Tour de France: stage 4 – bikes of the cobbles

Put some pavé on the itinerary and watch the teams’ equipment trucks grow. The fourth stage of the 2015 Tour de France featured seven sectors of cobbles and the bike suppliers got a chance to show off a whole different range of products. Jack Lynch offers a overview of some of the varying tech for the race to Cambrai…




Ready for the rough stuff…


– By Jack Lynch


“It’s a bike. I just ride it,” shrugged Nathan Haas when RIDE asked him if he was pleased about his new SuperSix Evo on the eve of the Tour de France. A glimpse at the teams’ bikes for stage four shows that most riders and all team officials do not share Haas’ blasé attitude towards the equipment.

Many racers will start the fourth stage of this already barbaric Tour battered and bruised and with minds clouded by physical injury. How they can mount their bikes and face seven sectors of dreaded pavé is a mystery to most civilians. Michael Matthews said that his goal is to, “make the time cut and fight again tomorrow,” which is a common sentiment across the peloton. Yes, many harbour ambitions to either steal some seconds on their rivals in the GC, some are genuine contenders for stage honours, and others are riding with the sole purpose of making either of these things happen for a team-mate or two.

Whether chasing small or large victories, the bikes look different today. They have fatter tyres and alloy bidon cages, some have irregular chainring configurations or thicker bar tape. Many riders will perform a tactical bike change to cope with the bumpy parcours.

Regardless of what a rider thinks about his bike, today’s selection could be the difference between winning or losing, starting and finishing.



Vincenzo Nibali’s (AST) Specialized Tarmac gets prepared for the race…



…but it will use his Roubaix for the latter stages of the race.



Many riders opted for in-line brake levers but the Europcar team was one of the few to choose them for both the front and rear caliper. Most other riders employed the levers to actuate the rear brake only.



Andrew Talansky (TCG), like many others was forced to use BR-R561 brakes from Shimano which are the equivalent of 10-speed 105. They may be slightly heavier and don’t stop as well, but at least they clear these 30mm tyres.



Mark Cavendish (EQS) is riding his old Venge rather than the new ViAS. It could be more comfortable over the cobbles for him and has extra tyre clearance.



IAM Cycling used 28mm tubeless tyres – every other team rode on tubulars as usual. IAM says it’s because the tyres can be ridden at lower pressure. The team revealed that they are putting around 70 PSI in these Schwalbes! No other team would divulge its secret pressure.



The reaction Giant-Alpecin gave when asked what pressure the tyres are pumped to for a rough race like stage four.



Injured rider Simon Yates (OGE) refuses to see what his heart rate is when racing…



Alberto Contador’s (TCS) thick bar tape.


Haimar Zubeldia (TFR) was quite particular about his measurements.



Zubeldia checks his stem’s alignment (for the second time…).



King of the Mountain, and stage three winner Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT) had to tighten both wheels before the stage commenced… lucky he checked!



Norwegian champion Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN) was also concerned about his stem.



FDJ riders line-up to get their tyres wiped after a quick coffee.



…Jean-Christophe Peraud (ALM) is a little less concerned about the colour of his rubber and rides through gravel to the startline…



Peraud was going to swap to a cyclocross bike before the cobbled sectors of stage four.



Rohan Dennis (BMC) had a slight issue with his crank, “I don’t want my cranks to come off before the cobbles,” he said.



What tech gallery would be complete without a shot of Froome’s Osymetric chainrings…?


Author: rob@ride

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