138 FANTASTIC DOWNHILL FROM CHRIS FROOME: BUT WAS IT WORTH IT?

With the buttocks on the rod and chest on the steering bar Chris Froome flew down of the mountain last week. But did it really help?

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With the buttocks on the rod and chest flat on the bar Chris Froome flew down  off the Peyresourde. His legs turned rapidly around, his speed increased to ninety kilometers per hour. On arrival at Bagnères-de-Luchon, the Briton had his lead expanded to thirteen seconds. Enough to take over the yellow jersey. At the end of the eighth Tour stage almost everyone had an opinion about the good descent by Froome. Proponents pointed at the time savings. Surprise your opponents in this way is after all a major asset. But there was also criticism. Is this unusual, wobbly descent posture dangerous? What if young cyclist will copy this?

Another question, perhaps the most logical, was less frequently asked: will this work? It does sound very logical; that you will be more aerodynamic if you fold yourself into a ball. A group of researchers from the University of Eindhoven, the University of Leuven and the University of Liège, however, had their doubts and decided to investigate the “Froome posture”.

FROOME POSITION VERSUS SAFE POSTURE

Professor Bert Blocken of the University of Eindhoven  explains how that process came about. They were looking for a rider with the stature of Froome and analyzed with special software the air resistance in various riding positions: upright with hands on the steering rod, the ‘usual’ descent position and Froome’s pose. And of course the time trial position because this is considered the most streamlined position.

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The results are surprising. Froome’s posture is in fact not faster than the descent position where a rider safely stays in the saddle. In fact, Froome’s was even slightly less. In the “safe descent position” the resistance is 1 percent higher than in the time trial position. In Froome’s unstable position the difference is 1.6 percent.