John Cobb Interview

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07/22/2003| 0 comments
by Thomas Valentinsen
John Cobb working with Lance Armstrong on his time trial position.
John Cobb working with Lance Armstrong on his time trial position.

John Cobb Interview

Thomas talks to aerodynamics god John Cobb about working with Armstrong and how Ullrich could have saved time in the Tour's first time trial.

In the world of cycling you are often referred to as the god of aerodynamics. How long have you been focusing on this specific area, and what makes you especially interested in this area?

I have been doing cycling specific testing since 1984. I Started by helping a local racer set a new state TT record and kept progressing from there.   I have a motor sports background and quickly realized how limited humans were for motors so I applied some of my race car thinking to the problems. I enjoy working with air flow and trying to figure out how to slip through it better.

 

How do you balance working with pro teams and maintaining a bike shop at the same time?

I generally work with the teams in the winter or very early spring. That leaves plenty of time for working with triathletes and age group racers during their racing season.

 

Often improving aerodynamics in time trials will cut only a few seconds off the finish time - but these seconds are crucial to contenders in races like the Tour de France. Therefore, teams must constantly make sure that they keep that edge over the competition. You're working with the
US
Postal team on time trial aerodynamics. What kind of agreement do you have with the team? Is there any exclusivity clause, or are you allowed to work with other pro teams as well?

I really just have a "handshake" deal with Lance that I won"t fix up any of his main competitors while he's racing in
France
. I've done some work with Nike on skin suits and stuff but that should help everyone. I was working with Rabobank earlier and I hope to be able to work with them again soon, they were very nice and understood the value of good positioning. Maybe after next year I'll be able to go to
Europe and work with more individuals or teams. I still work with many, many top pro triathletes and elite road racers here and in
Europe.

 

 

You have been working with Lance Armstrong for years now. How did your relationship with him begin?

I was working with Greg LeMond in 1989 and a mutual friend asked if I'd mind having this young racer come over to meet Greg and see a wind tunnel. Lance had done a local triathlon here and had set the course record so I had seen him and at least new he could ride a bike some. I used Lance for a few years as a model in the tunnel when I would be testing because he lived nearby. He understood pretty quickly how important the wind tunnel was for speed and he would occasionally buy lunch.

 

What changes have been made in Armstrong?s equipment and position since the 2002 Tour?

He has some new aero bars that might be just a little too long, he has been working on moving a little more rearward for about 2 years and he?s about there. The other changes are mostly

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