Christian Vande Velde, a rider for the Colorado based Garmin Chipotle cycling team, provided some great advice for improving your speed on a bike in a recent NY Times article. He mainly focuses on improving power by adding intervals that require spinning in a bigger gear for segments of time. The main focus for such training is to improve wattage – a measure of power per pedal stroke.
His advice for improving climbing ability is interesting, he suggests that biking on flats into the wind is a good substitute (he trained in Chicago over the winter). The flats around Chicago, combinded with the wind, probably made this and ideal training area for this type of work. Personally, I would hate riding into the wind on a flat stretch of concrete, but whatever works I suppose. He is one of Garmin Chipotle’s team members for the Tour de France this year, so we get to see how his training pays off.