Tobias Foss will use a monster 68-tooth chainring for UAE Tour time trial

Larger chainrings are becoming popular for time trialling but the Norwegian has taken this to the next level with a barely believable 68t chainring

Clock11:05, Monday 19th February 2024
Tobias Foss has a 68t chainring on his Pinarello Bolide time trial bike

© GCN

Tobias Foss has a 68t chainring on his Pinarello Bolide time trial bike

Additional reporting by George Poole

Remco Evenepoel caught the headlines over the weekend when he soared to victory in stage 4’s time trial at the Volta ao Algarve. The Belgian was head-and-shoulders above his opposition in more than one way, as his impressive performance was partly made possible by a monster 62t chainring.

In case you were in any doubt, that is huge, and enough to make the legs of us mere mortals tremble at the thought of it. You could be forgiven for thinking that a 62t ring is as big as it gets.

Think again.

Not content to just match Evenepoel’s set-up, Tobias Foss (Ineos Grenadiers) has blown it away with the 68t chainring we spotted on his time trial bike ahead of the UAE Tour.

You read that right: a 68t chainring, as confirmed by the team’s mechanics. That’s an extra six teeth on top of the 62t option used by the current world champion, Evenepoel.

We've seen chainring sizes trending up in recent years but that has generally topped out at a 64t, and even then it's only been used on rare occasions. Foss' 68t is a sizeable increase on this and is the largest chainring we've seen used at a race.

So, why has Foss gone so high?

Unlike stage 4 of the Volta ao Algarve, where riders tackled a few lumps in the road, stage 2’s individual time trial at the UAE Tour is pan flat with only a few bends. At only 12km, it’s also short. That provides all the ingredients for a fast time trial and, if previous years are anything to go by, riders will reach higher speeds than they usually do at other races. When Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) won the time trial in 2021 on a similar course, he averaged over 55kph.

“I think you will probably see it become more common across other teams as well," Ineos Grenadiers sports director Oli Cookson told GCN. "I won’t go into the science behind it, but depending on the course and the rider, it is all about efficiency and being as fast as possible."

Foss is now teammates with Ganna, having made the switch from Jumbo-Visma (now Visma-Lease a Bike) to the British outfit over the winter. That also means a switch from the Cervélo P5 to the Pinarello Bolide for time trialling, which he’ll debut at the race.

While he’ll start as one of the favourites, the Norwegian rider will face stiff competition in the UAE time trial. To take victory, he will need to improve on his form from last season, in which he failed to pick up a single individual time trial victory all year. A team time trial victory at Paris-Nice ensured some success, but Foss wasn’t allowed to ride in the rainbow jersey, meaning he didn’t pick up a win in the colours of the world champion.

For all the important information about the 2024 UAE Tour, be sure to check out our dedicated race hub for our full preview, the race startlist and much more.

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