The 2021 season’s a distant memory… which means the 2022 season will be here before you know it. After a huge amount of off-season work that is.
Here, we catch up with UAE Team Emirates’ David Herrero to reveal more.
Campagnolo support and collaborate with professional teams all around the world including four of the finest WorldTour teams: UAE Team Emirates, Cofidis, Lotto-Soudal and AG2R Citroen Team.
At time of writing, Monday 22nd November, the majority of riders are enjoying some well-earned downtime in readiness for the 2022 season.
Behind the scenes, however, the teams’ expert support staff are analysing, calculating, researching and dissecting ways to maximise the interaction between rider and world-class gear like Campagnolo’s Super Record groupset and Campagnolo Bora wheels.
One such individual is David Herrero, the 42-year-old former rider who’s now taken up a different role at UAE Team Emirates.
Basque-born Herrero rode for several teams including Euskaltel-Euskadi before hanging up his bike shoes in 2009.
Now he’s charged with ensuring the likes of two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar, Fernando Gaviria and Marc Hirschi are at their optimum come the start of the WorldTour season in UAE in February.
Here, we caught up with Herrero to uncover how he’s making the fastest riders in the world even faster.
What is your role on the team?
My role in the team is to optimise the riders’ performance in terms of biomechanics and aerodynamics. That means taking care of every detail of material and positioning throughout the season.
We hear you’re new to UAE Team Emirates?
You’re right – this will be my first full season with the team. Previously, I worked with a number of professional teams and riders to ensure their biomechanics and aerodynamics were as good as could be. I’ll be doing similar here.
When does the team’s off-season begin?
Riders must rest after the long racing season, so although they’ve already undertaken some off-season work individually with new riders, the team has its first winter training camp in January.
There, firstly we will focus on optimising every riders’ positioning, so they don’t get injured and perform at their best throughout the season.
After that we perform the aerodynamic optimisation at the velodrome on time-trial bikes.
We know at Campagnolo from our wheel-development work just how important aerodynamics are to performance, so can you elaborate on that side of the team’s cycling?
The most important thing is to know what the rider’s CdA (aerodynamic coefficient of drag) is, so we can improve it and work with it. We measure that in the velodrome (using a telemetry system) and by wind-tunnel testing.
Normally, what we work on the most is optimising the aerodynamics of riders who are TT specialists or GC riders; that said, all of our riders are important and we try to work with everybody, especially using the telemetry system at the velodrome.
What parameters of performance do you test during wind-tunnel time?
Every detail counts so we study everything, from positioning and clothing to different Campagnolo wheels, materials or tyres of different widths and rolling-resistance coefficients. Combining both wind-tunnel testing and velodrome telemetry system allows us to maximise every aspect of both the bike and the cyclist.
Can you tell us more about the telemetry system, please?
Yes, with our telemetry system we take riders’ power and speed in real time, and we combine that information with static data like humidity, temperature and riders’ weight.
That allows us to perform an analysis of the cyclists’ CdA in real time, testing different positions or materials in a dynamic way.
What other testing does the team undertake?
Well, we perform biomechanical testing via an accurate 3D camera and 3D pedalling analysis system. We’ll also ensure their shoes are set up perfectly via a foot pressure-mapping system.
I’ve discovered that working with professional cyclists gives me the chance to grow as a biomechanist. You always learn something from the riders you’re working with.
Finally, how important is the off-season to every rider?
The off-season is the time to build the foundations of a successful season. It’s where the work that makes the difference goes on.
Often it remains unseen but there’s a huge amount of off-season work behind every win.