was gone.

    Thanks again!
    Varies, but most guys these days sprint out of the saddle on heavy gears such as 53x-12 or 53x11 and even bigger sometimes.
    Whereas the old days it was more about getting speed up, sit back down and spinning through the line on 52x15 or such.
    I see most guys today already in the gear they wish to sprint on before launching, especially on days where the leadout is very fast.

    I personally like to sprint on smaller gears, but still standing most of the way, unless I went too early.
    50x14, or 13.

  22. #22
    Senior Member GrayJay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo 1 View Post
    Hey guys, I'm back with another question...

    In a final bunch sprint of say 200-400 meters and the riders are out of their saddle, approximately what gear are they normally in for the final run and do they shift when out of the saddle these days? Are most riders in the same general gear, or does the individual riding style determine what gear they use? I know back in the down tube days, once they were out of the saddle, there was no real opportunity to shift, unless you sat back down, which meant your momentum was gone.

    Thanks again!
    Really depends on the course, conditions and leadout the sprinter gets. If they are on an wide open, pancake flat finish and have a leadout delivering them to 300m at 40+ mph, then they can likely start in a high gear like 53x12 and not need to change. If it is an uphill finish or if starting the sprint involves a sudden marked increase in speed, then starting in a lower gear and perhaps shifting once top speed is obtained makes more sense. Trying to start a sprint in a gear that is too tall will kill your ability to accelerate. Brifters and the ability to easily shift mid-sprint definitly did change sprinting tactics when they first came out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YMCA View Post
    Varies, but most guys these days sprint out of the saddle on heavy gears such as 53x-12 or 53x11 and even bigger sometimes.
    Whereas the old days it was more about getting speed up, sit back down and spinning through the line on 52x15 or such.
    I see most guys today already in the gear they wish to sprint on before launching, especially on days where the leadout is very fast.

    I personally like to sprint on smaller gears, but still standing most of the way, unless I went too early.
    50x14, or 13.
    There's an old story about the 1989 Worlds that comes up in Sean Kelly bios etc. Kelly thought the course was too tough for it to come down to a sprint, so opted not to have a 12 on his cassette on the morning of the race. In the end, it did end up as a sprint, and he came 3rd behind Lemond and Konyshev.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJSgzHTRg38

    It's a longish straightaway in the wet, and maybe it was just that Kelly was tired at the end of a long race.

    Incidentally, I love how many different ways the commentator pronounces "Claveyrolat."

  24. #24
    starting pistol means war YMCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
    There's an old story about the 1989 Worlds that comes up in Sean Kelly bios etc. Kelly thought the course was too tough for it to come down to a sprint, so opted not to have a 12 on his cassette on the morning of the race. In the end, it did end up as a sprint, and he came 3rd behind Lemond and Konyshev.
    I tell that story as well.
    Kelly had a 52x13.
    I don't know if he would have won with a 12, but he did seem to regret not having it.

  25. #25
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
    Before my time, but didn't Jan Raas's Raleigh team have trains going to set him up for his wins in the 70s/80s?

    Also, Oscar Freire would be a pre-Cav model for the small sprinter. Not nearly as dominant, obviously.
    Yes, and Rik van Looy's Red Guard was a template for the HTC train in the 1960s.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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