Tips & Recipes

Pro workouts: torque efforts with Noemi Rüegg

Build sprint strength on the bike

February 22, 2024

Noemi Rüegg charged into the final hundred meters of the Trofeo Felanitx-Colònia de Sant Jordi at the head of the pack and held her speed to the line.

Whirling a huge gear, EF Education-Cannondale’s Swiss sprinter left the peloton in her wake and won her first pro race. It was our new women’s team’s first-ever day of competition.

Noemi’s victory was the result of the hard work she did at home this winter and at training camps with her teammates in Girona and Mallorca. One of Noemi’s main focuses this year is to build her strength.

On a bike, power is the product of the torque and the velocity with which a rider can turn over the cranks. Torque is a measure of rotational force and is measured in Newton-Meters (Nm). Velocity is the speed at which the cranks are rotating and is measured in rotations per minute (rpm).

To win a bunch sprint, Noemi needs strength to push a big gear and generate torque and leg speed to keep it turning faster and faster, increasing velocity.

For strength, Noemi does a lot of gym work in the winter, focusing on squats and box jumps to improve her explosiveness. During the season, she turns her focus to building strength on the bike.

Over-geared torque efforts are a key session for her. Noemi will find a hill and do three to five five-minute efforts at 50 rpm to 60 rpm at the power she can produce at her Vo2 max.

“Basically, you just go to the climb and then you have the target of Newton-meters that you want to achieve, so you just drop your chain into a really big gear with a low cadence of around 50 to 60 and push up this hill for around five minutes,” she says.

Team EF Coaching

Benefit from the knowledge and experience our team has earned in the WorldTour. Whatever your ambitions, Team EF Coaching is ready to teach you Tour de France-proven training, nutrition, and technique to make you a better cyclist.

Team EF Coaching

The workout

Warm up

30 minutes at an easy pace

Over-geared effort #1

5 minutes at 50-60 rpm, VO2 max pace


10 minutes at an easy pace

Over-geared effort #2

5 minutes at 50-60 rpm, VO2 max pace


10 minutes at an easy pace

Over-geared effort #3

5 minutes at 50-60 rpm, VO2 max pace

Cool down

30 minutes at an easy pace


At the end of each five-minute effort, shift into a lighter gear and do a one-minute max effort to better your ability to transfer torque into power

*VO2 max pace is 106% - 120% of FTP

* FTP= Functional Threshold Power, the maximum power output you could maintain for one hour, which is approximately equivalent to your best 20-minute effort, minus 5%.

Training benefit

Torque efforts build functional strength. Applying force around the full rotation of your pedal stroke engages all of the muscles that you use on a bike and makes them stronger, so you can produce more power at all intensities. When it comes time to sprint, you’ll be better able to transfer the strength you build on the bike into speed.

Being able to generate more force will also allow you to sprint out of corners, hold speed over hills, and match accelerations in the pack more effectively so you get to that sprint with more left in your legs.

“It is very difficult to maintain a constant pedal speed in a race,” says EF ProCycling Head of Performance Peter Schep. “To do that, you would need an automatic transmission that was constantly shifting to keep your cadence at, say, 100. That is, of course, not the reality. In a race, your cadence is constantly changing. In split seconds, you need to be able to produce more force in order to keep your speed. Otherwise, you would be more focused on shifting than with actually riding your bike. If you look at your cadence in a road race, you will see constant fluctuations. What you can do in a bunch sprint is as dependent on your absolute ten-second max power, measured when you are fresh, and how much that potential deteriorates during the race.”

Pro tips

Noemi recommends focusing on a target number of Newton-Meters during torque efforts. Using a power meter that can display Nm will help you keep your effort consistent across the undulations on your chosen climb and help you measure your progress.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a powermeter though! Just go to your nearest climb and ride up it in a big gear while keeping your cadence between 50 rpm and 60 rpm.

EF ProCycling Head of Performance Peter Schep recommends increasing the intensity at which you do these efforts progressively.

“Begin with strength training sessions at 60 rpms at 80 to 85% of your FTP for 15 minutes,” he says. “If those go well, move on to threshold sessions and then go above threshold for these five-minute efforts. Professional cyclists are used to doing strength efforts. They have built the stability they need throughout their whole core and their ankles, knees, and lower back are completely stable. They are used to higher forces, which means that they can quickly move on to these more intense efforts, but recreational riders need to proceed cautiously to limit the risk of injury.”

Schep also recommends choosing your climb for these efforts wisely.

“Try to find a climb with a constant gradient for at least a few kilometers so you can maintain your rhythm. If your speed is constantly changing because the gradient is constantly changing, it will be difficult to maintain form. Ideally you want to complete these efforts at a constant speed and with the same gear.”

Noemi works carefully to build her strength and her speed. Nevertheless, cycling remains an art as much as a science. That is especially true of sprinting.

Noemi recons every finale of every race that might end in a sprint and comes up with a plan for how she wants to approach it.

“You have to be really focused and know exactly what is coming in the finish,” she says. “I study VeloViewer to know where the corners or roundabouts are and then discuss with the team which side is the best side to go on, considering the wind.”

Once Noemi flies under the red kite marking a kilometer to go, she races on instinct.

“You tighten your shoes quickly, you grab your handlebars on the drops, and then you just go with the flow,” she says. “I just try to hold a very good position and make use of the other teams, so I don’t have to go into the wind too early. You trust your feeling for when it is the right moment to go, and then you go. It rarely goes perfectly, but that is also what makes it really special. You have to be improvising the whole time and going with the flow.”

Thanks to the strength training she does on her bike, Noemi can go with the flow all the way to victory.

Share this story

Related Stories