The remarkable posture assumed by British cyclist Chris Froome at the end of the eighth leg of the Tour de France is not more aerodynamic, says Bert Blocken, a researcher at Eindhoven University of Technology in Eindhoven.
Froome surprised a lot of people when he sat on the frame of his bike during the descent. Many thought that the posture would reduce aerodynamic drag, but Blocken has been able to prove, in collaboration with the University of Leuven, that that isn’t the case.
The Brit gained time in the descent, by cycling down at a breath-taking 90 kilometres an hour. But according to Blocken, professor of building physics at the Faculty of Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology, that speed was not thanks to his posture.
Blocken compared the posture with three other descent postures on a bike. Contrary to what was thought, the posture actually causes more aerodynamic drag, albeit only slightly. He cycled only 0.6 percent slower than he would have, had he assumed a normal cycling posture.
And yet Froome gained significant time in the descent. "It’s hard to say what the reason was", says Blocken. "He sprinted away just before the descent, so giving himself a lead. Those behind him, including Quintana, did not assume the most favourable descent posture.
The Tour de France continues through Sunday. Today was the seventeenth leg.
Translation: Lizzie Kean (LinkedIn)