Lidl-Trek women's team embrace latest tech trends for Paris-Roubaix

Wide tyres, low tyre pressures and one-by drivetrains are the order of the day for Lidl-Trek

Clock21:03, Thursday 4th April 2024
Lidl-Trek women's team will be using a mix of 30 and 32mm tyres mounted to Bontrager OCLV Next thermoplastic wheels

© GCN

Lidl-Trek women's team will be using a mix of 30 and 32mm tyres mounted to Bontrager OCLV Next thermoplastic wheels

Lidl-Trek women's team head into Paris-Roubaix as one of the strongest teams, having won the race twice since its inception. To help give their riders every possible advantage the team has spent considerable time weighing up tech options and bike choices.

Ahead of Saturday's race, GCN spent some time with the mechanics at Lidl-Trek to discuss exactly how the bikes are being set up for one of the most unique races of the season.

Domane or Madone?

Lidl-Trek is a team with three bikes at its disposal - the lightweight Emonda, the aerodynamically optimised Madone and the endurance specific Domane. Out of these bikes, the Domane stands out as the natural choice for the cobbled Classic that features some of the roughest kilometres of racing.

The Domane was released in 2012 and was designed with input from Trek Factory Racing rider Fabian Cancellara for use on the parcours of Paris-Roubaix. The Domane was revolutionary when it was released as it featured the IsoSpeed decoupler that separated the seat post from the frame. This allowed for the seatpost to flex considerably more than on a normal carbon fibre road bike, acting as a dampener to the surface below.

With races becoming ever faster and with aero road bikes like the Madone encroaching on endurance bike levels of comfort, the decision over which bikes to use looks less clear-cut in recent years.

When asked what bikes the riders would be using one mechanic explained that it was around a 50/50 split between the Madone or Domane. He explained that ultimately the decision came down to the individual rider with the athletes making the call after spending some time on the course in the days beforehand. Although the Domane still has its place at Roubaix it does beg the question whether the endurance bike is verging on the brink of extinction from the professional peloton.

OCLV Next thermoplastic wheelset

Unlike the bikes used for the earlier cobbled Classics of E3 Saxo Classic, Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders, the team will not be using the Aeolus RSL wheelsets.

Instead, they will be swapping these out for Bontrager’s Aeolus V37 or V49 wheelsets that replace the typical carbon fibre and resin construction for a carbon fibre and thermoplastic matrix.

As a material, this has the advantage of being recyclable, something that traditional carbon fibre is not. As far as the choice for Roubaix this comes down to the rims' profile. The V37 and V49 wheelsets use a 25mm internal rim width that is better suited to higher volume tyres with the wheels capable of accepting a 40mm tyre.

One-by for the whole team

The route of Paris-Roubaix features very little in the way of elevation gain. With this in mind, the need for a double chain ring setup is minimal and with the cobbles presenting a risk for dropped chains the whole team has decided to use SRAM’s Red AXS groupset in one-by configuration. By getting rid of the front derailleur a chain guide can take its place in a bid to reduce the potential for drivetrain mechanicals.

Wide tyres and low pressures

Mounted to the Bontrager Aeolus V37 or V49 wheels are the recently spotted Pirelli P-Zero prototype tyres. Making the most of the bike's generous tyre clearances, the team are running a mix of 30 and 32mm tyres that look to inflate wider than quoted on the 25mm rim.

Wider tyres and lower tyre pressures are something we are seeing the peloton adopt this year, with most teams running a 28mm tyre as standard in road races. For Roubaix, the higher volume tyres offer more grip and better vibration dampening. This can help keep riders in control as well as helping to stave off fatigue.

With the cobbled sectors the defining features of Paris-Roubaix, the team are using a tyre pressure that will be best for these sections of the race.

When asked what range of tyre pressures the team will be using on Sunday Lidl-Trek's mechanic said between 3 and 3.2 bar (43-47psi). This depends on rider weight and if they are using the 30 or 32mm tyre. However, these pressures would have been considered unrideable only a few years ago.

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 our racing homepage.

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