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Pedalling On Your Top Tube – Is It Faster To Descend Like Chris Froome? GCN Does Science


– One of the biggest stories
of this year’s Tour de France, so far, isn’t the racing,
it’s not the crashes, or even the tech. It’s Chris Froome, descending like a lunatic on a clown bike. – Don’t believe us? Well, this is him riding
down the Col d’Izoard, sitting on his top tube,
in a super aero tuck, But whilst pedalling. It’s pretty much the most
dangerous thing you can do on a bike, and it happens to be about 50 miles an hour. – That’s pretty quick. Well, he’s not the first rider to do it, because Matej Mohorič of Lampre-Merida did it to very good effect in the Under-23 World Road Championships, which he won in 2013. But since then not too
many riders have bothered. – No, so why did Froome do it? I mean, presumably it’s
faster, but how much faster? Well, Dan went off to pedal like a lunatic on a clown bike to find out. – [Dan] We’re going to do the
experiment on a down hill. So we’re going to measure
how long it takes me to get from A to B, whilst
pedalling on the top tube, and then whilst not
pedalling on the top tube, and then whilst pedalling in
the saddle in an aero position. All the runs are going to start
and finish in the same place and for every run, I’m going to get to the start
position at 50 Ks per hour. So onto the first run. And for this one, I chose my
normal favourite position. I’m on the saddle, but in an aero tuck. (hard rock music) Now onto run number two.
This is the interesting one. Me pedalling as hard as I can
while sat on the top tube. (hard rock music) And now for the final run, sat on the top tube, but not pedalling. How much difference does it actually make to get some power through the pedals? (hard rock music) Okay, well I have now done
five runs in each position, rotating the positions throughout so that fatigue didn’t play a factor. So now it’s time to go back to the office and check out the results. – So, the results. – Now apparently the reason
we didn’t get the results out on the road from Dan, was because he had a prior
appointment in a pub. – Standard. Anyway, here they are. So the results for a standard
aero tuck whilst pedalling The average descending time
was one minute and 10 seconds. In the top tube, but
non-pedaling position, the average time was one
minute and 16 seconds, and then the full Froome was
one minute and 11 seconds, so actually a second slower
than the standard aero tuck. – So in this case, the Froome
position was actually slower. But Dan says, the stats don’t
actually tell the full story, because he was only able to pedal, whilst on the top tube, at 300 watts, but only in short bursts. – That’s actually not
bad for Dan these days. 300 watts for the short bursts. – But also, Dan couldn’t get particularly comfortable in that position. So begs the question, is it trainable? – Yeah, well we do hear that
Froome may have actually been doing secret
training in this position. – That’s what we’ve heard from Dave B. – Yeah, and secondly, the other
really important thing here, is the grading of the descent. Now the steeper the descent, the more aero you would need to be, and in this case Daniel’s descent was actually a fairly measly 4%. But do remember though,
the steeper the descent and the more aero you are, the greater the likelihood
that you will die. And we mean, literally, die. – It’s a bit touchy. But that is relevant, Si,
because, let’s face it, that position is quite dangerous, yet it appears that Team Sky have planned, and the move was premeditated. Now we also hear that
Team Sky have designed a custom fork for Froome. So move the fork a little bit
further in front of the bike to make handling a little bit
twitchier, but it will help evenly distribute Froome’s
weight across the bike. – Yeah interesting, and
don’t forget as well, that Froome’s Pinarello
also has a higher top tube than Dan’s trek. He’s got a horizontal top tube as opposed to the sloping
one on Dan’s Trek Madone. So, Dan would actually have
therefore been in a more extreme, and even more
clown-like position than Froome. – It was quite something
to behold, wasn’t it? But also, the descent in D’Izoard isn’t the most technical of descents. It’s pretty straight, so it’d
suit this sort of escapade. And also Chris Froome quite clearly knew the road very very well, and also, a point that’s very important
was no oncoming traffic either – No, and on that point,
if you haven’t gathered our subliminal message
throughout this entire video, please do not try this
kind of thing at home. – And Chris Froome did actually
say that himself on Twitter, shortly afterwards. – He did indeed. Anyway, staying with the Tour de France, if you want more content
of this sort on GCN right now, then if you click just up there you get through to our
Tour de France playlist. Or for a look at Froome’s bike, that may or may not have
a custom fork on it, then click just down there. – And to subscribe to GCN as ever click on the globe which will
be somewhere in this frame. And don’t forget to like and share as well.
– Yay!

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