Moving from a seated position to a standing one can launch you clear of the pack. However, a trick used by 2017 white-jersey winner Simon Yates is the ability to maintain that standing-on-the-pedals position, which offers advantages over extended periods.
Former Elite-level racer Tim Elverson shows how it can work for you too.
1. Know your cadence
Yates isn’t necessarily a high cadence climber, but he’s riding in a gear that he’s comfortable with and not trying to push something too big. He will know from testing what his premium cadence is, and, if he notices that drop, he can use being out of the saddle to inject pace and get the speed back up.
2. Hard core
There is a lot of gym work involved in developing the core to be solid enough for you to really drive and push with the legs rather than using your bodyweight for extended periods of time. Yates looks good, and comfortable, and I’m sure he’s worked on it.
3. Steepness is your friend
The steeper the climb gets, the more comfortable you’ll feel riding out of the saddle, so this is often best saved until you need it — unless you’re big and have run out of gears. You might want to stay up if the gradient or pace ebbs and flows, as you’re more primed to respond.
4. Staying ahead
You have to climb where you’re most comfortable, and your body composition will decide that to a point. You need to get to a place where you are happy standing up and putting yourself ahead of the bottom bracket. That’s where your power will be best transferred to the bike.
5. Weight watching
There aren’t many people who can ride these long stretches out of the saddle with a swagger, but Yates has clearly worked at it and has the natural advantage of being a light climber. If you’re carrying kilos you don’t need, it will always be harder with more weight to support.
6. Early riser
This is something Simon has clearly practised. If you start a climb out of the saddle you tend to stay out better. If you start in the saddle and only get up once the lactate is building, it feels harder because the muscles are already fatigued, so the timing is key.
Practice makes perfect
When I watch Simon Yates tackle whole climbs out of the saddle, I can’t comprehend it because my quads would be burning. If it’s something that you want to do, then you have to target it in your training.
Alberto Contador has said he trains for up to 20 minutes continuously out of the saddle and Yates must do the same. You would have to. The key factor is to know your optimum cadence, and practice riding for long spells at that cadence out of the saddle. Over time you will find that it becomes increasingly comfortable.