How do you start your sprint?

I’ve been wanting to better my sprint performance, so lately on my outdoor rides I like to throw in 1 to 3 short 10-15" sprints. Ive been focusing on alot of the form queues from the Nate/ Pete sprint video such as tighten the core/ arms, handlebar pull, etc. The sprint itself feels solid, with no wheel hop and nice acceleration. So…

My question is during a race, when I want to start my sprint, how do y’all go about it in terms of gearing? Drop down 3 or so gears and then hit it? Start your effort with a fast spin and then shift as needed while speeding up? Or maybe theres a better way to go about it. Please enlighten me or direct me to a thread better discussing this if possible.

Here you go, also enjoy Nate saving what would have killed me haha


Have you tried looking at cadence versus power? At what cadence do you generate the most power? Does that change if you drop 3 gears before the sprint? I’ve been told that changing gears during a sprint is a good way to lose speed, but haven’t tested that out on the road. Assuming that is true, its a good reason to work on spinning up to your highest cadence from various initial cadences. Look at your data for clues to how to improve your sprint.

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I had a very very good sprinter tell me that his plan was always “shift down twice and go for it”. But then I made a similar reference on one of Norcalcycling’s videos and he responded to me like I was some clueless newb… so I have no idea anymore.

Somehow Geoff’s idea was that he doesn’t shift at all from lead-out to sprint, and it’s only an increase in cadence. Which kinda makes sense, since (according to bikecalc) 52x12 from 90rpm to 110 rpm would speed up from ~30mph to ~37.5mph on the same gear.

Too early and/or in the wrong position :disappointed:


That has been my strategy…I dont shift at all. I take off at a normal, quick spin…say 90rpm, and just max out cadence.

Of course…I’ve never won a race so dont listen to me lol

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@BRad704 I have also heard the “don’t shift during sprints” as well, which I guess is kinda where I’m going. In the leadout, drop a few and go should put me where i want without shifting gears, correct? My main worry is having to then muscle over that big gear for the first few revolutions to get up to speed, but I suppise that’s what force production training is for…

For what its worth, I’m pretty comfortable with shifting gears mid-effort if I need to, but ofcourse rather not.

@bbarrera i normally land about low 100’s it seems. Form sprints I can hold 130’s comfortably, if thats of note.

Usually tired af.


This is also a valid answer😂

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Not really, you need to go outside (or inside in resistance mode) and go all-out. And then look at your data. And repeat that experiment at two different starting points:

  • from a near dead stop
  • from cruising speed

I could post some of my data showing things like single gear “exiting a tight corner” 6mph to 26mph in 10-seconds and topping out at 30mph but its not what you can do. Looking across my various efforts it looks like my power/torque sweet spot is roughly 95-125rpm and continuing to spin up to 140-160rpm in order to not shift gears. But that is my power/torque sweet spot and terminal cadence, not yours. You need to do the work and look at the data.


It happens organically…after angering some neighborhood dogs…




Hit when you hear someone get to shift number 2 :wink:

I’ve never worked on it.

Neither has the “sprinter” in my club. After a year or two of cycling (he was a noob) just one time in a Crit he was there at the end and he just “pedaled as fast as he could” in his words and won, lol. It was only 45 minutes but at the end he was over 1,200 watts for 5 seconds. Ugh.

Natural athletes are assholes.

He’s already a Cat3, I’m still a 5 (don’t have 10 races) but I guess technically I’m a 4.

Anyway, keep working on it but watch out for jerks who seem to naturally put out more at the end of a race than you can when you’re fresh!

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that puts me in the non-asshole category :joy:

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I think getting into a good position to sprint is more important and harder. It’s 10 parts aerobic fitness, 3 parts luck and 7 parts experience/knowledge of what wheel to get on/deal with the surge etc…

When the sprint does open up and you’re in a position to sprint, it helps to lay off that wheel you are drafting and move forward in the draft to sling shot around for some extra speed. Timing of it all is natural.

All this ^^^ is just experience and practice. Just have to get into as many races/race situations as possible to learn.

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My sprint power seems to be transitioning to improved endurance these days. I’ve never been the body shape for top sprinting anyway, uphill sprints are the ones that are good for me. My technique whether right or wrong has been to up the cadence followed by upping the gears if necessary.

If I’m in a fast draft on a flat road, I’m usually already in the right gear so I just spin up in whatever gear I’m in.

If I’m cresting on a climb and need to finish on a sprint, I shift down 2 and spin up. When climbing I produce FTP efficiently around 50~55 rpm, obviously at higher torque than what I’m doing on flats… so coming out of that sustained FTP scenario it’s easier for me to downshift first if the situation calls for producing and maintaining peak power for another 15~30 seconds.

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If it’s 10-15 seconds then I’m in the “don’t change gear” camp. Pick a gear that you can get on top of but still have plenty of room to accelerate in without spinning out. I.e. starting cadence of ~90-100 so you’re not having to grind and muscle it too much, you say you’re comfortable at 130rpm so that gives you scope to increase your speed by a third or more before needing to change. If you do need to change then you want to do so just before you spin out - the higher the cadence, the quicker the chain is moving, the faster and cleaner the shift is. I.e. a shift that takes you from 130rpm to 120 rpm is less disruptive to your rhythm than a shift that takes you from 110rpm to 100rpm.

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In the final km lead up to a sprint I’ll shift from a gear where I’m at about 90 rpm to more like 70 to hold same speed in preparation. Generally I’ll hold that gear in the last few hundred meters but pick cadence up to about 90 as speed will increase, then I may or may not downshift one more gear right before I stomp it, and usually am able to bring my cadence up to about 110 for end of sprint. I don’t switch gears in sprint it’s a recipe for dropping a chain and crashing.