WorldTeam Former world hour record holder puts Lotto Soudal riders in the right position

"It can sound strange, but you need to dare to put the riders higher on their bike", says Lars Teutenberg.
General 31 December 2020

Former world hour record holder puts Lotto Soudal riders in the right position

He is a world authority when it comes to aerodynamics and bikefitting. Lars Teutenberg is a former pro rider coming from a real cycling family. Brother, sister and daughter were and are pro riders too. After his career, Lars Teutenberg broke three times the world hour record on recumbent bikes or HPV’s (human powered vehicles). 82.6 kilometers in one hour, in 2002. Speed and aerodynamics are in the German’s genes.

I did one attempt, in Belgium, on the race car circuit in Zolder, but I crashed. I did some modifications on the vehicle and later on I did three attempts on another car test circuit. It always was a good demonstration of how powerful aerodynamics is”, says 50-year-old Lars Teutenberg.

“I was always obsessed about aero and I was always thinking out of the box. You always learn something, from the people involved, from the bike, from everything belonging to the bike, the different inertia aspects and so on. It is a process of constantly learning.”

In this way the German specialist is the right man to put Lotto Soudal riders perfectly positioned on a bike.

What I knew and learned back then, in my HPV period, I’ve applied to myself. On the track I was one of the first riders to use that new LeMond-Tour de France-type - now standard - cockpit. Later on, everyone was using it. I already used clinchers way before other riders did. I think Tony Martin was the first rider winning a Time Trial World Championship on clinchers. Later, he always won on clinchers. Now it is quite standard. Fifteen, twenty years ago, everyone looked at them as just training tyres. If they did… Most pro riders still think it only belongs to a city bike. The evolution of the wheel is very interesting. A wheel stays round, but everything else underwent some major changes the last twenty years.

Teutenberg’s passion became his job. “While I was a rider, I already did tests for other riders and teams, in the beginning especially for Jan Ullrich. Around 1994 I did the first tests for SRM, I was in the wind tunnel with my recumbent bike, and later on I came there for some teams, as I already knew how to work there. When I stopped racing, I became the technical guy in T-Mobile. That team became High road, and there I met Maxime Monfort.”

Monfort, Lotto Soudal’s Performance Manager became Belgian TT Champion in that period. Since then they stayed in touch.

Now we do some preliminary tests in Hasselt at the team days, but later on, we will do more specific work on the track. We have an extremely good Ridley bike, but in the end - from the bike fitting point of view - it comes more to wheel and tyre interaction. There is a lot of potential in the skinsuits as well. There is still a lot of work to do. On the other hand, I have to say that Lotto Soudal already did a good job in the past. For some experienced riders we just need to do some minor position changes. Other riders have a specific problem and then we try to find an individual solution. But… we still have the - many - young riders… There’s still a lot to do for them, as they had nothing in the past.”

Most important thing: you need to dare to put the riders higher. When you put a rider - let’s say - 5 centimeters lower, you can obtain a time gain of two or three minutes in a one-hour ride. That’s impressive. But most riders sit already a little bit too low. Now I put many riders higher so that they can produce more power. They can hold the position better. After some adaptation to the new position, they all get a little bit of home work to do. And then it is my job to find the correct balance. Aerodynamics, you can measure, though it is still individually per rider, as everybody has a different body shape. It is hard to say scientifically “this is your exact height”. Aerodynamics is a complicated issue. A lot of factors play a role that you cannot see. On the other hand for the power output, we rely most of all on the feedback of the rider. All details count. Marginal gains lead to significant improvement. The gaps between teams are getting smaller and smaller and that’s why we are here.

One of the next steps for the Lotto Soudal riders will be the tests on the track of Valencia at the coming January training camp.