Don’t fail your starts in cycling races


Today I am going to give you 7 tips to make good starts in cycling races.


1) Warm up

A good warm up gets your body ready for the race since it gets used to the efforts you make before the race. You can ride 20 minutes beginning slowly and finishing with several 15-20s sprints.


Warm up before a cycling race

Cycling racers warm up before a race


In my concern I ride during 40 minutes, 2 or 3 hours before the race start time. Then I don’t warm up in the race location except getting my number and going to the start line. Find the warm up recipe who works with you.

I warmed up like this in a one kilometer time trial track championship in my small French region (Bretagne). I arrive there 15 minutes before my 1kmTT start, I got dressed and I went on my bike listening all the people whispering: “oh he didn’t warm up, he’s crazy”. I did 1’12’’68 on the outdoor track without specific training (I prefer road racing) and I got the bronze medal. People didn’t understand how I did this result. In fact I had already made a 1min15 effort 2h30 before the official race.


2) Go to the start line 10-15 minutes before the start time

I like to choose my place in the bunch. That’s why I ride on the start line about 15 minutes before the start time. If I arrive too late, all racers have already taken the best starting places and I am forced to start in the bunch tail. I don’t like this.

Get the privilege of choosing your start place by going there early. The more numerous are the racers the earlier you should go to start.


3) Choose a place in the first lines

By placing yourself in the first two lines you increase your chances to be in the top 20 after the start and you will be able to catch the first breakaway if it is a decisive break.


The first line in a cycling race

The first line in a cycling race

Once upon a time I was explaining to my friend Sebastien that the first line was a strategic starting position: “we never know what is going to happen” I said. 500 meters after the start, 21 racers broke away. Sebastien and I sprinted and caught the breakaway as the 22th and 23th riders. After 1km (out of 140km) the race was over for the remaining 80 racers.


4) Start with a quite low gear


In a start you have to clip your cleat inside the pedal. If you fail clipping your cleat into the pedal at the first loop, you are going to have another try in the next pedal loop.

The good news is: the second clipping try will come fast if you have chosen a quite low gear before the start.

I often start with the small chainwheel and put the big one several seconds after the start. If you do this do not forget to put the big chainwheel after: it happens twice to me in criteriums. Fortunately I can spin fast.



5) Eat and drink 2 minutes before start

You should take you first energy supply 2 minutes before bang goes the gun.

Food will be assimilated by your organism once the race started. The first supply will be already done: one less supply to do inside the race. You can focus on the bunch goings-on.


6) Focus when clipping your cleat into the pedal


If you miss your first clipping you might lose a dozen of places in the bunch. The consequences depend of the number of racers, their aggressiveness and the kind of the race. A long miss may result in a loss of 30 or 40 places in the bunch.


Choose a good place in the bunch after start

Choose a good place in the bunch after the start


7) Choose a good place in the bunch

If you perform well all the aforementioned steps you probably are in the bunch head. So you can go where you want in the bunch. I think that the 15th position is a good place which permits you to see all the goings-on of the race.

It is up to you to choose if you catch the first breakaway of not. It can be the topic of another post.


See you in another post.


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