Hot tech of the cobbled Classics

We take a look at some of the most eye-grabbing tech that teams have on display

Clock11:57, Sunday 31st March 2024

The Spring Classics are well and truly here with the races of E3 Saxo Classic and Gent-Wevelgem acting as a build-up to the crescendo of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Ahead of the E3 Saxo Classic, Conor Dunne and James ‘Hank’ Lowsley-Williams managed to get into the paddocks and find some of the hottest tech the teams are using.

Prototype Pirelli tyres

The E3 Saxo Classic is often called the ‘mini-Tour of Flanders’ covering a similar, albeit shorter, route as the cobbled Monument. With many of the same punchy cobbled climbs, the race is a perfect dress rehearsal for teams to get their equipment in order.

The team of Lidl-Trek were spotted using a new tyre from Pirelli marked up as a ‘prototype’ which we can assume is a new P-Zero Race.

Read more: Lidl-Trek using a prototype Pirelli P-Zero Race tyre in the Classics

Following the current peloton trend, the riders mostly used a 30mm width with some riders using 28mm or 32mm depending on their preference. The new tyres we set up are tubeless and look to measure up wider than the stated width when mounted onto the wider Bontrager Aeolus RSL rims.

With the same profile and tread pattern as the existing P-Zero Race it looks to be the compound that has had an update. As far as tyre pressures are concerned, the team were running between 68-78psi depending on the tyre width and rider weight.

The long stem still has its place

Before the advent of one-piece bars and stems, integrated cockpits and professional bike fits, pro riders would often fit the longest stem they could find to put themselves in a long, low and stretched-out position. In recent times this trend has definitely faded somewhat. However, across the peloton there are some riders that need the extra room a long stem can give.

EF Education-Easy Post rider Jonas Rutsch measures in at 196cm making him one of the tallest riders in the peloton. To make his 58cm Cannondale SuperSix Evo Lab71 fit he uses a 170mm stem, one of the longest you will find anywhere in the professional peloton.

Rutsch is not the only rider sporting an outrageously long stem. Rasmus Bøgh Wallin of Uno-X Mobility was also sporting what looks to be a 160mm stem at 195cm in height Wallin has paired his lengthy stem to a very narrow bar from AeroCoach. The profile of the bar flares out at the drops giving the rider better leverage when sprinting out of corners on the drops.

Wider than ever tyres in use

Most teams had opted for 30mm tyres at E3, however, both Ineos Grenadiers and Astana Qazaqstan were spotted using even wider 32mm tyres. The advantage of wider tyres seemingly comes with no downside as wider tyres up to 35mm can be at least as efficient as narrower tyres out on the road.

It wasn’t that long ago that tyres of this width would have been unthinkable but now they are becoming widely adopted with some teams using 30mm tyres all season regardless of the road surface.

Tubular tyres aren’t dead

Although Lidl-Trek were spotted using the unreleased Pirelli prototype tyres, there was one rider that was omitted from this. Former world champion Mads Pedersen had opted to run a set of Pirelli P-Zero tubular tyres instead. The advantage tubular tyres have over tubeless tyres, especially in cobbled races is that they can be ridden when they are punctured.

Tubular tyres are physically glued onto the rim of the wheel so even when they are flat there is no chance of them coming off. In pivotal moments in the race, the ability to ride to the end of a cobbled sector where you can get help from a roadside team helper could make all the difference.

For all the latest from the world of cycling tech make sure to head to our dedicated tech news section and to keep up to date with all the racing over this Classics season make sure to head to our racing homepage.

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