Fresh off of a winter cross training camp in Winter Park, Colorado, four members of the Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth team traveled to Mooresville, North Carolina to dial in their time trial positions on Monday at the A2 Wind Tunnel.
Pre-season visits to the wind tunnel facility in the heart of NASCAR country are becoming the norm for the US-based UCI Continental squad, who last year sent eight riders to Mooresville for testing.
For 2011, three newcomers to the squad, Michael Creed, Jason Donald, and Michael Friedman, along with Jesse Anthony, a late addition to the roster the previous season, donned the new 2011 team kit and set to work to hone their position atop the team's time trial steed, the Orbea Ordu.
Creed, Donald and Friedman, three of eight additions to the 15-man Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth roster, bring considerable experience to the squad, each having raced at the sport's highest level in Europe during their careers, and are expected to assume leadership roles on the team.
"I was very surprised to hear that Creed, Friedman and Donald had not perfected their time trial positions with their previous teams," team Performance Director Jonas Carney told Cyclingnews. "Maybe in the past they were considered domestiques, but in our program they will be leaders. All three of them are proven time trialists, and they will be critical to our team's success. We want to give them every advantage.
"Jesse was a late addition for 2010 and became one of our biggest GC threats, but unfortunately we were unable to bring him to the tunnel last year. He is a versatile athlete who can climb and also rip in a criterium.
"His only weakness has been the time trial. If he can make some modest improvement in that area, he'll be a dangerous GC threat in almost any race."
For Friedman, the wind tunnel testing provided valuable confirmation about information he only had anecdotal evidence of beforehand.
"I learned that my body is pretty sleek in multiple positions. I can ride a high stack as well as a low stack and have very equal numbers for drag, which is a good thing because not every time trial course is the same. It's good for me to learn that because now I won't hesitate in changing my position up or down one, two, three or four spacers.
"It's been a cool experience, too, because it's fun to geek-out with stuff we deal with on a daily basis. You always wonder 'what if?..is this more aero?' regarding various positions and equipment. I think it's very interesting information, and information is power. The more we have the better.
"In cycling it's all about that last two percent. If everybody's just as fit, and everybody's clean then if comes down to the bikes - position and aerodynamics."