Today’s question is about when to come out of the saddle during a Time Trial (TT,) specifically what to do at the finish line…

I have a question about when it’s best to come out of the saddle in a TT. I certainly understand doing it at the start and possibly if cranking up an incline, but I often see riders doing it at the finish. I find that I prefer to just keep my head down and drive through the finish since it’s generally flat terrain conducive to a 30+ mph pace anyway. At that speed, it seems like getting out of the saddle makes you extremely non-aerodynamic. Am I wrong or is it just a preference thing for each cyclist?

Stan InTheSaddle

Hi Stan,

That’s an excellent question!

I think you’re on the right track. Staying in the saddle is almost always the best method, barring the start line and possibly on steep hills. And the better your TT equipment and position, the less you would want to break position. And if you have energy left over for a sprint finish that is somehow faster than your current aero position, you didn’t do a good job pacing yourself for the time trial!

One rule of thumb is, at 23mph or above, stay in your aero position. 20-23mph is kind of a gray area, but really, staying seated is still probably better.

You didn’t say anything about the riders you see standing at the finish line, but unless they are top pros or you know they are highly skilled, I wouldn’t worry about what they’re doing.

If they are just average local racers, they may be misguided, thinking every race has a sprint finish. Mass start races have sprint finishes because the sprinters try to rest as much as possible during the race to save energy for a sprint finish. That’s not how you ride a TT!

Also, if they’re riding on a regular road bike with no aero equipment, maybe it is just a tad faster to sprint. By getting out of the saddle, they’re losing less of an aero advantage than they would if they were going 30+ mph on a dedicated TT machine.

I’m a big fan of testing different methods, so you could test what is faster for you, but in this case, I think you’re spot on already. If you have a real TT bike, stay in your TT position through the flat finishes.

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