Posted in: Paddy Doran
By Paddy Doran
Jan 25, 2012 - 10:24:00 AM

As we are now a number of weeks away from the first races of the season in Ireland, it's time to think about sprints and sprinting.

A lot of our races finish in a sprint either from a small group or a bunch finish, so having a good sprint will pay good dividends over a season. Most riders should now have a good fitness level from plenty of consistent training over the last few months especially with the good training weather that we have had. So now is a good time (if you are not already doing so) to introduce shorter efforts to develop your sprint for when you get to the end of races in a winning position.


Some riders adopt a defeatist attitude "but I can't Sprint", I sometimes hear this from riders, however the fact is that everyone can sprint (some are just quicker or slower) and everyone is capable of improving their ability to sprint which will improve their placing in at least a situation where there is a small group sprinting for a finish.


The sprint is made up of three components..

1 The acceleration phase
2 Max Speed
3 Maintaining max speed: often known as speed endurance


When doing any of these sessions take note of the following. Shoes / cleats need to be fitted well and not likely to be able to pull your foot out of the pedals. Do the efforts on a quite safe section of road or a track if you live near to one and look where you are going at all times.


The Speed Training Pyramid


The sequence of training is as above build up the maximum strength first, top speed could also be trained at this stage. Power is a combination of the max strength and speed. Maintaining top speed/ speed endurance should be trained last when the other components are strong. So that will be a number of weeks following the introduction of the first two components.


Paul Kennedy leads out the sprint in Donore

This requires a lot of power which is greatly influenced by maximum strength which is trained by short maximum explosive efforts of 4-6 seconds from a slow start on a gear (53x 14 to 13 that gives substantial resistance. Recovery time of 30-60 seconds. Number of efforts 6-10. Do some of them seated and some out of saddle.


This is best achieved by sprinting on a very slight downhill section of road, on 53 x 17 to 15 or with tailwinds and lead-outs from other riders. The aim is to get to top speed and hold the speed for just one or two seconds. Gradually build up speed on the slightly downhill section then sprint to top speed and ease off. Number of efforts 4-6, Cadence: this should be high 110 to 130/140 pedal Revs per minute Take long recovery times (5-10 minutes) between efforts so that you can repeat the efforts at high speed.



After a number of weeks of Max strength and speed development, when your acceleration and top speed is well developed you can try to increase the distance that you can hold top speed for.

You can do this by simply trying to maintain the top speed for longer. This hurts and needs a lot of mental drive and willpower to achieve this. Time of efforts 15-30 seconds. Number of efforts 5-8 recovery between efforts 60- 20 seconds. As your fitness improves the recovery time can be gradually reduced


Be progressive with the number and intensity of efforts and the gears. Begin from where you are now in regard to the number of efforts, and especially the size of the gear and gradually increase them as you get stronger.

When to include these efforts? Twice weekly will give improvements. Doing them on days that you are rested will give most benefits. They can be mixed into a regular road session by doing the efforts following the warm up.

Happy Sprinting



Youth riders can receive specific information for speed training sessions in the Youth Training Guide written by Paddy Doran and available from Cycling Ireland.