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Boardman laughs off French 'magic wheels' claim
1:18pm Tuesday 7th August 2012 in Sport
Chris Boardman, head of British Cycling's research and development group known as the Secret Squirrel Club, has laughed off claims magic wheels are helping the hosts to a stunning performance at the London 2012 Olympic Velodrome.
Britain have won five of the seven Olympic titles on offer thus far – including Southampton ’s Dani King in the women’s team pursuit - and, with three events to come on today's final day of track action, Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott are in strong positions to add to that haul.
The performances of rival countries appear to have plateaued since April's Track Cycling World Championships, while Britain have improved, with the French among those making insinuations about the host nation's displays.
Asked about the "magic wheels" comment, Boardman said: "It makes me smile. We used those wheels in Athens (in 2004).
"They are the same wheels. They're round and they're made of carbon fibre.
"It's the least technologically advanced piece of equipment that there is. It hasn't changed since '96 when (manufacturer) Mavic introduced the five-spoke wheel, it's still the standard now."
Under International Cycling Union regulations, all equipment must be commercially available and British Cycling's kit is through the UK Sport website, although no prices are specified.
The Secret Squirrel Club's attention to detail in a bid to enhance Britain's equipment is so renowned Boardman does not share the details with British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford.
Boardman declined to reveal the gains made by technology, but was at a loss to explain why rival nations are not following Britain's lead by doing research in wind tunnels.
"I could quantify it, but I'm not going to," Boardman added.
"It's part of a package. Everything they do is to the best they can be.
"All of the riders have been in a wind tunnel, because they have faith in the team and they understand the importance of aerodynamics. It's a technological sport.
"But they're the biggest lump, so they've invested a lot of time sitting in a wind tunnel.
"Chris Hoy's done eight-hour days sitting in a wind tunnel, helping us develop things and improving his own position and committing for four years to change his own position to make himself smaller, because that makes the biggest difference.
"Vicky Pendleton has done the same. They've all been through.
"The rest of the world has known since Beijing - well, they should've known forever - aerodynamics is a massive part of our sport.
"They're doing 50 to 70kph depending on the event, so why aren't wind tunnels a standard component in training? It's ridiculous.
"They measure weight, they measure power and this one force that dominates everything - 80% of energy expenditure - and they go off magazine articles and hearsay."
Boardman, a successful broadcaster and businessman with his own Boardman bikes empire, is stepping away from his frontline role with British Cycling after London 2012.
He added: "You've got to put the same in that they (the riders and coaches) put in and I know I can't match that. It's better that somebody else does it."
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