Victoria University researchers are helping Australia's Olympic BMX riders and coaches pursue their dream of international success.
School of Sport and Exercise Science researcher Dr François Billaut, along with PhD student and Cycling Australia's BMX strength and conditioning coach Daniel Cicioni-Kolsky, are studying acceleration capacity and fatigue development with elite BMX riders.
"Our latest research has shown that slight changes in gear combination – the crank length and gear ratio – used by riders during competition can lead to a 3% increase in bike speed, which can be very important at an international level," Dr Billaut said. "While results have been promising, there is still much research to do in understanding the specific demands of this recent Olympic sport."
BMX Supercross became an Olympic sport at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Australia is currently ranked number one nation in the world for both men's and women's BMX.
Elite Supercross riders typically reach speeds of 50–60 km/h in less than 3 seconds, and their race is generally all over in 40 seconds. The sport requires all-out sprint efforts involving explosive power from the lower extremities in addition to extreme upper-body coordination and strength during jumps and turns.
The study's laboratory and field testing is being done with Olympic riders in collaboration with Australian Institute of Sport's (AIS) Dr David Martin and sport science manager at Queensland Academy of Sport, Dr Mark Osborne. It is one of several AIS-Victoria University projects involving elite and Olympic athletes which are part of a broader Strategic Partnership Agreement between Victoria University and the Australian Sports Commission.
"The ultimate goal of this research is to enhance power output and fatigue resistance in these unique athletes and win more gold medals for Australia on the international scene,"Dr Billaut said. "Working towards that goal, and with renowned experts, is a fantastic opportunity."
One Australian BMX supercross rider involved in the project, Sam Willoughby, was recently crowned 2012 UCI World Champion in Birmingham, UK, and will fiercely defend his title at the London Olympics. The Men's BMX event at the London Olympics kicks off August 8.
Dr Billaut is a Research Associate with Victoria University's Institute of Sport, Exercise & Active Living.
Title image for this story courtesy of CraigDutton.com