Robby Ketchell is the in-house genius that Garmin Barracuda uses to figure out how to win big races. His official title is team aerodynamicist or director of sports science or Mr. Cycling Wizard.
Less than a week ago, team boss Jonathan Vaughters’ tweeted that Ketchell deserved the credit for Garmin-Barracuda’s win in the team time trial at the Giro d’Italia. He is so valuable that Garmin didn’t miss a beat a few years back when highly respected team physiologist Allen Lim moved over to RadioShack during the Lance 2.0 comeback. One thinker out, another thinker in.
We talked with Ketchell outside the Garmin-Barracuda bus before the start of stage one of the Tour of California. The subject was Andrew Talansky and the Bakersfield time trial.
Coming off the recent Tour of Romandie where he took second overall, Talansky is flying and Jonathan Vaughters has been calling him the potential “surprise” here in the land of wine, cosmetic surgery and BMW buddhists.
The time trial in Romandie had a lot more uphill but Ketchell still expects good results from Talansky. “There was obviously a really big climb in Romandie — but one thing to notice is that Andrew was the only one in the top three riding a time trial bike,” said Ketchell. “Which shows he is really powerful in that position. In Bakersfield, aerodynamics are going to play a key role. It’s going to be windy and he can still do a really good ride. There’s a little climbing to it which I think is in his favor.”
What Talent-Sky also has in his favor is the meticulous and analytical Ketchell. “We really take a pretty statistical approach looking at what’s gonna make a rider faster on each course and modeling the terrain and wind profiles,” said Ketchell. “That’s what we did in Romandie. We’ll do the same thing with equipment here.”
Garmin-Barracuda has options, cards to play, extra dice to roll, more than one game of charades to pantomime. In other words, there’s Tom Danielson, top ten in Tour de France, and the kid, Mr. Almost Knocked Bradley Wiggins Off His Friggin Podium in Romandie.
He has Robby Ketchell behind him and that only means one thing: faster.