Why are aerodynamics important?
Approximately 80% of the resistance felt whilst cycling can be due to aerodynamic drag (this will of course vary depending on your speed and the gradient of the road). Of that drag, around 70% comes from you. So, it is perhaps not surprising that one of the biggest gains that you can make on a bike is from changes to your body position. When looking to reduce your aerodynamic drag you should try to lower your body position and make your torso as flat as possible. Victor Campenaerts and Filippo Ganna are great examples of this! However, you don’t need to be a pro-athlete to see the benefits. Although, the likes of Campenaerts and Ganna are likely to see greater reductions in aerodynamic drag than us mere mortals , our exposure time (as we are riding at slower speed) will be longer meaning greater overall time savings.
However, it is important when thinking about your aerodynamics to not take things too far too quickly. Flexibility and core strength are both major factors in being able to get in to and, perhaps more importantly, being able to maintain an aerodynamic position. That being said, both of these factors can be trained and improved; you just need to make sure that you work on you first and then the bike! Developing these areas and working on your position progressively can also mean that you lose less power in your aero position relative to a more upright position. This can also be mitigated by spending more time in your aero position. We know those hard intervals can feel even harder when done in an aero position as opposed to on the basebars but you will be sure to reap the benefits come race day. Many cyclists are unable to put out the same amount of power in a lower, more aerodynamic positions due to, amongst other things, their hips being more closed. Although at first a loss in power can feel disconcerting, for most cyclists, riding in a more aerodynamic position will see them make a net gain in speed – getting to the finish faster! The more used to riding in this position you are, the greater the gains!