If you can’t produce more power, but still want to go faster, you can look towards aerodynamics to find performance gains. Aerodynamics is one of the hottest areas of development in the professional peloton at the moment, and in this GCN video, you can see the commitment Team Sky puts into aero testing during the early part of the season.
Team Sky is well-known (and occasionally mocked) for its ‘marginal gains’ approach to looking at every conceivable aspect of cycle racing that could positively influence the performance of a rider. The current buzz is around aerodynamics, and there are some decent gains to be made with, whether it's from using aero shaped equipment to adopting a more compact riding position.
But important to the whole process of seeking out a marginal gain, at least for Team Sky, is to validate any changes with data. Lots of data. The team took to the Palma velodrome in Majorca in early January, during the first team training camp, and put some long-standing racers like Geraint Thomas, and new signings like Michal Kwiatkowski, through an aero test.
They conducted tests to find the perfect position for each rider, on a road bike and time trial bike.
“When I was riding the track, my position was great, it hasn’t changed too much I wouldn’t have thought,” says Geraint Thomas. “It’s more just confirming and knowing I’ve got the best position for myself really. You never know.”
The team use the velodrome because it’s a controlled environment, and removes the variables that occur when riding outdoors. They use speed and power, and some special software, to measure how much drag is produced for any given riding position.
By working through a series of different riding positions, they can assess the power demands and the speed output, and achieve an optimum setup. Once that has been done, they use Retul to capture the ride position data.
This sort of testing is an expensive process, but a necessity for a professional cycling team these days. It’s outside the realms of affordability for nearly all amateur cyclists, but it might not be for much longer. Boardman Bikes has revealed it is building its own performance centre with a wind tunnel and which, it claims, will be open to Boardman customers.
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David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.
Yep, and the EOT will have gone too.
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