Drafting and the Triathlon Cycle

Clearly, drafting goes against the standard rule of competing in triathlons, which is to test individual endurance. For this reason, drafting isn’t permitted.

Then again, you may have been aware of certain drafting-sanctioned events. This new development is only for professionals in races organized by the world governing body called the International Triathlon Union (ITU).

Triathlon Drafting



The thinking is that drafting-sanctioned events are more interesting to watch. Thus the ITU has pushed the rule change to garner more publicity, and Olympic inclusion. Some triathlon purists consider such events as stain on the sport, but there’s little chance that you’ll ever participate in drafting-sanctioned events.

The ITU doesn’t allow drafting-legal cycling legs for age-group triathletes, but if you do take part in a draft-legal race, it’s important for you to get experience with road training in a peloton (cycling pack). The most effective way to achieve this is to get in touch with a biking club in the area for group rides.

Training by Drafting

The most effective means to train for time-trial cycling is to become accustomed to the aero position and solo riding without the aid of slipstream – that is why most of triathlets choose not to draft. However, in certain conditions, drafting can come in handy.

For example, in group rides wherein packs form or a pace-line is organized (a pace-line is a line of cyclists taking turns breaking the wind on a rotating basis), participation depends on drafting. So long as it does not comprise the majority of your riding, there’s nothing wrong with training in this way.

If you are riding together with a training partner with superior riding ability, drafting could help you keep up with him or her, and put in more distance that you may be able to do by yourself. Your training partner must agree, and know that you are drafting, so he or she does not turn, or brake abruptly.

Partner Up

Lastly, when done with a dependable partner, drafting could enable you to concentrate on your pedaling form and efficiency. With the wind at bay, spinning in a slipstream may help you concentrate on finishing a full-circle pedaling motion.

One note: Unless it is otherwise agreed on, drafting etiquette dictates that riders take brief turns breaking the wind. To put it much more eloquently, don’t “suck wheel” without “breaking a little wind” yourself.

Good luck!


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