Is tech making racing too dangerous? – GCN Tech Show

We take a look back at some of the tech trends that might be contributing to some of the high profile crashes that appear to be sweeping the peloton

Clock18:07, Thursday 11th April 2024

In the Tech Show studio this week, Alex Paton is joined by Manon Lloyd to talk about rider safety in the professional peloton and its relationship with tech.

This comes after a series of high-profile crashes that have left some of the biggest names in the sport sidelined going into the summer block of the racing calendar. The question is, can tech be blamed for these crashes?

These days, races are faster than ever. In fact, the first three monuments of 2024 have all been won at a record-breaking speed. Sure, riders are fitter than ever, but tech also has a massive role in the increase in speeds. Aero bikes, skin suits, deep section wheels and super fast tyres all mean that riders can go faster for the same effort. This means that when a crash does happen it is likely to be higher in consequence and severity, because riders are simply going faster.

Beyond this, the progression of component technology has also meant that riders can be more aggressive than ever with their bikes. Since disc brakes have been widely adopted by professional riders, more trust is put in them meaning riders can brake later and harder, which can cause a concertina effect that can lead to crashes.

The same can be said for protection as well. In the 1980s, professional cycling looked very different to how it does now, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the case of helmets, which weren't mandatory back then. Although helmets are undoubtedly a good thing and have saved many riders from substantial head trauma, they have also relaxed the peloton to crashes somewhat, as they put more trust in their protection.

Hot and spicy tech

As well as rider safety, Alex and Manon are talking through all the latest tech news from the week just gone. With Paris-Roubaix over for another year, it's time to have a look at some of the tech used by the winners.

Mathieu van der Poel wins on his regular bike

In the past, Paris-Roubaix has been a race unlike any other when it comes to bike tech, with riders using specific bikes and heavily modifying components to carry them over the relentless pavé of northern France.

In this year's edition, however, the eventual winner Mathieu van der Poel won on a fairly stock bike. The only changes he appeared to have made ahead of the race was swapping his 28mm tyres for a set of 32mm ones. It is quite possible that this is the most normal bike to have ever won the race, at least in the modern era of cycling.

Lotte Kopecky used the Tarmac rather than the Roubaix

It was a Specialized Roubaix-less race for both the men and women at this year's edition, marking the first time that the bike named after the race itself hasn’t been present since its inception back in 2004. It certainly didn’t seem to hold Lotte Kopecky back at all as she would eventually prove victorious. Once again, the only notable change to the bike was the move to 32mm endurance tyres rather than the standard 28mm tyres she uses for the rest of the season.

Paris-Roubaix on a gravel bike

It wasn’t just wider tyres that teams looked to help riders navigate the 29 sectors of pavé that littered the routes last weekend. The team of Israel-Premier Tech went one step further and used Factor’s gravel race bike, frame the Ostro Gravel. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was to allow the team to run super wider tyres, however, they opted to only run 32mm tyres. The decision to use the Ostro Gravel came more from the desire to have a slightly longer and more composed bike on the cobbles.

Castelli’s new super aero Gabba R jersey

When the original Gabba was first launched, it was a bit of a game changer in terms of bad weather clothing. Although not waterproof, the Gabba is water resistant and highly breathable, making it a firm favourite among riders who want some protection from the weather without overheating from wearing a dedicated rain jacket. The new Gabba R jersey adds some pretty notable aero claims over the existing generation with the brand claiming it is faster than the San Remo skinsuit.

Topeak giveaway competition

This week, Topeak is giving you the chance to win the Pakgo EX bike case and a tune-up station, as well as three more tune-up stations up for grabs for runners-up. For your chance to win these prizes, make sure you get your entries in by 19 April by following the link here.

Bike Vault

If you want to see your shiny steed included in the bike vault, don’t forget to upload your photos to our uploader. If you’re unsure how check out this guide.

Once uploaded, you could be rewarded with a 'Super nice' vote, although our presenters are harsh judges who expect the highest level of presentation. This week, we have some special submissions from GCN staff that received extra scrutiny, but first here's an example of how to earn a 'Super nice'.

What do you make of the new shoes? Let us know in the comments section below. For all the latest tech developments make sure to head over to our dedicated tech news section of the GCN website.

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