Cycling Technique for Triathlon

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Cycling Technique for Triathlon


Important laws of physics governing cycling performances:

  • The motion of a triathlete on a bicycle is affected by the following forces: ground adhesion, air resistance, friction and pedalling force.
  • Ground adhesion ensures that you do not skid at a standstill instead of moving forwards and helps to prevent you falling in bends.
  • All the other forces tend to cancel each other out. The pedalling force is opposed by air resistance and friction.
  • Air resistance depends on the triathlete's aerodynamics and increases exponentially with your speed.
  • Friction depends on your equipment (quality, cleanliness, lubrication) and on your pedalling style. Indeed, only the effort applied perpendicularly to the pedal cranks generates forward motion. The rest is absorbed by the bicycle.
  • Pedalling force is limited by the triathlete's physical condition.
  • The triathlete's aerodynamics depends on morphological characteristics and, above all, on his or her position on the bicycle.

Importance of technique:

  • By improving your technique, you can gain time without any extra effort.
  • It generally takes much longer to improve your physical fitness than to improve your technique.
  • Good technique helps to avoid falls.

Basic cycling technique:


  • Pedalling must always be "circular" whether you are sitting on the saddle or standing on the pedals. In other words, the effort must always be perpendicular to the pedal cranks.
  • The pedalling speed depends on your temperament, your natural characteristics and the slope. Nevertheless, I would advise fast pedalling motion as this helps you save your strength for the running stage.
  • Adjust the gear ratio on your bicycle according to the pedalling speed that suits you, rather than the other way round.

Position on level ground:

  • Your back must be parallel to the road and fairly straight.
  • Your shoulders and elbows should be pulled in, owing to the triathlon handlebars.
  • Your head should be slightly raised in order to see where you are going.
  • Your knees will be pulled in, lightly brushing the bicycle frame when you are pedalling.

Position in climbs:

  • Streamlining is less important as your speed will be lower. You should therefore concentrate on being as comfortable as possible.
  • Pull your arms back slightly to make breathing easier.
  • If the slope is very steep, or when increasing your speed, stand on the pedals (but don't forget to pedal in a circular motion).

Downhill technique:

  • Streamlining is the priority owing to your high speed.
  • In bends, the bicycle must lean towards the inside of the turn.
  • Brakes must be applied before entering the bend in order to avoid skidding.
  • Sit as far back on the saddle as you can.
  • Your downhill cycling technique will improve mainly through practice.
  • Take care in order to avoid falls.


  • Breathe in and out as deeply as possible.


  • Don't forget that your pedalling motion should be as circular as possible.

Le site Mission Triathlon est la disposition de tous les triathlètes souhaitant optimiser leur préparation au triathlon. Vous y trouverez des conseils comme la technique de natation pour le triathlon, la technique de vélo pour le triathlon, technique de course à pied pour le triathlon, l'alimentation pour le triathlon ou la musculation pour le triathlon. Vous pouvez aussi utiliser gratuitement le carnet d'entraînement online ou demander un devis pour un programme d'entraînement de triathlon personnalisé.