Zwift Hub turbo trainers at the Vuelta a España

Vuelta a España tech: Turbo trainers of the WorldTour

From the Wahoo Kickr to the Zwift Hub and Elite Justo, here are the turbo trainers we spotted at the Spanish Grand Tour

ClockUpdated 13:59, Wednesday 13th September 2023. Published 13:51, Wednesday 13th September 2023

Before and after many Grand Tour stages, a distinct whirring noise engulfs the paddock, buzzing among the team buses. It's the sound of riders warming up or cooling down on turbo trainers.

A Grand Tour peloton travels thousands of kilometres and following them every inch of the way is a horde of turbo trainers, a vital component in the WorldTour cog. On many days, a quick turbo trainer session is an essential part of a pro's routine, much like it is for everyday riders.

While the WorldTour can feel like an alien world, with tech far beyond the reach of the average person, most teams use turbo trainers that can be found in the pain caves of everyday cyclists around the world.

Here’s a run-through of the set-ups we spotted at the Vuelta a España. While we’ve only included one turbo trainer per team, many teams take more than one model to races.

Zwift Hub: Alpecin–Deceuninck

Alpecin-Deceuninck are the only team to use the Zwift Hub.

Zwift is one of the most recognisable brands in the world of cycling, providing a virtual platform for riders to explore and race in. Considering the premise of its business, it wasn’t too much of a surprise when it released its own turbo trainer at the end of 2022.

Alpecin-Deceuninck’s partnership with Zwift predates that release, and they’ve been teaming up since 2020 for the Zwift academy. This program gives one lucky rider the opportunity to join the team - but only if they can beat nearly 200,000 other competitors. Some riders have excelled since winning, most notably Jay Vine.

We caught a glimpse of the team’s set-up prior to the opening day team time trial when temperatures were in the mid-30s (degrees Celsius). To combat the sweltering heat, the team paired its Zwift Hub with a Wahoo KICKR fan.

Each rider also had a tablet with the Zwift app on, as did many other teams, plus Elite water bottles for that all-important nutrition.

Read more: How to get started with Zwift

Wahoo KICKR: Lidl-Trek, Bora-Hansgrohe, EF Education-EasyPost

Since its first release in 2012, the Wahoo Kickr has undergone plenty of development, most recently through the release of its sixth generation at the back end of 2022. The latest release featured in-built Wi-Fi connectivity for the first time, which is faster at transferring ride data than either Bluetooth or Ant+ which turbo trainers traditionally use.

Other new features include ERG Easy Ramp which makes it easier to ease back into an interval if you stop mid ride, rather than immediately having to hit the target power - a lung-bursting effort if you stopped during a hard section of a workout.

Having been around for so long, the Wahoo KICKR is one of the most recognisable names in the world of indoor training, and it’s used by three times at the Vuelta a España: Lidl-Trek, Bora-Hansgrohe and EF Education-EasyPost.

While Lidl-Trek and Bora-Hansgrohe use the standard-issue version, EF Education-EasyPost has one in very eye-catching pink team colours.

Read more: Wahoo releases two new indoor trainers: Kickr Move and Kickr Bike Shift

Turbo trainer jargon buster: Many training platforms feature ERG mode. When using this, a turbo trainer will automatically set the resistance level to match the target power output, no matter what your cadence is. If your target power is at 200 watts, the trainer will automatically set the resistance based on your cadence so that you hit the number. This works dynamically, so the turbo trainer will alter the resistance if you cadence changes to ensure you keep hitting that number.

Elite Suito: 8 teams

By far the most popular turbo trainer at the Vuelta a España, we saw eight of the 22 teams using variations of the Elite Suito at the race.

It was first released in 2019, adding to an already large range of Elite turbo trainers (there’s more to come in this list!). Incredibly easy to use, Elite designed it to be as simple as possible, and it requires no assembly - it’s just a matter of pulling it out of the box, connecting a bike and riding. That simplicity may be why it’s favoured by many teams who can set it up quickly and easily ready for their riders.

Elite Justo: dsm-firmenich, Groupama-FDJ, UAE Team Emirates

Elite pops up again on this list through the Elite Justo which three of the Vuelta a España teams use, including UAE Team Emirates who host two of the races general classification stars, Juan Ayuso and João Almeida.

Read more: Behind the scenes with UAE Team Emirates

Groupama-FDJ and dsm-firmenich also use the turbo trainer, although we also spotted the latter using the Elite Qubo. That stood out as it was one of only two wheel-on turbo trainers we saw at the race, as opposed to the direct-mount type which makes up the rest of this list.

After its release in 2022, the Justo became Elite’s top-tier turbo trainer, replacing the Elite Direto. It offers market-leading features including a near perfect power accuracy of +/- 1%, plus it can simulate slopes of up to 24%.

Turbo trainer jargon buster: Direct-drive turbo trainers have their own cassettes, so the rear wheel on a bike has to be removed and then the bike is clamped to the turbo trainer using a thru axle or quick release skewer. The chain is then connected to the cassette, through which the turbo trainer generates the resistance. For wheel-on turbo trainers, the rear wheel stays on the bike and sits on a roller which is used to generate the resistance.

Elite Direto-XR: Cofidis

With the arrival of the Justo, the Direto fell down Elite’s pecking order and that of the pro peloton too, except for Cofidis who were the only team we saw using it at the race.

Elite released the fourth generation of the Direto, the Direto-XR, in 2020, when it became the brand’s premium offering, with +/- 1.5% of accuracy.

Tacx NEO 2T - Astana Qazaqstan, Ineos Grenadiers, Lotto Dstny, Soudal Quick-Step, TotalEnergies

After Elite, Garmin-owned Tacx is the second most popular turbo trainer brand with six teams using its turbo trainers. We spotted five of those six teams using Tacx’s premium NEO 2T which, despite being released four years ago, is still one of the best direct-drive turbo trainers currently available.

That’s backed up by the teams who use it, including some of the big hitters like Ineos Grenadiers and Soudal Quick-Step, team of Vuelta a España defending champion Remco Evenepoel who we spotted using the turbo trainer ahead of the opening day team time trial.

Tacx Boost - Jumbo-Visma

Beyond dsm-firmenich, Jumbo-Visma were the only other team using a wheel-on trainer, in this case the Tacx Boost - a non-smart turbo trainer.

The team used it after stage 4 for cooling down but it’s also likely that they have the Tacx NEO 2T at the race too, having used it multiple times over the season, including at the Tour de France.

It certainly seems to be doing a good job as Jumbo-Visma have dominated the race.

For more cycling tech news, features and pro bikes, head over to the tech section on the GCN website, linked here.

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