There’s a new style of changing gears in the peloton. The Aqua Blue team, as we’ve known for some time, is racing 3T bikes with SRAM Force 1x shifting. RIDE spoke to Larry Warbasse about what his “first hilly race on the system”.
The riders from the Aqua Blue team rolled into the sign-on for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. As we’ve known for some time, they’ll be riding 3T bikes with SRAM Force and, uniquely, only one front chainring. The 1x system that’s been adopted by many recreational riders and it has been used at times in time trials (and it’s commonplace in mountain biking) but it’s new to the WorldTour peloton.
The Irish-registered team isn’t ranked WorldTour but it is contesting a race from the UCI’s top-tier series today. And finally the product innovation that has been refined over recent years makes its debut.
What was immediately apparent is that some riders on the team had big front chainrings, others had relatively small ones.
Larry Warbasse, for example, will race with a 44-tooth at the front… and he can do so because his cluster features a nine-tooth option. Yep, nine!
We asked the US champion about his bike and what gearing configuration he’s using for this hot day of racing along the Great Ocean Road of Victoria.
Photos: Rob Arnold
RIDE: You’ve got a fantastic looking, customised bike. It’s a real talking point of the peloton this year. It’s the first 1x in the WorldTour – certainly in a WorldTour race – isn’t it?
Larry Warbasse: “Yeah, definitely on the road. Maybe some guys have ridden it in TTs before but we’re definitely the first team to be riding all 1x on the road, so it’s kinda a cool thing.”
I don’t want to go over a topic that you’re going to rehash quite a bit for the next few months but let’s just give it little overview. I heard you say earlier that it’s your first race with hills in it with a 1x… is that right?
“Yeah, really the first race was that criterium we did in Melbourne the other day and we had no issues.
“Today will be a bigger test for it though because now we have hills.
“When it’s on the flat it’s like, you don’t ever use your small chainring anyway – if you have one. So, it’ll be interesting to see today, on the climbs, how it goes. I think it’ll be fine.”
As US national champion, Warbasse gets a few special touches to his 3T Strada frame…
There’s some big chainrings and some small chainrings (being used by the team today)… can you give me the actual ratios?
“I’m on a 44 (front) x 9-32 (rear) and I have this 3T cassette. That’s one of the things that 3T did to try to make it, I guess… to have more possibilities to race in the pro peloton they made a nine cassette.
“So, 44×9 is equivalent to a 54×11 and then the 44×32 is about the same as a 39×28. So we have the same range just a little bit of a bigger jump between gears.”
SRAM only supplies one WorldTour team with groupset in 2018 – Katusha-Alpecin are using the Red eTap wireless shifting. While Aqua Blue is using the Force with disc brakes.
Are you going to hovering mid-cluster? What have you found you’re doing in the middle of a race situation? Are you in the nine a lot of the time?
“Well, to be honest, the other day was the first time I raced it so I didn’t even really think that much about it other than thinking that I didn’t have any problems with it. So it was pretty good… we’ll see today. I don’t really know where I’m going to be.
“Some of the other guys are on a 54×11-36… we have a range to try and we’ll see how it goes.”
– Interview by Rob Arnold
Photos: Rob Arnold
The Aqua Blue team is missing a rider who was meant to be at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race this year. Aaron Gate, from New Zealand, was in fine form at this point in the season last year but he fractured a wrist after a crash in the Towards Zero Race Melbourne event on Thursday.