By Mark Etheridge
Multiple Paralympian Ernst van Dyk is turning to technology for the defence of his hand cycle title at the 2013 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in Canada, next month.
Van Dyk was beaten to gold in the 2012 London Olympics as Alex Zanardi’s custom-built machine blew the field away. But Van Dyk has not rested on his laurels since his silver in London.
He’s currently in the United States, overseeing a brand new bike that he’ll use at the Canadian leg of the World Cup and also at world championships.
“I came up with some new concepts to build a bike to be able to challenge Zanardi better,” he told Road to Rio 2016. “We’ll see how that works out. The first ride was good, the bike is great and I’m looking forward to worlds now.
“My main idea behind the bike was to optimise it. On the computer modelling we were able to reduce the frontal surface by 25% which is going help the aerodynamics quite a bit so I can arrive at the end for the sprint a bit fresher. The fit is also very tight and the frame very stiff ÔÇô all geared to optimise my sprint and convert every single watt that I produce into speed.
“I need to get the bike weight as close as possible to 10kg. My current bike is at 12.7kg. The UCI is getting ready to produce a draft proposal on standardising the handcycles and I gave them a few of my ideas which they welcomed. Once accepted it will take a while to come into effect but I believe by the time we get to Rio it’s going to be all about the riders and not the bikes.
“My new bike will be 100% production and anybody can order it. It’s also under $10 000 so to me that represents something that is universally commercially available. They way it should be.”
Van Dyk’s completed bike cost less than $8000 for the frame. Compare that to Zanardi’s space-age creation which is estimated to cost in the region of $250,000 and one gets the idea of what the Italian’s rivals are up against.
Meanwhile, Van Dyk’s preparations are going well in the USA before his return to South Africa this week. “I’m in Florida and it’s their hottest month here The humidity is sky-high but the training is great. I’m getting some good workouts done and during one session, I did an hour of motor-pacing behind a scooter at over 42km/h which was greatÔÇª no downhills to rest here.”