Article by Omega Pharma Quick Step
Setting up a good lead-out can be essential in order to win a bike race. This is a perfect example of how cycling really is a team sport and there are several key elements in this lead-out. One of these elements is the 2nd last man, the one that launches the sprinter.
There are a few things that a last man has to take care of:
– Protect the sprinter during the last km’s
– Deliver the sprinter in a perfect position to the last 150-200m
– Do this at the highest possible end speed
– Accelerate firm but steady, so the increase in speed isn’t too brutal. The faster you’ll accelerate the more energy this costs for the sprinter in the wheel
– Don’t waste unnecessary energy before the final, so he arrives to his lead out at full power
In the figure below you can see the gradual build up of the speed during the last 7 km’s. These are average speeds, which is influenced by corners, wind, etc. Nevertheless you can see how a lead-out train gradually builds up the speed, with a big increase during the last 2 km.
In the figure below you can see the power output for a last man during the last 7 km’s, averaged per km. As you can see his power output always stays below 400 W until they reach the final kilometer. This power output is still below the point where he starts to accumulate lactate, so he can really save his energy until his final lead-out starts.
The details of the power output during the final 800m show the image of a perfect lead out. The power output stays low until the moment the last man has to launch his lead out, so he can start his lead out with all his available energy. When he starts his lead out, he increases his power output gradually. In this way he doesn’t accelerate too fast, so he spares his sprinter. It also makes sure he can maintain his power output during his lead out, so the speed will continue to increase gradually and other teams have no chance to pass. Thereby he drops off his sprinting captain with the perfect speed at the perfect distance to the finish line.
See the article here: http://www.omegapharma-quickstep.com/en/blog/show/the-last-man/1212