The GB track team heads into the Rio Olympics on a Cervélo after UK Sport ended its five-year partnership with Pinarello in May 2015 before hooking up with the Canadian aero guru. Here is the machine that British Cycling hopes will enable its track riders to bring home the bacon from Rio.
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While it says Cervélo on the down-tube, the T5GB is still very much a collaborative effort; British Cycling’s technical development department, colloquially known as the “Secret Squirrels,” which was formerly headed up by Chris Boardman, was again at the heart of development, working with Cervélo alongside support from the English Institute for Sport.
The Squirrels had a reboot post-2012, with Boardman leaving to concentrate on his own business (but remaining a consultant) and Professor Tony Purnell filling his shoes.
He brought his expertise from Formula 1, where he was the principal on the Jaguar team in 2002, and his knowledge of wind-tunnel analysis has helped make the British-made bike what they claim is the most aerodynamic model the GB team’s ever ridden. It “represents [the programme’s] quest for continuous improvement,” says Purnell.
The Cervélo T5GB was developed over the course of hundreds of hours of wind-tunnel analysis, stress testing and computer simulation at sites in Oxford, Leicestershire and Nottingham, as well as British Cycling’s Manchester base, the National Cycling Centre.
The British-made track bike is said to be the most aerodynamic model that the Great Britain Cycling Team has ever ridden. Eagle-eyed readers will note, however, that it does not sport a left-hand drivetrain, like the Felt model that the USA Cycling Team unveiled for Rio.
“The intelligence and expertise brought together by the partnership between British Cycling and Cervélo is unparalleled and, in record time, has delivered a bike which we are very excited about as we get closer to Rio," said Tony Purnell, Head of Technical Development for the GB Cycling Team.
“Over recent years, our programme has produced some of the very best track cyclists in the world – as is evidenced by their tremendous success in recent Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is our constant aim to ensure that the best athletes in the world are supported by the best equipment in the world. It’s about the detail – achieving the very best of everything."
The five-year deal with Cervélo came late in the Olympic cycle, a surprise for an organisation that stakes all its chips on the Games, with the firm calling it a “challenging project.”
GB largely rode Cervélo’s T4 at March’s Worlds, while both sides aren't giving anything away regarding the T5GB's finer details at the time of writing but if history tells us anything, it’s that this bike will be very fast indeed. The bike pictured looks to be for display purposes only, so expect to see the team on Mavic wheels and custom components in Rio, with sprinters possibly on a different model to match the event’s unique demands.
The Rio 2016 track cycling events are scheduled to take place from August 11-16, with ten medal events split equally between the men and women: team sprint, Keirin, team pursuit, sprint and omnium. For the full calendar head here.