NZ track cyclists rubbish 'hot pants' benefits

KEEPING BUNS TOASTY: Adidas-designed pants that British track cyclists will wear to keep warm until just before events start.
KEEPING BUNS TOASTY: Adidas-designed pants that British track cyclists will wear to keep warm until just before events start.

New Zealand's track cycling team have rubbished the revolutionary 'hot pants' unveiled by their British and Australian rivals, saying their humble electric blankets will do the same job.

Track giants Great Britain and Australia each flexed their muscles in the buildup to the Olympic track programme starting early on Friday (NZT).

The host nation trumpeted their new battery-powered heated pants, designed by sponsor adidas, which would keep their legs at an optimum temperature to improve their preparation for each race.

Australia countered by revealing their Institute of Sport (AIS) had been trialling similar pants behind closed doors, and would unveil them this week. They identified the clear gains for elite track cyclists if they can keep their muscles at a temperature of around 38degC between warming up for their events.

New Zealand sprinter Simon van Velthooven was succinct in his reaction.

"It's a whole lot of bullshit," he said. "It's adidas bringing out something that an electric blanket does just the same. We use electric blankets to stay warm without burning any extra calories between rides. I suppose you can wear them when you're walking around; that's the only difference."

Team pursuiter Marc Ryan, preparing for his third Olympics, said they wouldn't be intimidated by any high-tech advances Britain unveiled.

"I'd say a set of leg warmers would do the same job, the way the temperature of the track's been sitting at. I don't think it's going to be an advantage at all."

There was amusement in the New Zealand camp when the issue was raised. Tim Carswell, coach of the endurance team, said technology was important and they did everything they could to stay at the cutting edge. On-board computers which measure heart rates, power output in watts, and how atmospheric conditions affect speed, were their key training tool.

"We've had a great support team around all the riders. The equipment we've got is as good as we can afford to get with our budget and is the equivalent of all the teams out there," Carswell said.

Asked if the hotpants might give the British or Australians a crucial half a second, Carswell responded: "I doubt whether it would give them half a second. Some of those other teams are well known for chucking out misinformation.

"We've looked at a whole lot of different training aids and some of them we've taken on board and some of them we haven't. There's always boffins in the background coming up with great new ideas and sometimes they get to try them out on the team and sometimes we say no."

Fairfax Media