In the high-end, futuristic scene of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team’s headquarters, seven riders from the Movistar Team spent their last few days before the busy racing schedule they will start tackling this weekend. Beñat Intxausti, Ion Izagirre, Adriano Malori, Jonathan Castroviejo and Alex Dowsett, plus GC leaders Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana, visited the facilities in Brackley in order to make several aerodynamic tests, with the aim of improving their time trial performance.
Accompanied by some of the Spanish team’s staff, the riders, divided into three groups, walked into the testing rig, where measurements were taken on their original posture before proceeding with convenient changes to increase their power output as a result of aerodynamic improvements. “It’s a matter of determining the cause and effect of every single variation,” explains Movistar Team performance director Mikel Zabala. “We made changes on the position of the trunk, head, hands, the arm rest on the handlebars… every element that has an impact on the rider’s position. It’s not only about getting the best position when it comes to aerodynamics, but also trying to make that comfortable to the rider. It must be a mixture between both conditions, and even though all of them have undergone changes, the work to make them valuable comes afterwards.” Zabala underlines that it will be “not only spending hours on the TT bike to assimilate the variation – in many cases, there’s also work to be done to strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility off the bike, so as to adapt oneself better to that new posture. We haven’t got a ‘magic wand’ for them to become faster. It’s a matter of training and taking efforts to make those conclusions have an impact on the racing.”
The tests on the Canyon Speedmax CF time trial bike were also used to check progresses on the Drag2Zero aerodynamic clothes the team’s official partner Endura has developed for months, and which left the riders really surprised after the tests. The Movistar Team’s leaders are hopeful about the effects of these tests. “It’s the first time I’m here and I’m leaving really surprised with everything I saw at the facility,” explains Alejandro Valverde. “Any small improvement you take becomes more and more important nowadays, and I’m convinved this can make a considerable effect on my performance. We have realized what is to improve in our aerodynamic position, and even though the decisive point is taking these changes into real racing, it does have use to focus on what to do, so we can make up many seconds in those long TT’s of fourty or fifty kilometers.” Nairo Quintana also expresed himself happy with the outcome: “It was a great experience. They have the best technology here and I think this can make me improve quite a bit on time trials. We made many changes, testing every component, every accesory, and I hope this to pay off on the road.”