Armstrong reunites F1 team in wind tunnel

  • By
  • Published Nov. 6, 2008
  • Updated Nov. 6, 2008 at 10:27 AM EDT

Lance spends two days in San Diego testing in the tunnel and on the track

By Jay Prasuhn

Steve Hed was on hand to help Armstrong with his cockpit fit.

Photo: Jay Prasuhn

Lance Armstrong’s return to racing had many wondering if his vaunted Formula One crew would also make a come back. That answer came this week with the resurrection of the technical group born years ago to optimize Armstrong’s time trialing.

At the San Diego Low Speed Wind Tunnel Tuesday, several key product engineers and aerodynamicists from the F1 crew regrouped to again push the envelope on Armstrong’s behalf.

“When he said he was going to come back, the atmosphere around Trek was like, ‘here we go, the train’s going, get on board,’” said Trek engineer Mark Andrews. “We have a ton of resources, and that helps out immensely in putting together some new gear that we can offer him for his upcoming races.”

Others gathered at the tunnel included longtime friend and coach Chris Carmichael and aerodynamics expert Steve Hed. Trek road product manager Scott Daubert and engineer Mark Andrews also attended, as did SRAM’s Alex Wassmann, who was there to work with Armstrong on the SRAM Red groupset.

A look at Armstrong’s testing from the dark confines of the San Diego Low Speed Wind Tunnel control room

Photo: Jay Prasuhn

American phenom Taylor Phinney was there, too. Phinney recently announced he would ride on an under-23 team spearheaded by Armstrong and sponsored by Trek. Phinney got in the tunnel following Armstrong’s four-hour session.

Armstrong’s Astana teammates Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer were slated to visit the tunnel the following day, as Armstrong went to the Home Depot Center Velodrome in Los Angeles to put his position testing to work.

Armstrong’s comeback put testing and production into overdrive, several of the Astana team sponsors said.

“We had some things already under way, but this will help accelerate those projects, “ Andrews added. “The big thing is we know the routine to get him what he needs.”

Armstrong played with forearm position during an hour-long media session, then closed the doors for private fit testing

Photo: Jay Prasuhn

Central among the parts at the tunnel was a matte black Trek TTX SSL frame that Armstrong tested, a black Livestrong skinsuit and Giro aero helmet.

Trek had Alberto Contador’s spare time trial bike from the summer Olympic Games on hand. Trek made the bike lighter for the hilly Beijing course, with tricks like removing expander wedges and instead bonding parts including the brake and shift levers into the aerobar.

Designers from Giro were on hand with several aero helmet iterations for Armstrong to test along with his baseline Rev Six, a shape that has remained exclusive to Armstrong and the then-Discovery team since 2004.

Wassmann confirmed that SRAM is working on some parts exclusive to Armstrong, while Hed had also been testing prototypes wheels in the days leading up to the athlete fit sessions.

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