Mission Rio 2016 – A Summary

How Biomechanics Can Help Win Medals

Over the past months, we had the honour of accompanying some athletes on their road to the Olympic Games in Rio. In different projects we were busy setting discipline-specific bike positions, have constructed and ground various customized insoles to optimize force transmission and have collected and analysed numerous data sets. The results are impressive, as the athletes we support have won three medals and achieved many more top-placements.

In this blog, we would like to introduce the different projects. Unfortunately, as non-Olympics sponsor the possibility to keep you updated during the Games was rather restricted, but now you get the whole picture:

Fabian Cancellara – Gold in the Individual Time Trial

Based on our cooperation with the Team Trek Segafredo as part of the precisionfit team with Paraic McGlynn we have been working with Fabian for a while now. Our goal in several hours of fitting with Paraic (both in the lab and at the track) is to optimally adapt Fabian’s position on the time trial bike to his individual style and his bodily predispositions. In Rio, he additionally had customized time trial insoles that enlarged the feet’s contact surface and thereby allowed for stable pushing movements in the pedalling cycle. Obviously, the course in Rio was not necessarily made for Fabian, however he could utilize his power perfectly and was rewarded with a fantastic gold medal! A great success for Fabian, his Team Trek Segafredo and the Precisionfit Team supporting them.

The Men’s Road Race

Also in the road race, a couple of riders used our customized insoles and rode in positions that we optimized. With a 17th place Bauke Mollema from the Netherlands achieved the best placement of the athletes we supported, closely followed by Fränk Schleck from Luxembourg on place 20. They were part of the strong group surrounding Chris Froome for a long time, but lacked a little power on the final climb. It was a strong race of both of them nonetheless.

Jolien d’Hoore – Bronze in Omnium

In this project, we have cooperated with the Belgian Cycling Federation and the aerodynamics-specialists from Alphamantis. In a daylong pre-aero fitting in March 2016 in our concept-lab, we have worked with Jolien on the different positions in the omnium-disciplines (pursuit, scratch, points race). We put an emphasis on obtaining a high position-stability. After an adaption period, Jolien went to the track in Ghent for a further day of meticulous work to get the most of her aerodynamic advantages. An elaborate project that was rewarded with a great bronze medal in Rio! Thanks to Andy Froncioni, Yago Alcade and the whole Alphamantis crew for an amazing teamwork!

The Women’s Road Race

In the women’s road race, the gebioMized hopes rested on the shoulders of AshleighMoolman-Pasio from South Africa, who is riding for the Worldtour Team Cervelo-Bigla.
We have been working with Ashleigh on different aspects of the road bike position since last winter to increase her stability in the saddle. Her top-ten placement in Rio is a great success and a confirmation of our path.

An additional Rio-project we were involved in, has some distance to cycling but is still an important milestone for us:

Beach Volleyball – Gold with Laura and Kira

We have accompanied Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst for three years in preparation for the Olympic Games, just as four year ago with the Team Julius Brink/ Jonas Reckermann. Every year, performance tests were conducted three times (winter, spring and shortly before the season highlight). An important variable in beach-volleyball is the jumping force. An attacker who jumps higher, stands over the net higher and longer, allowing more time and a beneficial angle to position the ball upfield. The same is true for the defence, when a block should protect as much of the own court as possible. Via force measurement under the feet in the sand, the current performance capability is put in relation to the force capacity and technical execution. This gives the coach some important insights on how to design the training. That Kira could successfully block an impressive seven times during the finale – and that against the local heroines and current world champions – shows that the whole planning worked out perfectly. This was rewarded with a richly deserved gold medal for the German beach-ladies.

For additional information on our projects in other disciplines, see www.biomychanics.com.