A bit more on sprinting…

Ok, I thought I’d finished that post, but (as usual) as soon as you think you’ve finished something…

My team-mate Dave posted a link up on our forum today to an interesting literature review entitled Understanding Sprint-Cycling Performance: The Integration of Muscle Power, Resistance, and Modeling. It covers pretty much every aspect of sprinting, including track and road, short to long duration, and has some interesting modelling and conclusions regarding the relationship between aerodynamics and sprint performance. It’s a bit technical in places, but you can skip the proper geeky bits and it’s definitely worth a read. To summarise a couple of the conclusions:

  • Crank length has no impact on sprinting
  • Optimal cadence is around 130 rpm
  • Standing to sprint increases power output by 8-12%, but the increased aerodynamic drag significantly reduces this benefit
  • A drafting riderʼs drag area is reduced by 25% or more, allowing faster acceleration

Another interesting point, which corresponds to other data that I’ve seen, goes to my first point in my previous post. The author references the power profile of a UCI Protour race winning performance from a bunch sprint. I’ll just quote the paper here

“The final maximal effort was 14 seconds in duration, during which average power was 926 W and peak power was 1097 W … the peak power of 1097 W might seem modest compared with the power reported for track cyclists over short distances. This power, however, won a major professional road stage race with a large peloton intact. It was produced after 5 and a half hours of racing and was the culmination of several kilometers of increasing speed in approaching the finish line. During the final 3 minutes, this cyclist averaged 490 W and exceeded 600 W for 64 seconds.”

Makes me think – I can match those sprint numbers, but I definitely couldn’t put that final 3 minutes together after 5.5 hours of racing. Gives me something to aim for though!

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