Australian track cyclists face wind tunnel test
Some of Australia’s top cyclists are pinning their hopes of Olympic glory on smoke and a high-tech wind tunnel, usually reserved for testing planes and fast cars.
The highly-rated men’s pursuit track cycling team have spent some time ahead of their London Games gold medal quest inside one of the largest wind tunnels in the southern hemisphere at Melbourne’s Monash University.
It is the first time all four riders have been able to be tested simultaneously for aerodynamics and interaction in the facility.
The giant wind turbines, which were reconfigured for the cyclists, produce a 65 kilometre per hour gale into the faces of the riders, while smoke is blown over the team’s riding formation to help them evaluate their positioning and speed.
The aim is to make the whole team faster, not just one individual, according to Dr David Martin, the Australian Institute of Sport’s (AIS) senior physiologist.
“I think testing like this can make big inroads to improvements that make a difference,” Martin said.
“It might only be a half a second, but because the competition’s so tight it’s really important.”
Cycling star Jack Bobridge, who is Australia’s only remaining team pursuit rider from the Beijing Olympics, said this type of testing had the potential to improve the squad’s time by more than one per cent.
“These days it is coming down to all the one percenters which includes aerodynamics,” Bobridge said.
“When you win you might be talking about a margin of 0.1 of a second over four kilometres, so testing the entire team allows us to explore some questions that are very difficult to answer using any other technique.
“To be able to fine tune our team aerodynamics like this is massive for our group.”
The first men’s team pursuit event at the London Olympics begins on August 2.© AAP 2013