How nutrition is essential to improve your cycling sprint

Elena Casiraghi, PhD – Equipe Enervit
Gran Fondos are amateur cycling races with a large following base in Italy, who every year populate the most beautiful Italian roads to compete with many others and live a healthy and engaging sports experience.

Among these great cycling races, Nove Colli (Nine Hills) is among of the most fascinating ones, and every year it renews its charm. To run the Queen of the Gran Fondo, as it is known, cyclists and enthusiasts, who arrive in Romagna from all over Italy and Europe, must have trained hard to give their best on the 210 km Romagna’s roads that connect the nine hills: Rivoschio, Ciola, Barbotto, Tiffi, Perticara, Pugliano, Siepi and Gorolo.

The sprint in the Nove Colli

Everyone, without exception, must deal with the consistency of a route that goes up and down, with slopes as steep as 18% and a height differential from start to finish of over 3,840 meters. Not only is the Nove Colli made of climbs, but the race also lights up in speed. The Nove Colli Committee rewarded the fastest rider and cyclist on a 2km sprint. Racing times were tracked in front of the Technogym Village.
Everyone, without exception, must deal with the consistency of a route that goes up and down, with slopes as steep as 18% and a height differential from start to finish of over 3,840 meters. Not only is the Nove Colli made of climbs, but the race also lights up in speed. The Nove Colli Committee rewarded the fastest rider and cyclist on a 2km sprint. Racing times were tracked in front of the Technogym Village.

The Technogym Sprint, beginning on the 13th km from the start, consisted on a 2km straight line of asphalt where every rider was able to unleash his own pedals and reach top speed. The performance was favored by the morphology of the track, a 3kms long road that allowed to sprint to the finish line.

What is a sprint?

The sprint is the moment where the athlete reaches his or her top speed and maintains it for the longest possible time. The term is used mainly in speed races. In cycling, the sprint is also known as the term dash, or the moment of acceleration in view of the finish line, which is usually 200 meters long.
In order to prepare optimally for the sprint sections, training is undoubtedly fundamental. However, let's remember, it cannot be separated from an adequate nutritional strategy. Which one? Let's find it out together.

Here are the tips for feeding and working on an effective sprint

  1. Kick off your sprint with saturated energies
  2. Follow the right diet before the sprint
  3. What to eat in your pre-race breakfast
  4. Prepare in grids to sprint

In the sprint, you start with the saturated energies

It is advisable to present yourself at the start of a race with a sprint with ample saturated glycogen reserves. Indeed, the advantage in performance can become significant. In practice, you can achieve an increase in the time of exhaustion of about 20%, reduce the time required to complete the distance of 2-3% and, finally, decrease the perception of fatigue. An appropriate dietary strategy to perform best during the sprint starts the day before the competition. In fact, a carbohydrate-based diet taken in the days before the race serves to restore the reserves of muscle glycogen, whereas if you ingest carbohydrates in the hours leading up to the start of the Gran Fondo, you can optimize the reserves of liver glycogen - i.e. the ones you need for short bouts of energy like the sprint.

Keeping right diet before the Gran Fondo

Knowing what to eat during the 3 days preceding the Gran Fondo and giving your best in case of the sprint, is a great first step towards a race lived without the fear of running into unpleasant situations. Here are the tips:

  • Carbohydrates: consume 5-7 g carbohydrates per kilo of body weight per day, obviously to be divided into each meal and snack. Cyclists may also take less as they are already used to a low-carb diet.
  • Protein: Keep a protein intake of no less than 0.3 g of protein per kilo of body weight in each meal.
  • Pay attention to fibers: reduce the intake of vegetables, fruit, legumes and whole grains until you can eat without them
  • Avoid fasting: eat snacks and avoid long hours of fasting
  • Hydration: stay hydrated, considering that every gram of carbohydrate binds 3 g of water;
  • Cocoa: To keep you trained in the days before the race, despite the reduction of miles, and to keep your muscles oxygenated, take dietary supplements for sportsmen based on cocoa polyphenols, such as Enervit Just Flow or Enervit Carbo Flow.

Breakfast before the race and sprint: here are our proposals

Taking care of the diet before the race and specifically of the breakfast before the race is one of the factors for the success of any competition, sprint included. First rule: don't get stuffed on food. You are not used to ingesting food at dawn and this meal will only serve you to restore that small amount of liver glycogen consumed in the few hours of sleep.
Here are some proposals:

  • 1-2 scoops of Enervit Carbo Flow with tepid water and a slice of toast or whole-wheat biscuits with jam
  • 1-2 scoops of Enervit Carbo Flow with tepid water and a slice of toast with ham
  • 1 scoop of Enervit Carbo Flow with lean white or soy yogurt, oatmeal, dried fruit or muesli
  • Rice milk/soy/oat/almond with oat flakes and dehydrated fruit or muesli
  • Rusks/toast bread with jam and dried fruit

You can add tea or coffee if you are already used to it. Furthermore, remember to stay hydrated with water and Enervit Isotonic Drink in diluted concentration until you start.

Onto the start line: eating and training for a sprint

While you're on the grid, the advice is to prescribe the supplements you'll be using during the Gran Fondo. Carefully place them in your pockets - they'll be easier to find during your workout. While you wait, it consumes one last portion of energy. But beware: energy supplements are not all the same. In this phase, in fact, the solution we would like to suggest is Enervit Pre Sport gelatin, as it has been specifically designed for this purpose. Alternatively, the Enervit Power Sport Competition Cocoa Bar is also a good choice.
After the start, use the first few kilometers to oxygenate your muscles and regularize your heartbeat for the sprint: don't forget that your heart is also a muscle. Two kilometers from the sprint, it's time to feed your muscles with rapidly available energy to better support the sprint. Then take an Enervit Sport Gel One Hand: it is a small portion of carbohydrates, about half of that contained in a common gel, a practice to be consumed with one hand even in the most hectic phases of the race. This will be your strategy to give gas to your engine and push your pedals to the maximum, adding energy to the remaining kilometers of your race.

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