Why track cycling records are falling at the Olympics

IZU – Everyone expected the record to fall when the track cycling program began at the Tokyo Olympics, but everyone expected the German women’s chasing team to break the mark of two British gold medalists. I didn’t. Or the Chinese lower the team sprint record. Alternatively, Denmark broke the Olympic record with a men’s team pursuit.

All on the first day of the competition.

“We knew we were going to break the world record this week, and that was the first time,” explained Gary Sutton, endurance coach of the US Women’s Tracking Team, World Champion. “The truck is fast.”

Certainly, just as the road surface of the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo is becoming faster, so is the Siberian pine wood of Izu Velodrome. But this is not a new track specially made for the Olympics. It’s a 10-year-old keirin racetrack on a lost forested hill near the mountains. Fuji. Nor is it in the highlands where thin air has set numerous world records over the years, like the historically fast keirin racetrack in Aguascalientes, Mexico.


So why are records falling in Japan in every race? Well, it’s a combination of factors-the perfect storm if you do-it allowed riders to look at them at some fast time, regardless of discipline.

Physiological aspects

Simply put, training methods evolve and continue to improve with each Olympic cycle, making the athlete even better. Yes, this includes a more effective and productive training plan, but it also means a finely tuned recovery period and proper nutrition to promote effort, all specific to each athlete. Customized to suit your body composition.

And all of that is constantly monitored by a range of technologies. Like many other sports, they are aware of the specific output of watts in training, sleep quality, and a complete breakdown of the food they consume.

Environmental impact

The racetrack is about 1,000 feet above sea level, so riders do not benefit from the thin air. But they are backed by warm weather and air density. It may seem counterintuitive, but those studying physics and chemistry know that moist air, as seen in summer in Japan, is less dense than dry air. increase.


“The course is good,” said Elia Viviani of Italy. “The temperature is really good, but most of the time, the density of air makes a huge difference, so I think you’ll see a very fast time in Team Pursuit.”

Technical benefits

American women have a drivetrain on the left side instead of the right side. This is a study by bike maker Felt that shows that aerodynamics are improved because the rider only turns to the left. The bike on which the British ride is an input from sports car maker Lotus, which has a radically different shape that seems to improve airflow.

Many teams ride their own carbon fiber bikes, which are lighter and stiffer than the previous Olympics. Others have experimented with 3D printed components, innovative lubricants, and extensive wind tunnel testing.

“The basic rules of aerodynamics haven’t changed. We can’t change the laws of physics, but what we’ve learned over nearly 30 years is to take a more comprehensive approach to every project,” he said. Lotus. “When it comes to track cycling, it’s a perfect harmony between humans and machines.”


It also costs money. With millions of R & D devoted to the national team and its equipment partners, cyclists can only expect the success of the Olympics to lead to increased retail sales. The rules stipulate that all bicycles used in the competition must be open to the public, but the price tag may require a second mortgage at home.

Hope x Lotus HB.T ​​with an Englishman will bring you back to about $ 20,000. The US team’s Felt TAFRD is priced at $ 25,999. The most expensive bike, the Malaysian Worx WX-R Vorteq, sells for $ 39,000.

“This is the best time of the Olympic cycle, as all the shiny bits come out,” said British sprinter Jason Kenny. “We have the best bikes, the best wheels, the best tires, the best kits. This is it. It’s a really fun time to join.”


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Why track cycling records are falling at the Olympics

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