With the London Olympics less than two hundred days away, here at Oxford Royale Academy we’re getting more and more excited about Britain’s chance for gold medals. In this article we look at the science behind cycling, and explore how technological advances are making our athletes faster.
Box Hill, in Surrey, has a total elevation of 171 metres, with an average gradient of 5.1 per cent. Competitors will have to do this hill-climb nine times on the way to finishing the Olympic road cycling event. Analyists from GB Cycling have been camped out on the hill for many months, working out the perfect strategy, to ensure that Mark Cavendish will win the gold medal. Rod Ellingworth, the man with the master plan, will tell you with certainty that when Cavendish crests the hill fro the ninth and final time, if the race leaders are no more than three minutes ahead, he will probably win it.
On the nine laps of the Box Hill loop the key is positioning. Riders will try to get away and the trick for Team GB is not to let them get too far. There are 49 kilometers from the end of the ninth loop to the finish on The Mall. Ellingworth works on the assimption that it takes ten kilometres to haul back a minute’s worth of a breakaway’s lead. “So they’d need more than three minutes,” he said. “With four they’d stand a chance.”
Given that radios are banned and riders cannot communicate with Ellingworth and the team directors, Team GB will be relying on two information boards placed on the Box Hill loop. Ellingworth in the team car, watching the TV feed, listening to the official race radio and receiving texts from a third person studying the race on television will send information to his lieutenants. Nine times round equals eighteen information updates.
If all goes to plan, Cavendish will exit the ninth loop within three minutes of the leaders. His teammates will then help him chase them down and it will be for him to complete the job at the finish.
Such is the quest for gold medal perfection that there are more jobs to be done – such as completing the deal with the Formula One team from whom they are looking to take meteorological advice; finding a place on the route for a third person to stand with information updates and persuading the Olympic Games Organising Committee to erect a temporary phone mast on Box Hill so that Ellingworth can communicate with his information-board operators.
With plans like this, what could go wrong? For more details on Oxford Royale Academy’s Olympic themed adult summer programme, click here.