Good sprint power in training but sprint weak at the end of a race

Hi guys I’ve noticed that during the end of a race I really struggle to put out sustained sprint power. I am looking for opinions on the best way to address this.

I am a pretty heavy guy, third cat and this is my first real season.

I can Put out 1500W in training repeatedly but at the end of a race even when I’ve looked after myself I find I can only put out this power for a second Before exhaustion. I’m 90kg so I’m sure this is a part of the issue, But for example if it’s a large bunch sprint I don’t have the issue as much, But in my last two races the finish has been a long draggy finish In a break of 4 to 6 riders.


Comparing sprint numbers from being fresh in training, to a bunch sprint after (I’m assuming) sitting in, to a sprint after being in a small break for however long isn’t really a level comparison.

In terms of addressing it, improving aerobic fitness would help as the racing prior will use up less of your anaerobic resources (glycolytic and creatine phosphate).


BLUF: Probably aerobic fitness overall.

Long: I bet if you compare your power data from races where you are in the bunch and sprint vs smallish break they are quite different. Probably you have lower NP in the bunch finish, have fewer hard efforts, have fewer sustained hard efforts, lower kJ burn, etc., compared to the break. The solutions I see are to improve overall aerobic fitness / increase FTP or fatigue resistance work. Your rested sprint is huge, I would bet good money that in a small group situation you are working much harder over the entire race and are more fatigued at the end. To me, that means lots of endurance work and threshold / over-unders / suprathreshold work and don’t worry about sprint workouts at all.

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From another discussion thread, I found the following article to be extremely informative on this subject. I’ve shifted my training focus accordingly, and am noticing an upward trend in my top end power at the end of races - even after many matches burned throughout.

I think sometimes we focus entirely too much on top end, and forget that the engine needs more attention.

You’re Training Too Hard for Criteriums—Here’s Why | TrainingPeaks


Was going to post the same, really good article and guidelines for training during race season.

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Sprinting on fresh legs in training gets your sprint strongest. Practicing sprints on tired legs get you better at doing so. You might try working in some sprints at the end of a long hard group ride, etc.

Thanks guys, All useful information. I might try and post the 2 races recently where I had issue if I can figure it out!

Back in my college track days I would lose an all out 200 against others in the distance crew but I rarely lost to them in a kick at the end of a race. In a race it is about how fresh you are when you need it. There is a lot going on there… speed reserves, muscle fibers, lactate threshold. But really I think it mostly comes down to putting in the miles.

What kind of training are you dong now instead? I note in his article that KM prescribed longish sweet spot work instead in order to gain back some freshness for his athlete.

Out of interest, how/where are you positioned when contesting the smaller 4-6 rider sprints?

If you’re comfortable holding a wheel and you’ve been able to position yourself towards the back of the small group, you’ll be in a great position to get the most out of a depleted sprint. You’ll also reduce the opportunity for other riders to slingshot off your wheel.

As others have mentioned, training your sprint at the end of long endurance rides or hard group rides is also beneficial. You’ll get a feel for your ideal gearing.

To be honest probably too far forward. Last week‘s road race was 48 mile, 3 laps and finished consisting of a 30 sec climb into 3% 2 min draggy finish. Hit the bottom of the climb in third wheel.

Even though I’m stronger than a lot of riders in my category, I feel being so heavy matters more for me if a course or the finish doesn’t suit me for example this weeks race Where I had this issue consisted of a hairpin straight into a draggy finish where I had no momentum to play with. It was 1000 watts Out of the hairpin To stay with a group of three, then A sprint 10 seconds later. Again I’m guessing too far forward

That does sound like a challenging finish, to be fair.

Obviously anecdotal, but after a long talk with my coach, I’ve added in a ton of Z2 riding - to continue building the aerobic base. On the other side of that - a couple workouts/week that feature several all-out efforts of 30 secs. It’s been more of an extreme polarization approach - akin to what was recently discussed in one of the podcasts.

My top end power is down this season, as I’m still recovering a separated shoulder, and can’t really pull on the bars. But I’ve been able to salvage some big power via seated sprints - and definitely have more to give at the ends of races since I’ve adopted this polarized approach.

Obviously YMMV, but it’s been enlightening to shift from a traditional TR plan, and add a lot of z2 volume. My body is adapting favorably.

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Pros actually specifically measure, and train for, power AFTER a certain duration (actually they use kilojoules). Fresh 20 minute power, or 5 second power etc are of somewhat limited use for evaluating what a racer’s abilities are going to be when the chips are down but those numbers after having put in X Kj are pretty good indicators of how good a racer you are.

Amateurs don’t need to be doing workouts that start with a 3000 Kj ride before starting the interval part as we aren’t doing 100+ mile races but, as others have said, sprinting at the end of a race is very much an endurance issue not just a sprint power issue.


Thank you for the considered reply. I’ve added some all out sprint efforts to my regime as well. I am not sure how you are managing intervals of all our sprinting because even after one 30 second all out effort I am almost totally cooked!

You know, I think I’m getting used to them? I’ve always been wired as a fast-twitch guy, having a background in football (American) and hockey. So it’s always been easier for me to be snappy and repeatable. It’s the 3-5 minute repeatable power that wastes me. I’ve got about 2-3 of those in me, and that’s something I’ve been working to improve.