Foto copyright Giro
Foto copyright Giro
Fuente info Newzfor
Exclusive: How Giro Made Lance Armstrong’s $15,000 Custom Helmet
By Mark McClusky July 3, 2010 9:00 am Categories: Equipment, Research
Lance Armstrong returned to the Tour de France in 2009 after four years away from cycling’s most prestigious race. At the age of 37, Armstrong rode his way to a third-place finish. And though it was one of the great athletic performances of our time, it paled in comparison to Armstrong’s seven consecutive victories in what could be the world’s most grueling sporting event.
Entering the 2010 cycling season, Armstrong was focused on improving his position in this year’s Tour as he tried to dethrone Alberto Contador, the rival and former teammate who won last year’s race. That commitment filtered down to one of Armstrong’s sponsors, an outfit named Giro Helmets. The Santa Cruz, California, company had recently launched an Advanced Concepts Group to do “real R&D,” according to Chris Bullock, the group’s manager.
The Giro team brainstormed project ideas and eventually landed on what seemed like the perfect one. What if it focused on building one helmet for one rider, so as to maximize performance? Armstrong was chosen as that one rider, and the cycling time trial –- which emphasizes aerodynamics, because each cyclist rides solo against the clock –- was chosen as the venue. The goal was simple: to create the fastest, most aerodynamic helmet in the world for the conditions Armstrong was likely to face.
“This project was really driven by Giro,” says Armstrong, who will wear the resulting helmet during Saturday’s prologue time trial in Rotterdam, Netherlands. “They went way outside of cycling to look at different sports and concepts.”
One of those concepts helped solve a major problem: How do you create a completely customized helmet for a rider who is constantly traveling around the world, not only for his cycling career but for his cancer foundation?
Simple, actually. You spend $15,000 working with a Los Angeles special-effects house to create a lifelike replica of the rider in his time trial position, along with a detailed model of his head and face.
The models allowed Giro’s aerodynamicists to work on various designs, which could then be tested in the wind tunnel without Armstrong present. And given the number of prototypes the company created, that was a very good thing.
“We made about a hundred different helmets and tried them on the model,” Bullock says. “We had five different wind tunnel sessions since the start of the year on this project.”
Giro knew that its standard aero helmet simply didn’t fit Armstrong very well. There was a gap between the tail of the helmet and Armstrong’s back, which is a big no-no in aerodynamics. With the model, Giro could focus on fitting the helmet exactly to Armstrong’s body and his position on the bike.
The concept that emerged from Giro’s R&D efforts has a short tail that tucks in the area between Armstrong’s scapulae. With a head-on wind, it’s slightly faster than Giro’s previous models, but in any crosswind condition, it’s considerably faster –- about 20 to 30 grams less drag. Also, the rider is able to move more easily with the helmet on.
A prologue time trial is typically a shorter effort than other Tour stages — just 8.9 kilometers, or 5.5 miles, this year. But in a race that’s projected to be one of the most competitive in recent memory, and with Armstrong needing every advantage possible, the three seconds the helmet can save him are crucial.
“I have seen tremendous technology changes throughout my career,” Armstrong says. “There is demand all around to innovate and rapidly try and test new ideas and technologies.”
Come July 25, Giro hopes to see this custom-built technology restore Armstrong to the top step of the podium for the 97th –- and Armstrong’s last –- Tour de France.
Etiquetas: Otros deportes