Discover Your Rider Type

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Republished from Cycling On Form: A Pro Method of Riding Faster and Stronger by Tom and Kourtney Danielson, with permission of VeloPress.

Train Smart by Staying True to Your Natural Abilities

Each cyclist has a unique rider type. Do you know yours, and do you train to take advantage of it? Your rider type is a product—and representation—of your natural-born mental and physical capabilities. These are your own God-given talents and gifts. But your unique capabilities need to be cultivated, and it’s your responsibility to hone them. It’s tempting to compare yourself to other riders, even those stronger than you. It’s all too easy to see their results, KOMs, and power numbers. But instead of looking at other people and trying to emulate them, you should understand who you are, what you want to do, and where your current level is. Specifically work your way, your pace. Spend your precious time and energy identifying and developing your personal rider type, and then become the best version of the kind of rider you are.

To train according to your rider type, you need to first identify what that is. Take the following quiz, identify your rider type, then learn more about the unique traits that you can then target in your training. You’ll find 4 workouts for each rider type.

[Take the Rider Type Quiz here.]

Rider Types Explained

Classics Time Trial Rider
The classics time trial rider is an endurance-centric athlete who matches this ability with unmatched short, explosive power, creating a unique ability to time trial. They are the hard men and women of cycling who embrace difficult terrain, harsh conditions, and adventure. They can ride solo off the front of a group, climb medium-length hills well, time trial strongly, and ride at a high level in the peloton. Classics TT Riders have a very specific way of doing things, which lends itself to a certain degree of stubbornness. If this develops, they can get in their own way. Whether it’s at a spring classic or a gravel event, these athletes are gritty and are not shaken easily.

Ideal Races/Events
Rolling endurance events
Events with rough terrain or difficult weather conditions like rain, wind, cold, or mud
Short and long time trials
Endurance time trials

The puncheur is an explosive athlete who uses their power in short bursts on climbs 2 to 8 minutes in length. They are the most feared riders on these short climbs due to their ability to drop both the sprinters and the mountain climbers with incredible bursts of power uphill. They thrive on rides with rolling to shark- tooth profiles, but are able to hold their own on flat, high-speed routes because of their strength. Puncheurs can also use their short but explosive power bursts to do well in short TTs or long, hard field sprints. These riders are quite well built, as far as cyclists go, with broader shoulders and bigger legs; they tend to seem the most balanced physically. Their attacking style of riding often comes into play near the end of long stages as the day’s break is being reeled in, or in stages that end in a short, steep climb.

Ideal Races/Events
Endurance events with short, punchy climbs
Short time trials
Shorter road races with explosive uphill finishes

The climber is the most romantic rider in cycling’s culture. Climbers use their unique style and body dynamics to ascend roads that most others fear. These featherweight riders seem almost as if they are dancing up the big climbs. They thrive on longer, mountainous ascents where the speed drops and drafting benefits are limited. Pacing and clearing lactate are vital. Due to their low weight, climbers are able to put in repeated accelerations to drop heavier rivals. Their high endurance levels enable them to recover quickly.

Ideal Races/Events
Mountaintop finish during stage races
Mountainous one-day events
Hill climbs

Classics Sprinter
The classics sprinter is an endurance-centric athlete who converts unmatched short, explosive power into a potent sprint. They are also hard-men and -women of cycling who embrace difficult terrain, harsh conditions, and adventure. They can make the key selections on short climbs, crosswinds, or rough terrain, and can ride at a high level in the peloton. Then, this rider closes the deal by beating everyone in a finish-line sprint.

Classics sprinters frequently have to put out giant efforts at big speeds in a very chaotic and dangerous environment. They hide in the peloton, conserving energy and waiting until it’s their turn to launch. They rely heavily on their teammates, but ultimately it’s up to them to get the job done. They cover moves, following the train to outsprint the less-explosive riders at the end of a grueling race. They have a keen ability to read the race and react accordingly. Their downfall is that they are often overconfident in their own abilities, so they don’t always do the necessary positioning to set themselves up for the win. They aren’t afraid of situations others would deem dangerous, so they are predisposed to taking risks unnecessarily, leading to crashes.

Ideal Races/Events
Endurance events on rolling terrain
Events with rough terrain or difficult weather conditions like rain, wind, cold, or mud
Gravel races
Short time trials
Shorter road races

Cycling On Form: A Pro Method of Riding Faster & Stronger by Tom Danielson reveals how the pros train: by training the whole rider. Danielson shows how you can ride like the pros by training your weaknesses and racing your strengths.

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    Cycling On Form

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