A very special year - Jos van Emden and Mathieu Heijboer about innovation and time trial
In the second part of the series 'A very special year' Jos van Emden and Head of...
Team Jumbo-Visma has an exclusive collaboration with the Technical University in Eindhoven (TU/e). Before the TU/e had a wind tunnel, this collaboration existed on a relatively small scale. The team is now seen as an ambassador for the modern wind tunnel.
In October, this intensive cooperation resulted in a real 3D model of Primoz Roglic. Mathieu Heijboer, Team Jumbo Visma’s Head of Performance, talks about the cooperation with the TU/e and about Roglic’s dummy in particular.
According to Heijboer, testing riders in the wind tunnel means more than just looking for the perfect position. “The wind tunnel is also extremely suitable for testing materials. What is the best material and how can our partners develop this? When testing clothes and helmets, you measure such small differences that they are almost impossible to measure on a living rider. Of course, there is always some kind of movement. For such situations, it’s best to use a dummy, a 3D model.”
It all started with a dummy of sports director Grischa Niermann. “He was a cyclist with an average shape. On his dummy we could then quickly start testing clothing in cooperation with our clothing partner AGU. We were really impressed. TU Eindhoven then took the initiative to do the same scan with Primoz. He is one of the best classification riders. It’s not easy to have him come to Eindhoven every time. So it’s an advantage to be in possession of his dummy. We had him cast in his ideal time trial position. Thanks to the tests with the dummy, we can let him race with the best suit, the best helmet and so on.”
There are plans to have such dummies made of other riders. “It would be good if that were to happen. Applying this to more riders means a huge investment for the TU/e. Aerodynamics is important for every rider. It’s always a matter of looking for ways to overcome the minimal differences. During a time trial you sit relatively still, so that is easier to simulate. Sprinting is very dynamic and that makes it more difficult. Though I expect it will be possible in the future.”
Heijboer is delighted with the cooperation between Team Jumbo-Visma and TU Eindhoven. “They want to take steps. They think much further ahead than just next year. All kinds of departments, such as robotics and data analysis, are involved. They have a lot of expertise. Professor Bert Blocken is constantly working on bringing these ‘fields’ together to achieve the best possible result for them and, of course, for us as well.”
According to Heijboer, the biggest profit for now is the latest time trial suit. “The suit that we currently have is super good. We needed quite a few of ‘wind tunnel days’ for that, however. This is really the result of the collaboration between Team Jumbo-Visma, the TU/e and clothing partner AGU. The time trial suit is a product of good partnership.”
"You need to keep trying until you have the perfect combination"
The smallest details can be decisive for both the bikes and the time trial suit. What material do you play out at what moment?
In addition, the time trial suit is constantly being optimised. Close attention is paid to almost every part of the suit. “Where do you place the shirt number? Which fabric do we use for which part of the body? It’s an infinite puzzle. You need to keep trying until you have the perfect combination. That’s a matter of continuing to test and measure.”
For Roglic, too, a world has opened up. “At first he reacted a bit cold when we started the project. When he finally saw the dummy, he was immediately enthusiastic. The dummy is very similar. Primoz also discovered the possibilities we have with it.”
These developments fit in seamlessly with the DNA of the team, in which an important role is reserved for innovation. “We have taken so many steps. We have always kept an eye on development, even when the team was not doing so well. New ideas are coming from all ranks of the team. Everyone has the passion and drive to get better every day.”