Tour of Flanders bike tech
Lots of great stuff on show at the startline of the Tour of Flanders in Bruges. Unfortunately I was on a tight schedule to get to a good spot to watch some of the action on the course, so only time to visit about half the teams with a camera. Here are some of the interesting set-ups and mechanical work I saw on show. With such a demanding ride ahead of them, and a few failures out on the road to demostrate this, it’s easy to see why the mechanics put so much work into getting each and every bike ready for this race.
Unlike some other teams Sky opted to run carbon tubular rims on the cobbles, as opposed to the classics-standard Ambrosio Nemesis rims of many teams. Seen here with locally made FMB Roubaix tires, the British team has been running the boutique handmade tires in all the classics racing so far this year.
The cobbled classics see many mechanics build up their bikes with chain catchers to avoid problems on the bumps or after crashes. Here we see the set-up of this years winner Fabian Cancellara. Whereas a few years back we saw many homemade solutions, now the most common are K-edge or Deda dog-fangs if the seat tube is compatible.
At the startline in Bruges FDJ’s Lapierre’s bikes looked very well sorted; with a few running Dura-ace rims with Hutchinson tubeless tires, these were the only bikes spotted in the race not running tubular tires. All the Lapierre bikes were running Shimano Di-2 and with matching Fizik saddles.
A new Pinarello was spotted amongst the team bikes on display at the start. Although not used by any of the riders during the Tour of Flandres, two bikes seem to have been accidently left on the roof of one of the Team Sky Jaguars. With a familar front end and a completely new rear not much was gleaned from any of the Sky mechanics present. However, look out for an announcement on this new ‘Roubaix’ style bike before the big race.
Lots of different brake pads on all the team bikes for the tough Flanders conditions. Here Saxo were running Swiss Stop yellow rear pads front and rear, in other places I saw different combinations of front and rear pads. All of them would have been very worn by the end of a damp and variable day.
On this bike it looks like Mavic R-Sys with Continental tires, the bike behind is sporting a set of Nemesis and Gilbert’s bike was running Ksyrium SL when he finished in 3rd. Garmin were also running R-sys on some bikes and Cosmic SL on others. An alloy breaking surface would definitely be an advantage on the some of the tricky descents of the race.
Lots of nice classics build details on Niki Terpstra’s Milram Focus. Ambriosio Nemsis rims in team colours – instead of the usual Lightweights, Sram TT rings to handle his extra power, lots of thick grease on the chain to protect it from the damp conditions and even an extra rubber piece on the front derailieur to protect the cable from mud. Great details and preparation.
All the Cervelo test team bikes were S3 fames except for Roger Hammond, who was their highest finisher in 7th and on an R3SL. Expect to see the whole team on R3 SL next weekend, execpt maybe a couple of riders on the longer wheelbase RS.
New Time I-click and Rotor cranks for Footon. I can remember when Time sponsored two teams with frames… now it’s just pedals for two teams. Notice the thick white grease on the chain, it was very wet at the start but did dry out during the day.
Skil-Shimano is a low budget team with big aspirations. Here we see the more traditional way of remembering the cobbled sections and length on display on the top tube of one of the teams Koga. Each climb and name is marked, hopefully the rider got to enjoy each of them on the way to Ninove.
All photos and text: Toby Shingleton
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