Sprint up to speed in a short TT?

I know very well the pacing strategy for a TT, but I have a 5 mile and 7.8 mile TT as the first leg of two stage races this year and I’m not experienced enough to know how to leave the start gate. I have my power output planned for the segment, but do I GAAASSSSSS IT out of the block to get up to speed as quickly as possible? No ramp, but usually an official will hold the bike so you can start clipped in. Should I stay under my planned power? 200% for 5 seconds? 300% till up to speed? All out for 10 seconds?

Its soft short rollers point A to point B for the 5 miler, and the 7.8 has a U turn. (Same question would apply to post-turn acceleration.)


I don’t have an answer for you, but 5 and 7.8 miles seem short enough that you could probably experiment and see right? When are they? Do you have a five mile stretch somewhere you could try it a few different ways?

I would think, especially given how short they are, you’d want to really gas it out of the gate. People will probably be doing that 5 miler under 10 minutes, so settling into a pace like you would in a 40k seems like it’d be too time consuming.

Yes gas it to get up to your desired speed. No reason to go full send and exceed your target speed. You will get to speed quickly and then settle in. It will be basically anaerobic and won’t impact your performance in such a short event.

How are you at over/under efforts? For example your fallibility to put out at fairly high output over your threshold and then settling into you race pace?

I think you want to get up to your target speed (the speed your legs can sustain for the duration) fairly quickly and get Aero. Whilst only short races you can still save precious seconds by staying aero,

Also, take into consideration how much effort you want to put into both these races as you don’t want to bake yourself for subsequent stages in the race if you have team role to play.

I’m better at 60-120 sec power than I am at over-unders, but my power is pretty good at these short TTs. Just looking to refine a little technique before the event. I can basically blow myself up for 10-15min at the 9am start and be fine to race the crit at 4pm. The events are time based cumulative, so the TT often plays an enormous role in winning. I do have a team to work with, but I have a baby coming mid season, so this early season race I can likely be the one the team works for.

I wouldn’t go vol bok out of the start. You could over cook yourself and not recover. That lactic could derail your planned output for the rest of the TT. I would build up to speed at 105% and settle back to your planned wattage.

Have a look at course before the TT.
It’s short enough you could do a recon TT
Is it a flat course?
Any bergs?
Planned wattage?

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I could recon them. The 5 miler I did last year. They aren’t pan flat, but rolling steadily 2-5% up and down, nothing steeper. Last year my ftp was around 270 and I averaged 285 for the 5 miles. This year I’ll be likely around 305 ftp and will probably aim to hold ~320w.

I’m not as experienced as you but had the following experience on a 10 mile TT last summer…

Went fuuuuuuulz gas to get up to speed quickly - completely screwed my ability to hold my desired power in the aero position (FTP was 330 so was aiming for 310 given the aero position takes power from me and my time over 10 miles on this rolling course was expected to be about 24 minutes (standard road bike without TT bars).

As it was I did 24:42 which was super disappointing

Looking at my power data after the TT I saw I’d hit 1200w peak and then averaged over 450 for the first two minutes so definitely not a great strategy

I’m assuming you’ll be much better than I was at managing your output, however based on this ‘n’ of 1 experience I’d not recommend full gas - maybe look to strike a balance that gives you the ability to push a fair bit to get up to speed but avoids baking your legs ?

Good luck :+1:t2::muscle:t2:

Even on a 10, I get to around 450W on the first 8-10 seconds, but then sit down and settle into my rhythm around FTP at 240 or so. I will be out of the saddle for around 5-6 strokes, and drop into TT bars, change up and settle in.

I guess the question is, If you accelerate at say +600W for 20 seconds and the have to recover, how much less distance have you travelled than say acceplerating for 20sec @450W or 15 seconds at 350W.

And is the difference gained (which I suspect is not a lot) going to make you attacking a later hill a bit more laboured? I suspect the terrain over the next half mile or so might have more of a bearing on this than anything else, in my experience anyway. Into a hill and you want to save some for the top. Into a drop (eh down a DC sliproad) and you can micro-recover and then push on. If 200 yds to a junction - different again. On a straight clear flat… push on.

PS I did a 12hr TT this year. I rolled away from the line like I roll off my drive on a cold morning and slowly got up to 150W… I was in no hurry :slight_smile: Absolutely nothing to be gained by going off quickly.

Thanks for the input everyone. Being such a short (under 12min for the 5mi) I feel like the initial acceleration is proportionally large enough that I may be able to take a little time off a competitor. It’s not much, but I’m going to be in V02 territory, and with a proper warmup could be primed from the gun instead of needing to warm into the effort. Basically, if another guy has a slight advantage in w/cda, this might be the only spot I can steal a little time back.

Have a look at stage 1 of the 2019 Giro. That was a super short time trial.

I’d say the prevailing strategy among top contenders was definitely to start with a pretty big effort, but not quite a sprint, to get up to speed quickly.

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I also did a 2km pursuit on the track last year. I went off too fast and died desperately on the last two laps (of 8) losing far more time there than I gained in the first half of the first lap.

Next attempt, a steadier acceleration into lap 1, into stride by back straight, and far better splits and overall time.

12 minutes might not sound a long time, but when you are dying… it lasts for ever.

Suggestion: Do two 5 minute efforts on your turbo. One, where you go off quite fast (as you are planning for the 5 miles/12 mins). The other where you do a steadier start and are more consistent. See which gets you further…

I don’t believe you ever get back the time you lose by tanking it off the line even in a short TT, measured and controlled roll away from the line, get up to target power within 60 seconds would be the best advice I believe, you absolutely should not and don’t need to go into the red at this point in the race, save it for the final mile or so.