A good warmup can be an integral part of your race. Typically the harder the race will start, the more important the warm up. So while a warmup may not be so important for a long road race, it can be very important for races such as crits, time trials, track races, or cross races. The purpose of the warmup is to prepare the athlete physically as well as mentally. To get the mind in race mode, to warm up the muscles, and to prepare the hormonal mileu that helps get you going. This warm up should be done on a trainer or rollers, and should start about 35 minutes before you plan to head for the start line, not 30 minutes before your race. The warmup may be altered depending on environmental conditions ( ie: heat), or for individual athletes. The warmup can be based on heart rate, power, or simply 1-10 RPE. I will use the RPE scale here, because it is essentially universal and different riders and coaches may use differen terms to describe power and hear rate zones. Feel free to print this out and take it to your next race:
Coach Burke's Crit Warmup. All efforts done at a comfortable high legspeed. Roll into all efforts, don't jump into them.
1-10: Start VERY easy and slowly built to a 6 or 7 on the RPE scale.
10-12: easy easy pedaling
12-14: RPE 4-5 ( moderate effort, below race pace)
14-16: RPE 7 ( race pace)
16-17: easy easy pedaling
17-19: RPE 4-5 ( moderate effort, below race pace)
19-21: RPE 7 ( race pace)
21-22: Easy easy
22-24: RPE 4-5 ( moderate effort, below race pace)
24-25: RPE 7 ( race pace)
25-26: RPE 8 ( HARD race Pace)
26-30: Easy pedaling, may extend longer