The final sprint for the line is the quickest and most chaotic point of the race. The red mist can descend and riders will also be tired, increasing the likelihood of crashes. As a result, it becomes paramount to ride in a safe and controlled manner – no-one wants to crash at 50kph!
When sprinting, there are two key things to keep in mind: keep it straight and keep your head up.
Firstly, don’t make any big movements to the left or right. Once you start your sprint go straight for the line and don’t deviate from that line. If you are the fastest then you will have no problems. If you aren’t then chopping someone up will not only make you very unpopular, but chances are it won’t win you the sprint either.
As for keeping your head up, make sure you are always looking at what is happening in front of you at all times. Often in a sprint, riders will set off at full pace only to run out of legs and slow dramatically. If you are sprinting behind them with your head down then chances are you will end up riding straight into the back of them. Not good for you, them or your front wheel.
Keeping your head up will also mean that if a space does open up in front of you then you can move gently to the left or right to move through a gap and hopefully win the sprint. You can fine-tune your sprint in training on a quiet road by practicing to put the power on smoothly and keeping your head up.
Positioning is vital ahead of a sprint, and something you will pick up on with practice, but it’s always worth bearing in mind that if you’re back in 30th position going into the final dash, you’re very unlikely to win, or secure any points with a top ten finish, so keep it sensible. Is it worth crashing to finish 24th?