Aerodynamic drag interactions between cyclists in a team pursuit
- 703 Downloads
Performance in cycling events is strongly dependent on aerodynamic drag due to the high proportion of resistance that it contributes. The drag of individual cyclists has been shown to vary with riding posture and the drag of cyclists travelling in close proximity will vary as a function of separation distance. However, the influence of riding posture and the interplay between cyclists in a team is a complex problem that is not well understood. This study aims to develop a better understanding of the aerodynamic drag interactions between cyclists riding in a team as a function of their riding position. A team of four athletes was tested in the Monash University Wind Tunnel using a bespoke force balance that can measure drag on all four athletes simultaneously. Compared to an individual rider, the four riders in a team experienced mean drag savings of 5, 45, 55 and 57 % in positions 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the team, respectively. The results of individual athlete tests were shown to be a good indicator of drag response when applied in a team environment. Strong aerodynamic interactions were observed between the riders in a pursuit team. However, these varied significantly and appear to be unique functions of individual athlete body shape. Given the small winning margins at the elite level, a detailed understanding of the interactions between riders will deliver a performance edge. However, it appears necessary to test the actual athletes in situ to fully optimise performance as general trends were not consistent.
KeywordsCycling Aerodynamics Drag Interactions Geometry Posture Drafting Pursuit Team
This work was carried out with the support and funding of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and Australian Sports Commission (ASC) under Australian Research Council Linkage Project 2011003347. The authors would also like to acknowledge the contributions of the technical staff of the Monash University Wind Tunnel and the athletes who volunteered their time for this research.
Conflict of interest
One of the authors of this paper is an employee of the AIS, a source of funding for this research. This does not represent a conflict of interest as it was a joint research project between the AIS and Monash University.
All testing reported in this article was conducted according to approval from the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee. Project Number CF13/1326–2013000679.
- 1.Kyle CR, Burke ER (1984) Improving the racing bicycle. Mech Eng J Am Soc Mech Eng 106:34–45Google Scholar
- 3.Kyle CR, Weaver MD (2004) Aerodynamics of human-powered vehicles. In: Proceedings of Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part A: Journal of Power and Energy 218(141), doi: 10.1243/095765004323049878
- 4.Pannel JR, Griffith EA, Coals JD (1915) Experiments on the interference between pairs of aeroplane wires of circular and lenticular cross section. Reports and Memoranda—Aeronautical Research Council (Great Britain), Report 208Google Scholar
- 5.Biermann D and Herrnstein WH Jr (1933) The Interference between struts in various combinations. Report National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, Report No. 468Google Scholar
- 8.Romberg GF, Chianese F Jr, Lajoie RG (1971) Aerodynamics of race cars in drafting and passing situations. Society of Automotive Engineers, Technical Paper 710213Google Scholar
- 10.Hammache M, Michaelian M, Browand F (2001) Aerodynamic forces on truck models, including two trucks in tandem. California PATH Research Report, University of California BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
- 12.Zdravkovich MM, Ashcroft MW, Chisholm SJ, Hicks N (1996) Effect of Cyclist’s Posture and Vicinity of Another Cyclist on Aerodynamic Drag. The Engineering of Sport 1Google Scholar
- 17.McCole SD, Claney K, Conte JC, Anderson R, Hagberg JM (1990) Energy expenditure during bicycling. J Appl Physiol 68:748–753Google Scholar
- 19.Gibertini, G, Campanardi, G, Grassi, D, Macchi C (2008) Aerodynamics of biker position. BBAA VI International Colloquim on: Bluff Bodies Aerodynamics & ApplicationsGoogle Scholar
- 23.Oggiano L, Leirdal S, Saetran L, Ettema G (2008) Aerodynamic optimization and energy saving of cycling postures for international elite cyclists. Eng Sport 7:597–604Google Scholar
- 25.Mercker E, Wiedemann J (1996) On the correction of interference effects in open jet wind tunnels. Society of Automotive Engineers, Technical Paper 960671Google Scholar
- 27.Martin JC, Douglas ML, Cobb JE, McFadden KL, Coggan AR (1998) Validation of a mathematical model for road cycling power. J Appl Biomech 14:276–291Google Scholar
- 28.Kyle, CR (1986) Mechanical factors affecting the speed of a cycle. In: Burke ER (ed) Science of Cycling Human Kinetics, California, USAGoogle Scholar
- 29.Wilson DG (2004) Bicycle Science. The MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar