BAE Systems and UK Sport have revealed technology that could be pivotal to the success of the British Cycling team at Rio 2016.
The advanced cycling ergometer was developed by engineers at BAE Systems in conjunction with the team that won 9 medals during the summer games in 2012.
The ergometer measures the work-rate and energy expended by cyclists and is claimed to replicate the inertial forces of a velodrome more accurately than any other testing tool. Data collected includes gas and blood analysis, enabling testing at high speeds to analyse the athlete’s technique.
“We can help …athletes tune the amount of power that they generate and actually put through the device,” said Nigel Whitehead, BAE’s group managing director, programmes & support. “By having that sort of input during the training, development and working out how best to sit – how posture works to their best advantage – we can tune these things and give a marginal advantage.”
BAE Systems has been working in partnership with UK Sport for eight years and the ergometer was developed following a request from British Cycling for an adaptable system that could be customised for different riders and events. The system is also portable, so it can be used in a laboratory to ensure the data captured is more accurate.
“BAE Systems has created a portable and accurate system that we believe will be integral to the teams’ training regimes and will help us to achieve our medal winning target at the Rio Games,” said Paul Barratt, lead biomechanist – Great Britain Cycling Team, English Institute of Sport.
The ergometer houses a large variable fly wheel at its rear, with blades that can be adjusted to increase or decrease resistance on the pedals, accurately mimic different gear ratios and generate forces for the cyclist based on their individual load and the track on which they are riding, be it for sprints, endurance rides or road events.
“If you look at the 2012 Olympics alone we contributed an effort to the teams that won 19 medals – 10 golds, 7 silvers and 2 bronzes and in the Paralympic games 6 medals – 5 golds and a silver,” said Whitehead. “We don’t know – and will never know – what incremental difference we made but we like to think we were part of that team.”