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What is drafting?


The rule most carefully monitored by triathlon officials is that of drafting. Often participants draft while racing and never realize it. Competitors should not position their bikes any closer than three bike lengths behind another cyclist or a moving vehicle so as to benefit from reduced air resistance. Research has shown that drafting on the bike reduces the energy expended by 20-30%. Thus, working together with other cyclists to improve efficiency, performance, or position is prohibited and punishable by a time penalty. Race officials are continuously riding up and down the bike course on motorcycles looking for those drafting. Even those in the middle or back of the pack are not immune to drafting penalties. The "drafting zone" can be described as a rectangular area two meters wide and seven meters long surrounding each bicycle. To avoid being penalized, when you enter the drafting zone of another rider you must close the gap and overtake the rider within approximately 15 seconds. If you cannot pass the athlete in this amount of time it is best not to attempt to pass.



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