If you want to get some decent snaps any major sporting event faster and livelier than the World Handwriting Championships, you need to prepare in advance. Follow these simple guidelines from Alex P (alexp.com) and you'll have no trouble getting a couple of memorable shots.
1. Scout a location
The best spot depends on the story you're trying to tell. The loneliness of the long distance cyclist or a peloton bunfight? Either way, work out where the bikes will in relation to the camera and background – ideally between the two.
2. Prepare to burst
Burst mode, that is. Rapid-fire shots (10-15fps) give you more chance of getting the right shot, but also slow down your auto-focus. Choosing .jpegs as your file format will enable quicker buffering and download speeds.
3. Turn to 'S'
...or 'T', on some cameras - the Shutter Priority setting that allows you to pick the speed of your shot. Fast shutter speeds freeze motion and help sharpness, so go for a speed no slower than 1/125 and try something in the 1/400 - 1/800 range. Move the camera with your subject (a technique called 'panning') to provide an added element of speed.
4. turn around
Don't just snap the cyclists. Crowd reactions with the relevant action in frame give great results, as do 'behind the scenes' images of rider prep and post-race reactions. In any area of photography, you get the best shots by capturing images that others don't think of, or can't get access to.
Find more easy advice on how to create amazing photographs in Stuff's Guide to Photography