The Olympics - Where Controversy Meets Technology

News & Results

07/31/2012| 0 comments
by Neil Browne
What's a professional bike race without a little bit of controversy? Photo copyright Tim de Waele.
What's a professional bike race without a little bit of controversy? Photo copyright Tim de Waele.

The Olympics - Where Controversy Meets Technology

What's a professional bike race without a little bit of controversy?

a field sprint spoiler as well. A break went up the road, which contained Marianne Vos (Netherlands), Elizabeth Armitstead (England), Shelly Olds (USA) and Olga Zabelinskaya (Russian Federation). Olds flatted out of the break with just 30 kilometers remaining. A heartbreaking way to lose out on a chance for a medal.

Vos was the favorite for the sprint and she didn't disappoint, easily taking the win on The Mall. Armitstead was second and Zabelinskaya third. No controversy here. Vos was a well-deserved winner.

After watching both road races the Olympic course proved to be well-designed. Box Hill, while it didn't eliminate riders completely, did provide a launching pad for attacks. And the zig zag road provided a spectacular backdrop for the race.

The one complaint I saw from riders was that the crowds were so thick that they spilled out onto the road in some sections. Also someone's dog got loose and ran across the road and then back, miraculously not hitting any racers. Perhaps it was the Newfoundland dog from the Tour de France that took out Philippe Gilbert and was looking for his second chance to finish the job.

As a self-admitted tech geek the Olympics is a place where nations roll out their top secret equipment. The British road race squad AKA Team Sky Version 2.0 ride Pinarello bikes. However, they were on a plain black carbon fiber frame. The god-awful looking bikes were created by the UK Sports Institute for one thing and one thing only - to be ridden fast. Every tube and piece of equipment that was attached to the frame was sculptured for aerodynamics. This included a bulbous looking stem. Much like the mysterious "skunkworks project" which was formed during World War II as a think tank to create top secret projects, the bike's research and development came from the group called "The Secret Squirrel Club." Who says engineers don't have a sense of humor?

Joe Lindsey of the Boulder Report has the low-down on the bikes and states that if you want to impress your friends at the next group ride be prepared to write a cheque for $23,000 to own one of these.

The technology doesn't end there. The Giro Air Attack helmets were on several riders' heads, including Vos'. These helmets resemble something a skateboarder would wear. It looks round with a squared off rear section with minimal ventilation. The result, according to Giro, is a very fast helmet. Giro will make these lids available later this year. I expect to see them on the heads of my master category competitors as we do almost anything to stay fast to prevent Father Time from catching us.

Clothing was also a major aspect of the technology that was rolled out in London. Team Sky ... er ... I mean the British national team wore kits that were basically skinsuits with strategically placed seams that created a better air flow over the athletes. Very tricky stuff.

While there was some technological advances on display, there was one piece of modern technology missing - race

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