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The 2016 Tour de France is on its way and we felt the need to explore what made last year’s Tour, the most aero Tour in history! If you were closely following the Tour last year, you probably noticed a rather unorthodox display of aero techniques and strategies. This was mostly due to the sharp increase in data and analytics throughout the industry that is aimed to help cyclists be more aero. It is no secret that if two riders have the same power output, the one with less drag will be faster.

You are probably wondering what are some of the ways teams have attempted to optimize their riders’ aerodynamics in the last few years? We will look at some of these factors and highlight how a small firm from Montreal, Alphamantis Technologies has led this data revolution by developing next-generation aero testing products.

Have you noticed an increase in the amount of amateur and pro riders that are focusing more and more on their aero positioning in any type of race or event? We have noticed too, and Le Tour was no exception; it is the best platform for teams and companies to showcase their aero strategies including all products that have been developed in the past years. You see them everywhere, from NoPinz speedpocket on the Lotto Jumbo suits, to long sleeve aero suits despite +35C degrees, to space-looking helmets, to holding seemingly uncomfortable positions for long periods of time. No matter where you look, the pursuit of the yellow jersey has shifted from raw power to aerodynamics.

 

Young Canadian superstar Hugo Houle at the 2016 Tour de Beauce. Cycling Canada (http://www.cyclingcanada.ca/)

Young Canadian superstar Hugo Houle at the 2016 Tour de Beauce. Cycling Canada (http://www.cyclingcanada.ca/)

 

GoPro became the official on-board camera of the Tour de France last year. Pictured is an aero test performed by Alphamantis on Montreal’s Formula 1 track. Video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euB2PfHE43M

GoPro became the official on-board camera of the Tour de France last year. Pictured is an aero test performed by Alphamantis on Montreal’s Formula 1 track. Video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euB2PfHE43M

 

lotto jumbo tour de france

The Nopinz Speedpocket was tested by our aerotest partner AeroCoach (http://www.aero-coach.co.uk/) and was worn by LottoJumbo, team that has been aero tested by our partner AeroProEU (http://aeropro.nl/)

 

The biggest misconception about being aero is that it is about who has the best bike or who is using the newest helmet; but being aero is much more! Aerodynamics is a tricky subject and it is a very personal matter, so what works for someone does not necessarily work for you. Aerodynamics is playing the protagonist role in the way teams design their training and race strategies, in the way manufacturers design and build new bikes and equipment, and in the way riders think, train, and race. The ultimate goal in the world of aerodynamics is to reduce the athlete’s overall coefficient of drag.

In modern competitive cycling, optimal aerodynamics will provide an edge over other racers, as the same power will help you achieve a greater speed. The biggest example of this at last year’s Tour was Rohan Dennis of the BMC Team. You could see him taking his eyes off the road ahead and looking straight down while pedaling with tremendous force on the first stage of the Tour.  What was the result? He got the fastest individual time trial in the Tour de France history.  We definitely do not encourage many of the techniques used by the pros to obtain the lowest coefficient of drag possible, as they can be dangerous and sometimes hard to sustain for long periods of time.

 

 William Elliot at the 2016 Tour de Beauce. Cycling Canada (http://www.cyclingcanada.ca/)

William Elliot at the 2016 Tour de Beauce. Cycling Canada (http://www.cyclingcanada.ca/)

 

Another example of riders looking to achieve the most aerodynamic position was seen during the descents on the mountain stages at the Tour.  One peculiar case comes to mind, French rider Warren Barguil from Team Giant-Alpecin. As he descended the Col du Tourmalet sitting on the frame of his bike with horizontally aligned feet on the pedals achieving great speed, a group of cows decided to cross the road at the same time. Since maneuverability is impaired while riding in this position there could have been a not-so-happy-ending to that very rapid descent.

Cycling has become all about aero (OK, we know that power is a huge factor, but it is hard to change it over time), and Alphamantis holds the key to maximizing any athlete’s performance. This small tech start-up has put together years of research, development, data and analytics, to create an aero testing software that outputs a rider’s drag coefficient in real time while riding. With this disruptive technology, some teams have redesigned their entire racing strategies, by understanding what positions work best for each rider and making changes in real time. This way teams and athletes have benefited from this revolutionary technology to craft the most effective strategies. Alphamantis helped several teams at the 2015 Tour and now again for this year’s Tour.

 

Rafal Majka of the Tinkoff-Saxo team looking for an aero advantage on a descent on Stage 11

Rafal Majka of the Tinkoff-Saxo team looking for an aero advantage on a descent on Stage 11

 

Competitive cycling is changing and Alphamantis is spearheading this evolution with their futuristic aerodynamic testing tool (the Track Aero System: http://alphamantis.com/tas/). Alphamantis has the best team of scientists, aerodynamicists, partners, and cycling fanatics working to make sure their data helps athletes around the world to maximize their performance. Aerodynamic optimization is no longer just for the pros, Alphamantis provides an affordable service to cyclists of any level who want to increase their performance. Up to 90% of the drag a cyclist faces comes from the cyclist itself, so it makes sense to optimize your bike positioning and become more aero.

Now that you know what to look at, and how Alphamantis has worked with the best teams in the world to help identify the most optimal position for each rider, you are ready to see what will be the most aero Tour in recorded history: Tour de France 2016.

 

Ready to test with Alphamantis? Book your test today here: http://alphamantis.com