Optimizing the breakaway position in cycle races using mathematical modelling
Author(s)Gaul, L. H.; Griffiths, I. M.; Thomson, Stuart
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In long-distance competitive cycling, efforts to mitigate the effects of air resistance can significantly reduce the energy expended by the cyclist. A common method to achieve such reductions is for the riders to cycle in one large group, known as the peloton. However, to win a race a cyclist must break away from the peloton, losing the advantage of drag reduction and riding solo to cross the finish line ahead of the other riders. If the rider breaks away too soon then fatigue effects due to the extra pedal force required to overcome the additional drag will result in them being caught by the peloton. On the other hand, if the rider breaks away too late then they will not maximize their time advantage over the main field. In this paper, we derive a mathematical model for the motion of the peloton and breakaway rider and use asymptotic analysis techniques to derive analytical solutions for their behaviour. The results are used to predict the optimum time for a rider to break away that maximizes the finish time ahead of the peloton for a given course profile and rider statistics. Keywords: Mathematical model, Air resistance, Asymptotic analysis, Optimization
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mathematics
Gaul, L. H., S. J. Thomson, and I. M. Griffiths. “Optimizing the Breakaway Position in Cycle Races Using Mathematical Modelling.” Sports Engineering 21, no. 4 (May 10, 2018): 297–310.
Final published version