'Hot pants' plan to boost cyclists

With Team GB's medal tally growing on a daily basis, a pair of battery-powered "hot pants" could help track cyclists continue the country's Olympic glory.

The heated trousers, which are being used by Team GB's track sprint cyclists, including triple Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy, have special heated filaments which help to keep athletes' core muscles warm between warm-up and the start of an event.

Developed by experts from Loughborough University, British Cycling and adidas, the Adipower muscle-warming pants are said to perform a job similar to tyre warmers in Formula 1 racing, keeping the muscles heated in a bid to improve performance.

The Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre at Loughborough University worked on the project with adidas for three years, establishing the scientific basis for the trousers.

The research was led by Professor George Havenith, PhD student Steve Faulkner and Dr Richard Ferguson.

Prof Havenith said he hoped the trousers would help contribute to the success of Team GB, and added of the design: "Before trialling the suit with the British cyclists, adidas first wanted us to make sure there was a real benefit to performance.

"We did several studies measuring the muscle temperature decline that occurs after the cyclists end their warm-up, and we were able to show that, with added heating in the insulated trousers, it was possible to slow down the decline in muscle temperature while the athlete waits for the event to start."

Mr Faulkner said: "By keeping the cyclists' muscles warmer we found a substantial increase in sprinting power that would be of practical benefit to the Team GB cyclists."

After completing the scientific research, Loughborough also worked with adidas and British Cycling to develop the trousers further, taking into account input from athletes.