The Douchebag Way.

Sprinting is a combination of well-timed, high-intensity, short-duration power and positioning. Two things. That's pretty much all there is to it.
The first is easy enough. You train to maximize whatever sprinting potential is contained in your DNA. Repeated all-in efforts with a little recovery/vomiting in between them until your legs fall off. Training for explosive efforts, designed to create separation or enable you to come out of a draft just before the line. As much as it sucks, it's actually the easy part.
The hard part is positioning. Picking that one wheel to follow to the finish that will provide you with the best launching pad. Assessing over the course of the race who is likely going to be well-positioned when the line is approaching. Calculating how far back to be in the last minutes of the race, fighting to not get pushed off of your chosen wheel, abandoning your lead-out man when a better option presents itself, avoiding getting boxed in... all of those sorts of decisions you make when you're anaerobic and wishing for a quick end to the suffering.
This is the part I suck at. I rarely pick the right wheel, and I often find myself boxed in at the worst possible times. My lead-out man peels off earlier than I anticipated, leaving me in the wind much too far from the line. If there's a way to screw up a sprint finish, I'll usually hone in on it with laser precision.
If I do manage to find the right wheel and things go my way, I'm usually in there with a chance for the win, but that doesn't happen very often. Maybe two or three times a year. If I'm lucky.
Some guys have the Bugatti Veyron engine of a Peter Sagan to win on varied terrain from varying distances. My engine is more Vespa than Veyron, so I have to pick my moments more carefully. If the pace running into the finish is too high for too long, I don't have much left in the tank for any sort of explosive effort, and the explosion heard is usually me falling out of contention. If I've worked on my diesel, putting in a lot of miles, I can usually last a bit longer, but there are some riders that I will never be able to match.
I'm still learning to read the race. I have noticed that it's a lot easier to read when you're not bleeding out of your eyes, so the plan is to build a more well-rounded base of fitness this winter in preparation for next season. A small child in a germ-pool daycare might have a different plan that trumps mine, but it's fun to dream.


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