Wel­come To Sprint School

Hit the fin­ish first with these tips from 16-year-old phe­nom­e­non Me­gan Jastrab

Bicycling (South Africa) - - Inside - BY JEN SEE

Learn from your ju­niors.

LAST MAY, AS A GUEST for the Amy D. Foun­da­tion Team, then-15-year-old Me­gan Jastrab fin­ished se­cond against a stacked pro­fes­sional field at the Red­lands Bi­cy­cle Clas­sic cri­terium. Even more im­pres­sive, she achieved that re­sult on lim­ited gear­ing: ju­nior rac­ing rules in the US re­strict her max­i­mum gear to a 52x14, mean­ing that she has to spin more to go the same dis­tance as rid­ers with big­ger gears. (For com­par­i­son, fel­low sprinter Lau­ren Hall fre­quently races with a 50x11, which lets her travel al­most 305cm on one pedal stroke compared to Jastrab’s 249.) Trans­la­tion? Jastrab is a master of strat­egy and po­si­tion. Here’s her ad­vice for set­ting your­self up to win – even if you’re not the strong­est. Study the course. Jastrab likes to pre­view cour­ses by driv­ing them and watch­ing YouTube videos of past years’ races so she’ll know what to ex­pect at the fin­ish. “Is it an up­hill or a down­hill sprint? Does it come out of a cor­ner quickly?” These de­tails help her de­cide where to po­si­tion her­self. Fol­low your com­pe­ti­tion. Maybe you’re not the favourite, but know­ing who is could help you to a sur­prise vic­tory. Po­si­tion your­self on an ex­pe­ri­enced racer’s wheel, says Jastrab. “Ninety-nine per cent of the time, they’ll be in a good po­si­tion.” Fol­low­ing a vet will help you learn how to set up your sprint – and you just might be able to come around to win. Move up! It’s hard to win a sprint from the back of the field, says Jastrab. “Us­ing en­ergy to get your­self into po­si­tion is go­ing to pay off im­mensely.” Typ­i­cally, she’ll take ac­tion in­side the last eight kays. How close to the front you should be de­pends on the size of the group, but you’ll usu­ally want to po­si­tion your­self among the first 10 rid­ers within the last kilo­me­tre, with­out be­ing first in line. If there’s a climb or tight cor­ner near the fin­ish, you should get even closer to the front – in the top five. Check the wind. “If there’s a head­wind, you don’t want to be stuck out there,” says Jastrab. “Some­one will sit on your wheel and jump you, be­cause they’re fresh.” She rec­om­mends sprint­ing later – 25 to 50 me­tres past where you’d nor­mally start

– to min­imise your time in the wind. In a tail­wind, your speed will be higher, so you’ll sprint for a shorter time. Start early for the best ad­van­tage. How early de­pends on con­di­tions – the size of the pack, how you’re feel­ing, the wind speed and di­rec­tion, and more. Prac­tise in dif­fer­ent con­di­tions with friends to fine-tune your tim­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.