Understanding Your Rider Type (Part 1 of 4)

This is the first of a 4 part series of

1. Understanding your rider type
2. Training based on your rider type
3. Race tactics based on your rider type
4. Matching a bike to your rider type.


Chapter 1: What type of rider are you?

The answer to this question can be the key to your understanding of how to improve your training focus, race tactics, bike selection, and ultimately your enjoyment of the sport.

Let us start with a quiz:


From this quiz, you may have experienced an “aha!” moment where suddenly you understand why for example you didn’t climb so well but were great at pulling the bunch into a strong headwind, or that you always managed to pull away from your bunch in a sprint.

Let’s briefly discuss some of these rider types.


The Sprinter 



The Sprinter seldom appears at the front of the bunch in a headwind or on a climb but always manages to be in the mix in the last 1km of a race.
Typically has great bike handling skills, courage and daring.


Examples of sprinters would be:

-Mark Cavendish
-Robbie McEwan
-Sean Kelly
-Mario Cipolinni


One of my personal favourites for unpredictable raw power but never in a straight line, is the Tashkent terror -Djamolidine Abdoujaparov. 

So… no Peter Sagan here? Read on. 



The Climber

Photo: http://inrng.com


is not usually at home on the front of the bunch into a headwind or in a flat sprint at the end of a race. However, the pure climbers will be licking their lips at the prospect of a >10% climb, and the longer it is, the more they will feel in their element. They will cause damage on the rest of the bunch.
Modern climbers also must have superior descending skills to stake their claim to the podium at the end of a hilly race as many races have multiple climbs. As the saying goes, what goes up must come down.

Climbers are typically light – around 50 kgs – which gives them a high power-to-weight advantage on the longer climbs. Individual and team tactics play a role in delivering the climber to the right place at the right time in a race to extract maximum advantage. Climbers typically can feature well as stage winners, but seldom a major tour winner.


Examples of great climbers:

– Marco Pantani
– Claudio Ciapuchi
– Fausto Coppi
– Nairo Quintana 
– Alberto Contador 


The Time Triallist



Time Trialling (TT) is another specialist skill, in this case of being able to hold a maximum effort for a long period of time. Often called the ‘Race of Truth’ as there is no drafting and no place to hide, and its totally on your own effort.
Time Trialists who are also above average climbers are contenders for the classic stage races, particularly where there is a longer TT stage.

Miguel Indurain (Big Mig) is an excellent example of this. At 78kgs and 180 cm tall, he is an unlikely build for a pro bike racer, but his superior TT skills and capable climbing led to him winning the Tour De France for 5 consecutive years (1991-1995).


Other famous Time trialists:
– David Millar
– Ellen van Dijk 
– Tony Martin
– Tom Dumoulin
– Fabian Cancellara


The All-Rounder 


This rider is selected by a team based on all-round skills as having the best chance of winning the overall General Classification (GC) in a stage race. Team and individual race tactics play a major role in the GC win. Strong teams protect their designated rider and deliver them to critical moments in a race as fresh as possible to allow them their moment to shine for the team.


Famous Team Leaders:

– Eddy Merckx
– Chris Froome
– Greg Lemond
– Bernard Hinault
– Stephen Roche
– Cadel Evans


The Puncheur


Puncheur is a name given to a road cyclist who specialises in rolling terrain with short but steep climbs.
Ideal races for this type of rider are the one-day spring classics, or in Southeast Asia cycling terms, namely Tour de Phuket (8 – 10 Mar 2019) or Tour de Bintan (29 – 31 Mar 2019).
These races are characterised by multiple hills that have a 10–20% gradient and are 1–2 km long. Examples include climbs at Liege-Bastogne_Liege and Ardennes classics.

Puncheurs are usually relatively well built, with broader shoulders and bigger legs than the average racing cyclist. The physique of this type of rider allows them to escape from the peloton through quick bursts, sometimes with the assistance of a teammate.


Examples of Sprinters:

– Philippe Gilbert,
 – Julian Alaphilippe, 
– Simon Gerrans,
– Joaquim Rodríguez,
– Eddy Merckx (great all-rounder with a Puncheur build)

and of course, Peter Sagan.


The Domestique


The Domestique is a member of a bicycle-racing team who assists the leader by setting a pace, preventing breakaways by other teams, or supplying food during a race.

We will discuss the role of the domestique further in our chapter on tactics based on your rider type.

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