New research may lead to a different strategy of cycling teams in escape attempts

phys.org | 7/11/2018 | Staff
catcrazy24 (Posted by) Level 4
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In the middle of a peloton, racing cyclists experience only five to ten percent of the air resistance they face when cycling alone. A new study, published in the Journal of Wind Engineering & Industrial Aerodynamics, based on wind tunnel research on a peloton of 121 cyclists may explain why so few 'breakaways' in professional cycling races, like this year's Tour de France, are successful.

"It turns out that current calculation models used by some race teams to determine the best time to escape are based on the wrong assumptions," explains lead author Professor Bert Blocken at the Eindhoven University of Technology & KU Leuven. "Perhaps these new results will lead to more successful escapes and partly explain why so few escapes succeed, and why the peloton often hauls in the riders that do escape," Dr. Blocken added.

Middle - Cycling - Peloton - Wind - Experience

It is well known that in the middle of a cycling peloton you ride 'out of the wind' and therefore experience less air resistance. How much less has never been thoroughly investigated. From previous research with smaller groups of riders, estimates have been made of 50 to 70 percent of the air resistance is experienced when compared to individual riders. Professional cyclists however, suggest that in a peloton you 'sometimes hardly have to pedal', which assumes that air resistance must be much lower.

The research team, led by Dr. Blocken systematically chart, for the first time, the air resistance for each rider in a cycling peloton of 121 riders. The results showed that in the middle and at the back of the peloton the drag is about five to seven percent of what is experienced by a single rider. "Put it another way: it is as if a rider is cycling at 12 to 15 km/h in a peloton that is speeding along at 54...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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