Fear of bunch sprinting to finish

Hi everyone,

Any tips how to overcome this fear? Too many times I have a chance to do well in the race, but I lock up in fear to sprint if the road/gaps are narrow and can close in split second. So I just let others have it… I’m not a bad sprinter or bike handler, but the idea of smashing into someone swerving into my way is terrifying.


I have two tips for you:

  1. It’s amazing how much field sprinting slows down and seems much less chaotic when you’re really fit and strong. It feels much more manageable if you’re not in over your head in every sprint. Maybe try to focus your training more on the top end stuff.

  2. A noted American criterium sprinter once told me: Field sprinting isn’t about one massive effort. Too often people leave it to the last 2 or 3 laps to get in position and go for it. Start preparing your field sprint effort 10 laps (or more) out. If you can make a field sprint more about a lot of small efforts to get in position, then the final gallop will be much more manageable. Figure out if you sprint best from 3 wheels back, or maybe from the front.

Hope that helps!
My blog: ex-prosays.blogspot.com


Thanks a lot for the advice, I do plan my finishes, but when the time comes, there is a bit of stumble.
I had few crashes last year and my confidence has not restored to what it was.

Seems like you need to become a breakaway rider then. I remember reading somewhere that if you can’t or don’t want to filed sprint, don’t let it come down to a field sprint! Much easier said than done though.

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I can sympathize with the OP. I am sure my best chance of winning races was in a field sprint. I remember one race where I was on the wheel of the guy that won, and I could see the hole he was going through, but I was too timid to follow. I am pretty sure I could have beaten him. What’s the worst that could have happened? Probably some road rash because I was young and bounced pretty well back then. But I watched a lot of sprints from 100 feet back too after I just gave up.

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once you move up in the ranks (you will since you are at the pointy end of the race now!), you have to be super aggressive and love the excitement of the finishing sprint. It is slightly scary, just part of it.

As the other person said below, breakaways make the sprint smaller, or give a flyer with 2 to go, or just try mixing it up. You won’t crash; just assert yourself for space and hammer it home.


Hope im not breaking any forum rules here…

Im a qualified hypnotherapist (and registered nurse) in the UK. Looking to change my practice from clinical hypnosis (ie pain, anxiety etc) to being more sports based, esp cycling.

Happy to do some work with you online at no cost in return for some feedback/testimonial if you want to explore removing any barriers to getting where you want to be.

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Simple answer. Don’t go for the gaps.

I realise that sounds patronising but it isn’t meant to be. I love a good sprint and those gaps are so tempting but I’ve seen quite a few riders come unstuck going for something that was never really an option.

Personally I prefer to sit just outside the pack if it’s coming down to a bunch sprint. Just accept the fact that you’re in the wind. From this position, you’re in control. You can wind it up whenever you fancy. You’re not relying on rider(s) in front of you and it’s very rare that another ride will jump over and try to use you as a launch for their effort. More often than not, those sprinting from the bunch never even see you coming.


Thanks for all the replies

From your responses, I think I narrow this down to few things:

  • I may not have right reasons to take the risk, I’m 37 and while I enjoy racing, I know I can get upgraded and that would be it at best…
  • I afraid to bring someone down behind me, I don’t know why I worry about it, but, perhaps, same reasons I do unnecessary pulls in front to be fair with others doing pulls.
  • Need to work on positioning better and try to hold it. I don’t think I defend my position well enough when I have it. Feel like saving a bit of energy for the last sprint, but I fall back as a result.

I had mixed success with solo breakaways, it paid off few times, but other times it cost too much…

You have to decide what you want from racing. Diving for a small gap when you’re 19 is different to when you’re in your 30s or 40s with kids at home.

I enjoy racing but I’d be trying to get points from being in a breakaway or vastly reduced bunch sprint.

Road racing itself from my experience is pretty safe, it’s the sprints where it all goes wrong. Especially when people are sprinting for 20th place. Seriously why?

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