The Art of Sprinting by Caleb Ewan
For me, sprinting is one of those things that you are either born with, or you’re not. Lucky for me, I was born with a special gift, to be able to sprint fast on my bike!
It wasn’t until I was 16-17 years of age that I knew I was a decent sprinter. Up until then, I was a bit of an all-rounder; I won an u19 national Time Trial Championship, and a few national selection races that finished on top of some solid climbs, but those few results didn’t come naturally to me. I trained super hard for that TT victory, and even though I won, I knew I wasn’t going to be a TT specialist in the future. In the junior ranks you can be an all-rounder, have a crack at everything, and enjoy all types of road cycling. In the u23s, it becomes a little clearer on what type of rider you’re going to be, and once you reach the professional level it’s crystal clear. If you don’t have an X-factor in the professional ranks you will get found out awfully quickly and, lucky for me, I had it in the form of sprinting.
In my first year pro I was getting to the end of races, but I was legless and couldn’t sprint out of a wet paper bag. In the 2015 Vuelta, where I won a stage, I did 11 stages and only got to the finish in the front group once. I learnt quickly that I had to train my endurance more than anything else.
I hardly ever train my sprint. Instead, it’s about training to be fit enough to get through the race to contest the sprint at the end, and be able to use my sprint weapon that comes so naturally to me. The better shape I can be in at the finish, the better my sprint is going to be. For this to be the outcome, endurance training is the most important part of my training schedule.
THE KEYS TO SPRINTING
Position: You need to be in a good position to sprint from. A good sprinter needs to be able to ‘surf’ the wheels in the bunch, to be clever enough to always stay in the front 20 riders approaching the finish, and to conserve as much energy as possible to be able to launch your sprint.
A good lead out from teammates: A good lead out keeps you out of trouble, often eliminating the risk of being boxed in and getting caught up in potential crashes! It gives you clean space to work with, and when a lead out is done perfectly, there is no better scenario to be sprinting in.
Timing: Whether it’s me sprinting or getting the team set up for a lead-out, timing is the most important element to sprinting. You sprint too early, and you run out of gas, too late, and you don’t even get a sniff of the win. Every sprint is different, and the more sprints you find yourself in, the easier timing is going to get. In technical finishes and tailwind sprints you can afford to hit out from distance and back yourself. For headwind and slight uphill sprints, it’s best to leave your run as late as possible; use the wheels of other riders!
Towards Zero Race Melbourne: Tomorrow myself and my Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates get the chance to put these key aspects of sprinting into practice, at the Towards Zero Race Melbourne event around Albert Park. I fancy this race, for it’s one of the fastest races (average speed) we get to do all season, it’s done in close to two hours, and it’s a great spectacle for fans. Not often do you get to see the best bike riders in the world up so close and personal, and, unlike other bike races, you get to see us come past 22 times! It’s my last race for the Aussie summer of cycling, and I want to make it a memorable one, so come on down and see me go head to head with some of the best sprinters in the world, and see how fast professional cycling really is!
THURSDAY 25TH JANUARY
Ride4All- 1pm - 2pm. Come on down bring the kids and ride the closed circuit for an hour before the pros.
Elite Women’s Race -Start 2:30PM- 12 laps x 5.3km circuit. Total 63.6km
Elite Men’s Race- Start 5PM- 22 laps x 5.3km circuit. Total 116.6km