Our race never ends: DSM & Sport
Follow DSM’s innovation partnership with Team Sunweb, an elite professional cycling team competing in this year's UCI World Tour.
Despite the extraordinary circumstances and cancellation of many scheduled races, the 2020 UCI World Tour goes on, and our partnership with Team Sunweb, now in its fifth year, goes from strength-to-strength. The team, team partners Craft Sportswear, Cervélo Cycles and NAMEDSPORT> and DSM have toiled away together behind the scenes with the aim of fulfilling Team Sunweb's vision "to redefine our sport through cooperation and innovation: #KeepChallenging".
This year sees the team use more DSM innovations than ever before. In terms of apparel the iconic team jerseys have been added to the layers of protective clothing incorporating abrasion resistant Dyneema® and a lightweight, breathable rain jacket with an environmentally friendly Arnitel® membrane has already proved its worth in countless hours of training. Turning to the hardware, new 3D printed arm pads have been designed that support the elbow and forearm in the aerodynamic ‘high hands’ time trial position. Finally, the riders are provided with several nutritional supplements containing DSM's omega 3, probiotics, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Over the past four years the unique collaboration between DSM, Craft Sportswear, and Team Sunweb has delivered ground-breaking innovations to the world of cycling, including the protective bib shorts and a lightweight protective baselayer. Now, a new ground-breaking innovative solution has arrived: a protective cycling jersey that will deliver much-needed increases in abrasion resistance, and hence extra protection in crashes against open wounds, without compromising on the weight or comfort of the garment that cyclists demand. Moving forward, DSM will also work with its partners to integrate bio-based Dyneema® fibers into the protective cycling jersey.
While professional sport must – in essence – be exciting and showcase the athletic abilities of its participants, it must also be safe for people and the environment. Although not a contact sport per se, professional cycling – with its high-speed crashes and limited possibilities for convenient protection – certainly places its participants in considerable danger. In fact, according to ProCyclingStats, the Tour de France averaged 1.5 crashes per stage, while crashes in the one-day classics are even higher.
Nevertheless, the sport of cycling has considerable ground to cover to introduce effective safety regulations; of all cycling apparel, only helmets must be manufactured under guidelines relating to safety. Cycling jerseys, in particular, offer the opportunity to protect riders against open wounds and abrasions suffered in crashes, as well as allowing for moisture transport to the surface, offer low thermal resistance, and be as lightweight as possible. Manufactured to the same safety standards as helmets, cycling jerseys could be an important part of a wider protective cycling solutions package, helping riders stay safe across a broader range of race situations, and enabling protection for more areas of their bodies. This won't be the solution to all safety problems in professional cycling, but it’s an important link in the chain that contributes to a safer sports environment.
Challenged by its partner Team Sunweb to develop a fabric that delivers maximum protection without reducing comfort or adding weight, DSM Protective Materials has created a polyester based Dyneema® fabric. By using Dyneema® fabrics in their cycling jersey and baselayer Craft can provide cyclists with effective protection against open wounds and abrasions at speeds up to 60km/h. With professional cyclists spending up to 95% of a typical stage at around 60km/h or below, the fabric can offer this protection for most race time, as shown in the graph below. Even at speeds higher than 60 km/h, the Dyneema® fibers will help to reduce the severity of any open wounds that may occur, thereby helping to shorten rider recovery times.
In particular, being 15 times stronger than steel weight for weight, Dyneema® fibers offers excellent solution to increasing the abrasion resistance of a fabric, reducing the severity of road rash in case of a crash, without compromising the weight and comfort. Manufactured using renewable energy, Dyneema® fibers are produced with minimal carbon emissions or energy, lowering its environmental impact – while bio-based Dyneema® fibers will reduce this impact further in the future. What’s more, because of the positioning of the polyester fiber on the outside of the fabric, commercial designs can be printed on the Dyneema® fabric. All in all, the development of the protective jersey involved the pooling of unique capabilities from manufacturer Craft, Team Sunweb and DSM.
In contrast to many conventional jerseys within the world of professional cycling, the new Craft protective cycling jersey with Dyneema® fabric offers excellent functional performance and protection at the same time. In particular, the Dyneema® fibers enable moisture transport away from the body towards the outer polyester side of the fabric, helping to keep the skin dry and the fabric cool to the touch. These thermal conductivity properties help to regulate the body temperature, dispersing heat more evenly, and enabling heat from warmer areas to be more quickly cooled down by riding winds.
By offering modular protection in different layers of cycling apparel, riders can easily take off or put on these layers according to the race and weather conditions. As such, riders will still take advantage of some level of protection in even hot weather conditions - taking on the maximum level of protection that circumstances will allow without compromising on athletic performance.
Moving forward, DSM will also work with Craft and Team Sunweb to integrate bio-based Dyneema® fibers into the cycling jersey fabric – contributing to a circular and low-carbon economy with reduced consumption of natural resources and lower environmental impact.
With professional cycling subjected to the world’s scrutiny, cyclists and teams must lead by example for their global audiences. Above all, the sport must operate responsibly and minimize its impact on the environment. Sports equipment, in particular, must be manufactured with a low carbon footprint and without unnecessarily amplifying the depletion of natural resources, or using harmful materials that could endanger health.
After meeting the basic preconditions of sustainable operation, sport must – in essence – showcase high levels of athletic abilities. Sports equipment, therefore, should enable athletes to deliver high levels of performance while keeping wearers as safe as reasonably possible. Cycling rain jackets, specifically, are the first line of defense against the elements; their effectiveness in keeping riders warm and protected, without causing overheating or compromising agility, can make all the difference between winning and losing.
To meet the need for high-performance protective cycling rain jackets, sportswear manufacturer Craft, Team Sunweb and DSM Engineering Materials pooled their unique capabilities to design, develop and optimize a new range of cycling rain jackets with an Arnitel® membrane. This polyester-based membrane is 100% fluor-free, lowering its environmental impact by 70% compared to PTFE membranes, and enables high levels of performance and protection from a range of cold weather elements, such as rain and wind.
Indeed, this monolithic membrane consists of a closed surface, enabling a long product lifecycle since it lacks pores that are prone to clogging or lower performance over time. The rain jacket has been extensively tested and worn by Team Sunweb, demonstrating its high levels of functional performance and strong durability over time.
Unlike many other commercially available alternatives, the Craft cycling rain jacket has a low environmental impact, with a long product lifecyle. What’s more, the rain jacket is UCI-approved – a requirement for all garments of professional cycling teams – and can easily be printed on without damaging the Arnitel® membrane. In addition, the jacket offers 100% protection against wind and rain, keeping riders warm and protected in unpredictable weather, without compromising on their movements and athletic abilities. Indeed, the jacket keeps its performance throughout the product lifecycle.
That’s not all though. Our scientists at DSM are working closely with counterparts at Craft Sportswear and Team Sunweb to develop the next generation of rain jacket. In particular, we are looking into upgrading the levels of breathability of the Arnitel® VT membrane, thanks to its unique absorption and desorption technology, enabling superior athletic performance. In addition, DSM and its partners will continue to explore ways to decrease the overall environmental impact of the rain jackets – such as by manufacturing them more sustainably and leveraging bio-based materials – ensuring that the garments perform for both riders and the world around us.
This year, the partners worked with racing bike manufacturer Cervélo Cycles to develop a new solution to help riders improve their aerodynamics – and performance – during time trials.
By providing much-needed support in the tucked time trial riding position, 3D-printed arm pads (or wedges) ensure riders are both comfortable and aerodynamic and therefore able to deliver their peak performance. And naturally the unique design adds minimal weight to the bike.
To maximize speed and performance, it is well known that Formula 1 cars need to be as light and aerodynamic as possible. The same logic applies to professional cycling, and particularly to racing bikes. Since the invention of the bicycle, engineers have strived to improve performance by reducing weight and aerodynamic drag. Every gram of weight saved allows the rider to go farther, faster.
Aerodynamics is defined by the resistive force. An important element to consider is the body position of the rider on the bike. To reduce weight and drag, the rider should aim to position themselves toward the front of the bike. They should draw their body into a ‘tucked position’ by bringing their arms and shoulders in close, keeping their hands high, and tucking their head in.
Adopting these aerodynamic positions can offer a significant competitive edge for cyclists. Indeed, such gains are especially important during individual time trials, when riders must race against the clock without the favorable slipstream of surrounding cyclists. However, this position means the rider’s comfort is compromised, making it difficult for them to maintain for a significant length of time.
Arm pads are a simple yet effective solution to the problem of performance versus comfort. By increasing comfort, the pads allow the rider to maintain a more aerodynamic position for longer, reducing fatigue and increasing endurance. However, arm pads usually add weight to the bike; the last thing any cycling team needs, especially during a time trial. Racing teams typically strip down bikes to stay as close to the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)’s minimum weight requirement of 6.8kg, even if the time trial bikes will be a little heavier.
Team Sunweb asked DSM Additive Manufacturing to help develop arm pads that could keep their riders cycling in an aerodynamic position while adding minimal weight to the bike. The solution needed to be strong enough to resist forces of a bike speeding of +70km/h in downhill race sections.
To meet the challenge DSM turned to 3D printing technology. Compared with traditional manufacturing, 3D printing allows for greater flexibility in design and production. It also enables the easy customization of different types of bicycles. Meanwhile, production in low volumes is quick and cost-efficient, with multiple design iterations possible in a short space of time.
DSM’s unique arm pad design increases support for the elbow and forearm when held in a ‘high hands’ time trial position. The ‘wedge’ solution provides 15 degrees of tilt for the elbow cup, improving aerodynamic efficiency and ensuring a consistent, optimal position. Indeed, adopting the aerodynamic position enabled by the arm pad typically enables a cycling power (wattage) gain of at least 4.29W when travelling at a speed of 50km/h.
Using Novamid® ID1030 CF10, a polyamide 6.66 composite material with 10% carbon fiber, DSM worked with racing bike manufacturer and Team Sunweb supplier Cervélo Cycles to develop a new lightweight team specific arm pad design. The resulting product provides good surface finishing and is extremely lightweight, and is 40 grams (or 33%) lighter than the manufacturer’s standard arm pads, whilst structurally sound enough to absorb forces and speeds of over 70km/h.
DSM then worked with its equipment partner Juggerbot 3D to test and optimize the arm pads, which were printed using the latter’s F1-11 fused filament fabrication printer. Following the success of the venture, DSM Additive Manufacturing continues to leverage its material science, 3D printing expertise, and partner networks to help Team Sunweb riders unlock new levels of performance!
NAMEDSPORT> supplies Team Sunweb with the Veg Omega 3 fueled with Life’s™OMEGA from DSM. This plant-based omega-3, derived from algae, is 85% more potent than fish oil. The EPA and DHA that are in omega-3 fatty acids support brain, eye, and heart health throughout all stages of life. It helps with wound recovery and improves the muscle and nerve functions of the riders. These omega-3 are derived from algae and not fish, which means no fishy aftertaste and no depletion of the oceans fish supply! They are sustainable, vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free and GMO-free.
Reasons why Team Sunweb believes in Life’s™OMEGA from DSM:
Probiotics play a role in the maintenance of a healthy gastrointestinal tract and a normal immune system. Digestive comfort and strong immunity are very important to riders who are spending long periods at high physical intensity. It may also have a positive effect on athletic performance through improved energy expenditure during intensive exercise.
NAMEDSPORT> supplies Team Sunweb with soft gums fueled by FloraGLO® lutein and OPTISHARP® zeaxanthin from DSM.
These nutritional supplements help protect the riders' eyes against blue light emitted by sunlight (as well as computer and smartphone screens), too much of which can have an harmful effect on their sleep patterns and dull their reactions. Pro-riders are obviously exposed to a great deal of blue light during long days in the saddle racing and training, particularly in the summer months.
By its very nature sport is all about winning, and sparkling team and individual performances in this year's Tour de France resulted in three stage wins for the team.
First off was debutant Marc Hirschi who won stage 12 with the help of some brilliant work by his teammates to disrupt the chasing pack, and Søren Kragh Andersen doubled up to win stages 14 and 19. Marc was also recognized as the most combative rider overall.
If a picture is worth a thousand words.....
First published: 04 Sep 2020
Updated: 05 Sep (new images), 10 Sep (testimonial video Veg Omega 3), 11 Sep (testimonial video Vision Gums), 16 Sep (testimonial video rain jacket), 19 Sep (testimonial video arm pads), 20 Sep (testimonial video protective jersey), 21 Sep (stage winners) & 22 Sep (winning feeling video).
Follow DSM’s innovation partnership with Team Sunweb, an elite professional cycling team competing in this year's UCI World Tour.
Dyneema® is driving the performance of Team Sunweb’s protective cycling jerseys in the 2020 Tour de France.
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