Technique – Big Ring Sprints

How to demand more from the big ring

Hone your sprint skills and explode to the front

If you’ve already been doing sprint sessions, then you should now be ready to move on to some more demanding workouts.


How to do big ring surges

This drill is designed to get your bike and your fast-twitch muscles ready for some big ring acceleration. Think of it as an attack launch coming from the back of the breakaway group, stealth enough to create a gap and get away with it.

1 After a good warm-up, shift into the big chain-ring and the middle of the rear block.

2 Cruise along at about 20kph.

3 When ready, stay seated and accelerate hard up to a cadence of 90-100rpm for 15-30 seconds or so.

4 Allow yourself approximately three minutes’ rest between each effort and repeat 5-10 times.

How to execute big ring sprints

We now finally get to the real deal and you have the chance to play out your Cavendish or McEwen fantasies with your mates. Before we get onto the actual drill, first make sure your bike is well maintained and isn’t going to fail on you when you’re putting all your force through it.

Important checks to do first:

  • Check all bolts are tight, especially the handlebars.
  • Check  that your chain and cassette are in good condition. A slipped gear or broken chain would be no laughing matter when sprinting.
  • Check the quick releases of both wheels and the tyre walls for any signs of perishing. A wheel jolted loose or a tyre wall blow-out while accelerating hard will definitely slow you down. 

Also, think about your form. Although standing out of the saddle, your hands should be on the drops for increased leverage on your handlebars and better aerodynamics.

1 After a warm-up, get into your big ring and the middle of the rear block (19 cog).

2 Stand up and jump hard through that gear and the next two cogs with your top-end speed.

3 Do this twice from your 19 cog with approximately 3-5 minutes between each effort.

4 Repeat this same process from the 17, 16, 15 and 14 cogs, all with 3-5 minutes’ rest between each.


This is an extremely demanding session so, to reap the rewards of it, make sure you allow your body to recover properly.