Updated December 10th 2019

This is an updated blog from last year when Sam Bennett had an amazing year. Multiple wins in major races and very close to winning three stages in the Giro d’Italia.

What a great win he had had in Paris Nice in 2017. Was the foundations of this win outlined by him in an interview in the Irish times in December 2016?

Dec 23 2016 Irish times

Twelve months ago Sam Bennett expressed optimism that a changed approach to training would result in performance improvements but, heading into 2017, he has decided to return to his previous way of doing things.

The Carrick-on-Suir rider is Ireland’s best sprinter and is hoping that his readjusted approach will yield greater results next season.

From 90 to 260kgs on the leg press machine

“I have changed a few things,” he told The Irish Times. “Last year I was really working hard on my sprinting.

Say in the gym, I went from 90 kilos to 260 kilos on the leg press. But it didn’t add any extra power on the bike.

I don’t know why it didn’t show in the sprint. All I did was gain muscle and weight and I had to carry it all season.

“Now I have gone back to being myself. Just letting the body work with what I have, using my ability to the best.

I think if I am lighter than other sprinters, then I should use that – come to the finish fresher rather than look for extra power in the sprint.”

Get to the finish fresh!

“come to the finish fresher rather than look for extra power in the sprint.” In my opinion in this sentence he has identified the number one rule for a Professional road sprinter.

In the long hard professional races most of the riders arrive at the finish with a certain amount of fatigue.

It might often be the case that its not always the fastest rider who wins but the sprinter who reaches the finish with less fatigue than the rest of the sprinters.

Getting the kilometres in the legs

This is the main reason that Professional road cyclists do mega bike sessions of multiple hours on consecutive days as well as ride stage races when preparing for the Grand Tours. its the last section of the race when the real winning and losing is usually done in these events. Not much use being the fastest sprinter in the first 50 km if you can’t sprint after 200 kms with the Pros.

The sprinters pain

I often wonder what it must feel like trying to sprint flat out after 200 -250 kms of hard professional racing.

Obviously very painful!!  Sprinting when fresh during training or after short races is difficult enough.

So getting to the finish in good shape is going to make a huge difference in the amount of power that can be applied in the sprint.

So to be a better road sprinter, do you really need to work more on your sprint or your endurance?

Well done Sam  Bennett, a great season and great interview after the race.. Best wishes for a great 2020

Note: in regard to weight / strength training. There is good evidence that the correct type and amount of weight training can benefit road cyclists. Its all about balance. A track sprinter and road sprinter have different needs,

Paddy Doran High Performance cycling Coach. For great training programmes

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