Re: Irrefutable Truths and Cycling TrainingFirst off a lot of people talking of Fergie's theories. There is no Fergie theory! Every time I think I have an original idea I re-read the article or get reminded that someone did it first.
If I appear to be a stickler for specificity it is because I have been fortunate to coach people from track sprint racing, short distance track TTs (flying 200m, standing 500m and 1000m), pursuit (2-4km), mass start events, teams pursuit, road race, criterium, stage race, time trial, cross country MTB, BMX, Downhill MTB, 4 Cross and Dual Slalom, males and females, young and old. Newbie through to professional and the most obvious thing that stands out is every event has different physiological, psychological and biomechanical demands.
Once you have assessed the rider in terms of their event you need to determine the best way to prepare them for the big day. The other option is to train all the components of fitness. Maximise endurance, maximise strength, maximise flexibility, maximise power etc. But where do you draw the line. We all know that there are far stronger athletes than track sprinters. We know a rhythmic gymnast will have greater flexibility than a cyclist (and gymnasts are banned from cycling by most coaches) a ultra marathon runner will have more endurance than TdF riders (didn't some guy run a marathon a day non stop for 26 days or similar) and a Olympic Weightlifter has so much power that they could outrun an track and field runner over 30metres (well in 1968 they could when they compared several Olympic sports). Will all this extra capacity (or base) actually help us to perform better?
In the gym it amuses me to hear S&C coaches advocate that while body builders train muscles, athletes train movements and then prescribe a variety of exercises to to theoretically train the same movement. If we go back to our two methods of improving strength which is either hypertrophy (reread the post where Hoy wished he didn't have 66cm thighs as it was a large mass to accelerate and a lot of area to punch through the wind at 70kph) or improving the message from the brain to the muscle to act in a certain way. So if there is a difference in the message between a squat and a deadlift (even if both are hip extn and knee extn) then who do people propose that training one message in the gym will improve the message from the brain to the muscles that move you forward on the bike?
DM has hit the nail on the head with mentioning overload. If a Kilo rider was to just turn up and ride a Kilo and go home then odds are it would not really overload the body. Better to break it down and do efforts at or above true Kilo pace and repeat till overload is achieved.
In terms of specificity I would have this person do this type of training on the track, in race kit, on race bike and on the track they intend to perform on. This is optimal but the current US record holder for flying 200m and standing 1000m was (not sure if still is) training on the road using spray painted markings to do track simulations. I trained a guy who was hours from the track to a Masters World Sprint Title who did all his speed work on a track bike rolling off a hill to get up to speed. But the optimal is on the track The biggest chunk of BCF spending on Sprinters is hiring track time to do their efforts and practise actual sprinting.
The big hitch is who could train with race level intensity all year round? Charlie Francis kept his sprinters within 95% of race speed all year round and had three peaks for indoor worlds, trials or Nationals, and Olympics, Commonwealth Games or World Champs. Brent Rushall suggests that if fit a sprinter can attain peak speed in 4 weeks of fully specific training and for endurance athletes if fit can achieve maximal aerobic power within 12 weeks.
The "fit" is where NZ coaching icon Arthur Lydiard comes in. His LSD programmes were not really about base it was about conditioning. Being fit enough to handle the hard training and racing. While I can achieve close to max power I have no condition at present so a 100km race would take me two weeks to recover from whereas a Tour de France Pro has to race 150-230km day in and day out for 21 days. The top Aussie coach Charlie Walsh was asked why his teams pursuit riders did 38,000-45,000km a year on the road in preparation for a 4000 metres event that took just over 4min and his response was if they didn't (and sometimes the selectors would thrust riders into the team who hadn't done the miles) couldn't hack the volume of speed work (overload!!!) and couldn't recover between sessions. Like Lydiards Max Aerobic Pace these kms were ridden hard. 300km bunch rides at 40-42kph and according to Erin Hartwell (who joined the Aussies till he beat Shane Kelly) even the Kilo riders (63sec event) were doing a lot of these rides.
I personally think those ks were excessive and when the Aussies smashed the World Record in 2004 for teams pursuit they did it on half the Ks they had done in the Walsh era. But this was also now the Professional era where road race hardened riders where given a short period to get their speed up and ride the Teams Pursuit as witnessed bu the French in 1996 (two riders 4 weeks out of TdF), 2000 with the Germans 14 days out from a months of road racing, 2004 with riders like Magee hot off the Tour and 2008 with the riders like Wiggins having ridden the Giro. Best effort was Magee in 2002 riding one of the fastest 4000m pursuits 2 days after finishing the Tour de France. His only speed work was leading out Baden Cooke for the Green Jersey.
So back to Tony's question my answer would be that analysis of a track sprint vs a road sprint would reveal they are two very different beasts and their training should be very different. For many roadies training for a sprint is a waste till they do the training to get them to the finish in any shape to actually contest the sprint.
Having just spent two days down the track in Invercargill as our NZ team head off to Beijing World Cup one tip I would have is that there is a psychological and biomechanical component to the sport! I saw time and time again a lot of people who could probably create crazy power and power over time but on the track, against experienced and motivated competition were powerless because they couldn't apply this power, when it was needed, how it was needed or were to far back to even be in serious contention for the final lap.
YMMV. Principle of individuality.