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Giro d’Italia Inside Line – Tech News From The Mountains


We’re here for another extra tech news with
Caley Fretz from Velo news. Caley, when we spoke last it was down in Southern Italy, we were on
flat roads talking aerodynamic road bikes and aerodynamic TT bikes. Now here we are
in the mountains, what are the changes that people have made to their bikes for this? Well a
team like Blanco sitting behind us are going to be on a completely different frame, they’re
moving from their aero Propel to their TCR. There are also going to be changes in gearing,
changes in wheels and tyres. It’s basically to move weight away from rotating points and
into elsewhere on the frame. They are going to look for a little more stiffness to hit that 6.8kg
UCI weight limit as close as possible. It’s actually quite hard for a team to get
to the 6.8kg, a lot of bikes tend to be about 7.2, 7.3. How much weight are they saving on
a climbing frame like a TCR to a Propel? The frame itself is probably
going to be a couple of hundred grammes, it depends on the manufacturer how close those
two are going to be. The big thing is ride quality, a lot of the guys are going to go
for the wider, stiffer frames for the mountain stages where the aerodynamics isn’t as important. We spoke last time at length about 25mm tyres
because teams were adopting this for aerodynamic advantages, but now we’re in the mountains,
as we said, aerodynamics aren’t the issue. Do you think teams will be back
on 23s? Yeah, the 25s was a result of Shimano’s recommendation,
their C50 rim is a wide rim, it works quite well aerodynamically with the 25mm tyre, there
is not a lot of aerodynamic downside to running a bigger tyre so they may as well run the bigger
one on the flat stages – slightly lower rolling resistance, more comfort. In the mountains, they’re
looking for low weight, they’re trying to decrease weight particularly at the outer
edge of those wheels and decrease inertia. So they’re going to run 23s, they are a little
bit lighter, they’re running a narrower rim, for example the Blanco guys are going to be
running Shimano C35s or even C24s, which is quite a narrow rim, it matches up better with the
23mm tyre. In terms of weight savings, then, for a 23
over a 25 we’re looking at what? 30, 40 grammes per tyre? Yeah, again it is going to depend
on the tyre, but that’s usually a pretty good guess. A pretty marginal gain there. Very marginal
gain, a lot of this is marginal gains, but they do everything that they can. If you add
up stuff like that over the course of the entire Telegraphe and the entire Galibier, it’s not so marginal
anymore. Can we talk about clothing now, as well? The
riders have been battered with horrific weather and there’s this trend for unmarked Castelli
Gabba jerseys. What do you think the change is there between non-waterproof shells? Yeah, it’s
a visual difference, even from a couple of years ago, when guys would pull
out the rain capes, those old-school rubber, plastic…they were horrible! I’m sure you’ve used them,
I’ve used them, they were terrible, you’re a sweat box inside that thing. But in the last year or so, Castelli
came out with the Gabba, there’s a couple of other manufacturers that have jumped on that
train as well, it’s a Gore product so any manufacturer can make their own version. Vermarc
is making one, and there’s a couple here that say ‘prototype’ on the back – I can’t really tell
if they are just a re-badged Castelli or actually something new. It’s a massive improvement for the riders because
it’s a much more versatile piece of clothing that allows much more breathability, it’s
still going to keep the rain out, it’s much more aerodynamic. Castelli were saying the
difference between a traditional rain cape and their Gabba jersey is something in the
order of like 15% in drag difference between those two items. Something that was occurring to me though:
pro bike racers have been contending with terrible weather for decades and decades, and
the clothing has been getting better and better. But we still see stages cancelled or ammended
due to poor weather, and we still see riders getting to the finish in pieces
because they are so cold. Given the improvements in technology, why are we not
seeing guys able to cope with the weather – have they just got softer? Maybe, don’t say that too
loud right here! No, I think cold is cold. If you look at Hampsten on the Gavia back
in the day – wool clothes, short-fingered gloves and all that stuff. I think that was probably downright
dangerous. I think these guys now, with the stuff they have available to them – much safer.
At the end of the day, though, they are still on road bikes, 23 or 25mm tyres, you can’t
make them ride in the snow too much, they will just crash, regardless of how much clothing
they have available to them. The other thing is that they are not going to wear all of
it, so at the start of the stage on Sunday, right before the rest day, a lot of guys
were bundled up at the start wearing everything they have – their Gabba jersey and their long
tights, big gloves and all that stuff. By half the stage, they’ve ditched all that stuff,
it’s in the car. Then they hit the Galibier and it starts getting really cold up there,
but all of the stuff is back in the car and they can’t get their gear back. Sometimes
having it available to them is irrelevant because they don’t have it on anyway. Rumours that teams
are going to be bringing cyclocross bikes to next year’s Giro aren’t
confirmed, but it seems likely that they may(!) I don’t know what to say to that! Caley, thanks very much for joining us. For
more of Caley’s insights,remember to head over to Velonews.com.

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