By printing a 3D mannequin of leading international cyclist Tom Dumoulin and testing a series of skinsuits on his replica inside a wind tunnel until they found the perfect fit, researchers at TU Delft believe they can help Team Giant-Alpecin win gold at the UCI Road World Championships in Doha. Jim Drury reports.
Doha hosts cycling's road world championships this week - and Team Giant-Alpecin is taking no chances. Researchers at the Delft University of Technology have worked with them to create the perfect racing skinsuit. SOUNDBITE (English) ANDREA SCIACCHITANO, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR IN AEROSPACE AT UNIVERSITY OF DELFT, SAYING: "In order to go faster aerodynamics is very important, it's up to 90 percent of the total resistance that the guy has to overcome - and the roughness of the fabric is very important in order to reduce drag." The suit was first designed for time trial star Tom Dumoulin. Suits made with various fabrics were tested in a wind tunnel....but the process is lengthy and Dumoulin's time is precious. So they made an exact 3D model of the cyclist, sat on his bike in fixed riding posture. SOUNDBITE (English) DR JOUKE VERLINDEN (PRON: YOW-KA VER-LINNEN), ASSISTANT PROFESSOR COMPUTER AIDED DESIGN ENGINEERING AT UNIVERSITY OF DELFT, SAYING: "We used a system based on photogrammetry, so taking a lot of pictures with a high-resolution camera, an SLR camera, and we had a rig with 150 of these cameras which took one picture completely at the same time, and from that we could reconstruct a 3D model." Two inexpensive 3D printers turned upside down made Dumoulin's replica in eight parts. It was then sat on a Giant Alpecin bike in the tunnel. SOUNDBITE (English) ANDREA SCIACCHITANO, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR IN AEROSPACE AT UNIVERSITY OF DELFT, SAYING: "Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV), is a particular technique that we have developed at TU Delft, in which we introduce small particles in the flow, we illuminate them by means of a laser and we take images of these particles - and by measuring the displacement of these particles at two time instance we can determine the velocity field and therefore the pressure and finally the aerodynamic drag." Dumoulin and his colleagues all received personal fittings - and the team is confident of success in Doha. SOUNDBITE (English) TEUN VAN ERP, SPORTS SCIENTIST AT TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN, SAYING: "Tom will participate in the time trial and we hope that with ten fifteen seconds extra gain we have with the suit he will win the gold medal there." SOUNDBITE (English) TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN CYCLIST, TOM DUMOULIN, SAYING: "In cycling, and especially in time trialling, it's about seconds, and even if we get only a little difference with a faster suit it will make a big difference maybe in the result." The research team says its technique could also help speedskaters and swimmers drag their way to glory.