December 11, 2023

Ironman Cycle Measurements: Knowing for the Fastest Bike Time - and for Victory?

Ironman Cycle Measurements: Knowing for the Fastest Bike Time – and for Victory?

The initial decision in the fight for the title at the Ironman World Championships in St. George will be made at the cycling track. What is the best preparation for a Utah session?

Editor-in-chief Nils Fleischardt at the bike track at the Ironman World Championships in Utah.

Only those who have assembled the puzzle from as many completely different parts as possible will be able to celebrate as the Ironman World Champion at St. George’s on Saturday night. Some athletes like Lionel Sanders (Canada) go through a gut feeling, while others like four-time winner Daniela Reeve (Switzerland) rely on scientific findings.

One person who collects and evaluates these in detail is Jean-Paul Ballard, CEO of wheel manufacturer Swiss Side. We were also allowed to participate in his data collection: Editor-in-chief Nils Fleischerdt installed a CdA meter while checking his bike cycle. Simply put: an aerodynamic device which determines wind resistance, but also reveals important information about wind strength and wind direction from the driver’s point of view.

CdA meter from the Swiss side

Even before leaving for Utah, Ballard and his team in Switzerland invested a lot of time simulating the Ironman World Championship racetrack in St. George and determining the most important performance factors such as weight or aerodynamic resistance to the athletes’ equipment recommendations. Wind, measured in tests on a racetrack, also plays an important role in the aerodynamic preparation and racing strategy of the athletes.

The main findings of the driving tests conducted by Jean-Paul Niels and other athletes are:

  • St. George’s is approximately 3,000 feet above sea level, so lower air density will result in lower aerodynamic drag and therefore higher speeds than those on the Kona Coast, where the Ocean Coast Iron Man track is all the way down. However, the road in St. George is very hilly with a total height of 2,265 meters (in Kona it is only 1,386 meters). Jean-Paul Ballard and his team calculated that Bike times in St. George’s are about 10 minutes slower It will be from Kona.
  • subordinate air resistance It’s still a dominant element in St. George as well. However, the significance is understated compared to the Kona: a 5 percent reduction in drag results in a reduced ride time of about 3:29 minutes, which is 40 seconds less than the Kona due to the additional climb in St. George. Accordingly, the aerodynamic effect in St. George corresponds to about 85 percent of the effect in Kona.
  • The importance of weight Because of the additional elevations in St. George. This mainly depends on the driver. For light athletes, one pound of extra weight results in a time loss of about 66 seconds in St. George’s, compared to just 31 seconds in the Kona. Accordingly, the weight effect in Utah is twice as large as that of Hawaii.
  • In short, you compare the effects: 1.6 percent of the air resistance corresponds to an extra kilogram of weight.
  • The winds were variable during the testing days and also quite strong on some days. The wind is similar and even stronger than in Kona – with more gusts.
  • when The best wheel setup for professional athletes The Swiss side sees the front wheel “HADRON2 Ultimate 800” and “DISC” on the rear wheel if wind permits. Individual athletes may consider the front wheel 625 if the wind is too strong.
  • to me Experts recommend setting 800/800 for age groupsAs long as they are strong and experienced drivers. If the wind is very strong, the 625/800 setting should be considered. The 625/800 setup reduces wind sensitivity by 25 percent and only has a small aerodynamic penalty of one watt at 45 kph (but it can be more wind dependent).
  • The road is relatively bumpy, as well Low tire pressure is beneficial. Depending on the rider’s weight and based on the 25mm tires, this should be less than a bar less than on slick roads. This will also have a beneficial effect on the resistance of the plate. In St. George, there is still a relatively large amount of residue on the road during race week, which is why the ultra-light tires should not be without puncture protection layer to be driven.
  • Landing speeds play an important role in the professional field, Higher gears are important to increase the top speed when descending. Jean-Paul Ballard: “Expect some attacks on the offspring!”
  • The Wind direction with highest probability As for the flight performance, which results in the greatest savings of time due to the cruising effect, is that of the North. The south wind offers the smallest potential.
  • The running path is very hilly and challenging as well. Besides the heat in the afternoon, athletes on the running track can take advantage of At a more careful pace when cycling Chose. In other words, those who spend too much on the bike path can pay for it on the racetrack.
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More information about the Swiss side


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Ironman World Championships in St. George

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