Rio 2016: Track Cycling

Track cycling is a sport where speed is everything. As much as 90% of the resistance a rider has to overcome is aerodynamic drag. To minimize drag, riders wear form-fitting one-piece skinsuits and wear special, streamlined helmets. They have aerodynamic bikes (unique left-side-drive ones, if you’re the Team USA women) and ride with their arms close together and thrust in front of them to minimize the frontal area they expose. 

Even the tactics of racing rely heavily on aerodynamics. In events like team pursuit cyclists stay extremely close to the wheel of the rider ahead of them in order to remain in that rider’s slipstream and experience less drag. When switching off the position of lead rider, cyclists use the curvature of the track to help them move to the back of the paceline quickly to minimize the time spent outside of their teammate’s draft. (Image credits: GettyImages via the Guardian and the IOC, source)

Previously: Cycling’s aero equipment helps them beat the clock; the effect of cyclists being followed by a motorbike or car

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