Romain Bardet in the Geneva Wind Tunnel (Photo: cinemargot.com/mavic2016)
Expert bike fitting consultant, Mat Steinmetz, and world renowned time trialist, David Millar, joined 2016 Tour de France runner-up, Romain Bardet (Team AG2R LA MONDIALE) in the Geneva Wind Tunnel during the first team training camp last week.
Along with Team Performance Directors and Factor Bikes co-owner, Rob Gitelis, the ultimate goal of the session was maximum speed for effort on the brand new Factor Slick Time Trial bike.
With David’s 18-year professional racing experience and his passion for the time trialling discipline, David joined the session with the hopes of rubbing off some of the love and experience onto the young Grand Tour contender.
“I have been helping Romain adapt his position and share my experience and love for time trials. Trying to put a little bit of that on him, because obviously, time trials are not something that he loves quite as much as me," explained David, "This is a great bike and that has excited him a bit because I think generally he didn’t enjoy riding time trials.”
51 SPEEDSHOP and Factor Bikes have been working in collaboration on the Factor Slick and with Mat’s expert knowledge in the field, Romain was has been aligned with the best in the industry to empower him during time trials.
”Factor and 51 Speedshop have worked on a collaborative project to create a proprietary front end for the Factor Slick. We are here [in Geneva] trying to figure out how to position Romain so that he is comfortable, powerful and aerodynamic on the Factor Slick because the ultimate goal is speed," said Mat.
Finding that fine balance in time trialing between comfortability, speed and aerodynamics can be difficult, however, as David explained to Romain - time trials are not meant to be comfortable.
David said: “I think a lot of people make the mistake that they don’t like time trials and they think that it has to be comfortable in order to for it to work and generally it is not. It’s a very uncomfortable position and one that you can only use at threshold - when you are already hurting. Normally you are going so hard that your body hurts so much you forget about the uncomfortable position. So there is no real secret to it, you just have to get what works biomechanically and face the fact that it is not going to be comfortable.”
Mat said: “It is definitely a balance because the whole time I have been working with Romain, I am just saying ‘lets get information’ because ultimately he is the deciding factor. I define comfortability as sustainability, so the ability to maintain your position for the duration of your event. I just need to make sure he can adapt and hold that position.. We are here in the tunnel so we are getting objective feedback but we are also getting subjective feedback from Romain to tell me ‘this feels good’ and not just cramming him into a position.”
Romain and his team saw significant gains on the Factor Slick during the session as they fitted the rider and bike into an optimal position. Of his first impressions of the Factor Slick and working with Mat and David, Romain said: “I am very satisfied with my first contact of the Factor Slick. During the wind tunnel tests, I really felt at ease and the gains are really obvious. It is really an amazing bike – performance and aesthetic. I enjoyed the presence of David and Mat. David was a huge reference on time trials during his career and it will help me improve my skills in that particular discipline.”
The session was organised by Mavic – the official wheel supplier to Team AG2R LA MONDIALE in 2017 – with the testing and work on Romain’s position made in close collaboration with the Team’s performance directors.