Cyclist drag in team pursuit : influence of cyclist sequence, stature, and arm spacing

T.W.J. Defraeye, B.J.E. Blocken, E. Koninckx, P. Hespel, P. Verboven, B. Nicolai, J.E. Carmeliet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


In team pursuit, the drag of a group of cyclists riding in a pace line is dependent on several factors, such as anthropometric characteristics (stature) and position of each cyclist as well as the sequence in which they ride. To increase insight in drag reduction mechanisms, the aerodynamic drag of four cyclists riding in a pace line was investigated, using four different cyclists, and for four different sequences. In addition, each sequence was evaluated for two arm spacings. Instead of conventional field or wind-tunnel experiments, a validated numerical approach (computational fluid dynamics) was used to evaluate cyclist drag, where the bicycles were not included in the model. The cyclist drag was clearly dependent on his position in the pace line, where second and subsequent positions experienced a drag reduction up to 40%, compared to an individual cyclist. Individual differences in stature and position on the bicycle led to an intercyclist variation of this drag reduction at a specific position in the sequence, but also to a variation of the total drag of the group for different sequences. A larger drag area for the group was found when riding with wider arm spacing. Such numerical studies on cyclists in a pace line are useful for determining the optimal cyclist sequence for team pursuit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)011005-1/9
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering : Transactions of the ASME
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Cyclist drag in team pursuit : influence of cyclist sequence, stature, and arm spacing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this