RECUMBENT versus REGULAR racing bicycle
Leo Rogier Verberne
Tour de France: faster end time when riding recumbent
Recumbent racing bicycles are excluded from cycling races since 1934. That’s why the question whether or not a competitive recumbent cyclist could win the Tour de France, has never been answered. On this website, the question is theoretically answered based on calculations in a Tour-model.
Carbon high racer (photo M5 Recumbent bicycles)
An appropriate recumbent bicycle (photo) is about 2 kg heavier than the regular racing bicycle of a professional cyclist. Moreover, the pedaling power of a rider is considerably less when cycling recumbent compared to riding her/his regular racing bike, even after a period of thorough training in riding recumbent. Which are two major disadvantages of the recumbent bicycle. Still, the cycling professional will be nearly 9% faster on the recumbent high racer when riding on level roads and 24% faster when descending (table).However, when climbing 4% and 8% slopes the professional will be 9% and 19.5% slower respectively on the recumbent high racer.
So the difference in terms of end time depends on the route of the Tour: more mountain stages, and especially when finishing on a mountain top (thus more climbing than descending), are detrimental to the end time of the recumbent bicyclist. Over the whole route of the model-Tour, Chris Froome could possibly arrive in Paris almost 4% sooner on the recumbent high racer, according to these calculations.
Sint-Michielsgestel, August 2017
© Leo Rogier Verberne