Updated 4th February 2021

Building the performance pyramid for cycling success

Making the difference! a targeted approach.

As we head towards another cycling season and there are dreams of great performances in races or personal best times for sportives how are those dreams going to be achieved?

The factors that will deliver the performances come under a few headings.

Physical – Mental – Tactical –Technical/ skill – lifestyle

The performance pyramid

THe pyramid for top cycling performance

Build strong foundations for big cycling performance results

You will notice that I have the Mental component running alongside the others.

The reason for that is that in my opinion mental fitness depends to a large extent on how all the other components are developed.


The more competencies the cyclist has the higher their confidence levels will usually be. 

Skill development is the first step in feeling competent and boosting confidence.

I have seen many strong cyclists who  were unable to cycle well in groups, corner well or use their gears well and struggled because of that..

Beginners Limiting factors

For beginners one of the most limiting factors that we when coaching newcomers to cycling is technique / skills. The cyclist might be coming from a different sport and have an excellent physical fitness capacity.

However there is more to cycling than just Physical fitness. Wind resistance and aerodynamics play a huge part in Cycling, So if a cyclist can not cycle close enough to get shelter from other cyclists, its most likely only a matter of time before they are dropped if a group is moving very fast into headwind or side winds.


A leading cyclist could be putting out 400 watts when cycling at the front. Another cyclist in the same group who is very good at getting shelter within the group might be working at only 250 Watts. so the sheltered cyclist is getting a big advantage in this situation and will tire less quickly that the leader


Technique from the Oxford dictionary: “a way of carrying out a particular task, especially the execution or performance of an artistic work or a scientific procedure:”

Skills from the Oxford dictionary: “the ability to do something well; expertise”

Experienced cyclists limiting factors

A lot of experienced cyclists don’t know how to train correctly. They often have very poor knowledge of training principles and nutrition for sport.

Beginners should focus on skill

For the purpose of this blog we will concentrate on beginners.  A4 riders and riders who are training for sportive challenges.

Beginners will get huge improvements from improving techniques like being able to safely hold position in a group.

Using the best cadences and gears for different situations. Cornering safely, braking, learning how to sprint.

Without a good skill level the rider will be wasting energy by being poorly positioned and not getting shelter from the wind.

They will also lose also time on corners or climbs. They will then burn lots of energy to get back to the group .


This also impacts on the amount of stress which leads to further fatigue and lessens enjoyment of the cycling experience.

The good news is that in most cases with good coaching this can be improved very quickly.

The difference it makes to a cyclists confidence and enjoyment of cycling is huge.

So if you are a beginner put some time and effort into technical development.

How to improve

Join a good cycling club who cater for different abilities and have experienced mentors on their club sessions and ask them for advice.


Introduce working in smaller groups at higher speeds as technique improves.

Improve some of the skills while out cycling alone. For example try different cadences at various speeds to develop a feel for what cadence best suits you. Learn how to drink and eat safely while cycling. Change cycling intensities to develop a sense of pace at various efforts and distance.  

Practice changing gears and braking until everything is happening automically.

Safe Environment

Do these sessions in a safe environment away from traffic.

A small local traffic free circuit would be ideal and if the circuit has plenty of corners your cornering can be improved also.

Women should go to http://womenscycling.ie/blog/ or to the Biggest race in Ireland Ras Na Mban  There there are usually notices about specific coaching sessions for women that cater for all abilities and level of experience.

Organise coaching sessions through the club or as an individual, look for some coaching sessions with qualified coaches.

Experienced cyclists

Work with an experienced qualified coach. learn the principles of training and nutrition. 

Check our blogs 

Check our Blogs there are many blogs there that cover various aspect of cycling that could be helpful for building experience and skills. 

Ask the simple question is what you or your club doing making improvements in performances and results year on year.

Have you seen my introduction to cycling booklet?

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Written by Paddy Doran, winner of cycling Coach of the year – Coach Tutor of the year.  Coach to successful club – national – international and professional cyclists.

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Paddy Doran coach at www.peakendurancecoaching.ie is a very successful level 3 cycling coach and tutor.


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