Mark Cavendish and his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team-mates have been in Valencia, Spain, fine-tuning their time trial set-ups ahead of the 2014 season.
OPQS riders’ time trial positions were assessed by a team of experts, with any tweaks then being tested out in the controlled conditions of Valencia velodrome.
Team sport and development manager Rolf Aldag said: “Last month we had testing in the Specialized wind tunnel at Morgan Hill. On the track, it’s a little bit of a different scenario. It’s still all about positioning for the time trial bikes, but a different environment. With Specialized we had a structured plan for these guys in mid-November, and now we’re back on the track to confirm what we had seen in the wind tunnel.
“It’s always a learning process. You can never say you are done and we don’t have to do this anymore. There is always something more to improve on and work with.”
Aldag feels that any positive alteration to a riders’ position, however minor, is well worth the effort: “It’s a lot of work for small gains, but it’s definitely worth it to do these kinds of tests, especially when you do it for the guys who have never been tested, and we had participants who hadn’t. But it’s also important for guys like Cavendish. He’s been on the track before and tested on aerodynamics, but you still can work on the details and try to understand where you can lower some drag and get some better numbers for him.”
Aldag referred back to Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s successful defence of its world championship team time trial title this year. “In 2012 we won by about three seconds in the UCI TTT Championship. In 2013 the difference was less than a second. So, with those fractions of time differences, we can be happy this kind of stuff is done.
“We don’t have to do all of this hard work on our own and start from scratch with our riders in the time trial. We have experienced people to help us and it really helps give us a bit of an edge.”
Mark Cavendish on the track
Fine-tuning ride position