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How To Sprint Like Mark Cavendish On Your Bicycle

Updated on August 3, 2012
CyclingFitness profile image

Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist and lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.

Mark Cavendish at London 2012

Mark Cavendish in his usual position at the end of his sprint train. Pictured at the London 2012 Olympic Road Race
Mark Cavendish in his usual position at the end of his sprint train. Pictured at the London 2012 Olympic Road Race | Source

Cycling sprint workouts to help you sprint like Cavendish

Mark Cavendish, 2011 World Road race Champion is a demon of a sprinter who specialises in the flatter race finishes in cycling events such as the Tour De France. He is the most successful British Road Cyclist in the history of the sport and to many is the greatest sprinter the sport of professional cycling has ever seen,

Nicknamed 'The Manx Missile' due to his upbringing on the Isle of Mann, Many wish to emulate the great champion and sprint like Mark Cavendish.

You may never get to the dizzy heights of the Tour De France however these techniques can help you towards sprint success in competitive cycling events and give you an insight into Mark Cavendish's amazing sprinting ability

How to Sprint- Have a strong base fitness first

There's no logic in maxing out on sprint training for your cycling if you can't get to the finish line with the peloton so make sure you don't neglect your regular base, muscular endurance and threshold training. You need to get to that bunch sprint near the front of the bunch to be able to win it!.

Mark Cavendish Winning on the Champs Elysees, Paris, France

Learn to turn your legs fast like Mark Cavendish

When you watch a sprinter powering towards a race victory one thing you notice is that despite all the raw strength and brute force powering them along their legs are flying around at an incredible cadence.

Mark Cavendish will be sprinting at a cadence of over 120 rpm in one of his highest gears. This takes both amazing power and leg speed.

Train to Sprint like Cavendish; Leg Speed

Mark Cavendish has phenomenal leg speed which helps him accelerate up to and maintain his maximal sprint speed.

  • Practice spinning up to maximum cadence on a turbo trainer with moderate resistance
  • Short sprints on the road to develop leg speed and technique
  • Road sign/ village sign sprints on group rides to encourage competition

A great way to develop cycling leg speed is to get yourself a set of cycling rollers for indoor cycling as they force you to turn the pedals at an extremely high cadence.

Improve your sprint for more successful bicycle racing

Improve your cycling sprint to win races like Mark Cavendish. A little changes to your training can yeald great results
Improve your cycling sprint to win races like Mark Cavendish. A little changes to your training can yeald great results | Source

Develop awesome leg power for a better cycling sprint

When most people hit the guy they do the same thing all the time. 8-10 repetitions per set at a steady rate with moderate weights. This is not worthwhile if you want to get stronger or more powerful for cycling. Your muscles don't work in the same way as many people lift weights.

Weight training for power development

While maybe cycling coaches dispute the ability of strength training to further develop a trained cyclist it is worthwhile to note how much time track cyclists spend in the gym as part of their training. Many track cyclists have over recent years developed into extremely successful sprinters on the road. Mark Cavendish comes from a successful track cycling background and this has been pivotal in his development into the worlds best sprint cyclist.

In the gym

Concentrate on muscles used for cycling. Mainly the quads, hanstrings, calves and hip flexor muscles, as well as the muscles of the back which help pump the arms and upper body for momentum while sprinting.

Concentrate on gym exercises which replicate the movements of cycling

  • Squats
  • Calf Raises
  • Dumbbell Row
  • Deadlift

Also consider Plyometric training to develop your leg power

Mark Cavendish winning the World Race Race Championships 2011

Weight training on the bike

Hit the hills in a bigger than usual gear to help develop some additional leg strength. Practive powering over short climbs out of the saddle as if they're a sprint and these will help you develop the leg power for sprinting in different race situations as not all race finishes are on flat roads

Read More: Mark Cavendish- Boy Racer


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    • Winsome profile image


      6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Very helpful CF, I ride different bikes and different terrain, but I find I don't ride enough hard rides to allow me to sprint uphill without getting winded. How can I concentrate on that task in my workouts to build wind and aerobic capacity? =:)

    • CyclingFitness profile imageAUTHOR

      Liam Hallam 

      6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks INFjay. He's probably the best sprinter I've ever seen. Yesterday's win with little support late on was amazing. Thanks for your comment

    • INFJay profile image

      Jay Manriquez 

      6 years ago from Santa Rosa, California

      Cavendish is an incredible sprinter. It was so exciting watching him at the 2011 Tour de France. Excellent tips too!


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