In this two part sprint tactic series we’re talking about tips and training suggestions to help you get the most out of your sprint racing!
In part one, we looked at 3 strategies and key focuses when you’re riding the sprint from the front or bottom position.
In this blog, we’re going to look at 3 strategies and training tips to ride the sprint from the back or top position.
As we mentioned in last week’s blog, sprint tactics will encompass 3 fundamental principles:
Distance = The amount of distance between you and your opponent
Speed = The speed in which you ride at during the race at various stages
Position = The position you occupy on the track in relation to the track itself (e.g. how high you position yourself from the top, or how close you are to the bottom/sprinters lane)
So with these three fundamental principles in mind, let’s talk about 3 strategies you can implement in training to help you out-smart your opponent and win if you draw the rear or back position.
What it Means:
When you’re riding the sprint from the back position it’s inevitable that to win the race, you’re going to have to get to the front at some point before the finish line.
‘When’ in the race is ultimately dictated by you and you will need to set up the race by putting yourself in the right positions on the track and timing your acceleration.
Keeping all of this in mind, it’s important to note that if you’re directly behind a rider or at a lower point on the track, getting around your opponent is going to be difficult and require good acceleration.
By taking height, that is, positioning yourself higher than your opponent on the track (see the diagram below) you give yourself the opportunity to utilise free speed on the ‘downhill’ parts of the track to get around.
As a bit of a homework exercise, check out the following races and note the back rider’s position on the track in the earlier stages of the race:
Race 1: Vogel vs James - Check out what taking height looks like, Kristina Vogel demonstrates between 1:23 - 1:40
Race 2: Bauge vs Kenny - Check out what taking heights looks like - Jason Kenny demonstrates between 2:58 - 3:13: Click Here
What it Means:
Timing your acceleration simply means picking the right time in the race to make your move to the front.
In timing your acceleration, you’ll need to ask yourself whether you have created enough distance between yourself and your opponent get around them (without getting stuck on the hip) and you’ll also need to take into consideration the type of track you’re riding (round, skinny, long straights, short bends, degree of banking etc.).
To time your acceleration perfectly, you will need to:
With a friend or training partner, practice ‘creating space’ by repeating the following steps:
What it Means:
It’s not uncommon to see the back rider in a sprint drifting too far back from the front opponent, and ultimately leaving too much distance to make up the gap.
The result almost always sees the front rider taking advantage of the extra space and out-sprinting the rear rider to the finish.
When there’s too much of a gap between opponents, riders are pushing equal amounts of wind (neither benefits from slip-stream) and therefore the race can turn into a time trial with the front rider being favoured with less overall distance to travel.
When you’re riding from the back it’s important to be weary of allowing too much distance to be created between yourself and your front opponent.
What’s too much distance?
Too much distance is unrecoverable space and varies based on each rider’s physiological strengths and the track that their riding on, but for the sake of this blog, we’re going to say that too much distance is any more than 3-4 bike lengths.
If you can stay within 3-4 bike lengths of your opponent and maximise your height advantage (if you manage to take height) and time your acceleration correctly, you should find yourself in a more favourable position to get around the front rider (that is, assuming you have the speed and physiology to do so).
Have you got some track sprint tactics that you’d like to share with us?
Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear your feedback!