Sandwiched between the cobbled classics of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, the pancake-flat Scheldeprijs often plays host to a strange mix of road bike gear as some riders go for the win and others use the event to test equipment for the upcoming cobbles. This year that schism was exemplified by the presence of hydraulic disc brakes mixed in with 80mm aero wheels.
Pro Continental team Direct Energie rolled up to the start line in Antwerp, Belgium with all but one of their riders on 160mm Shimano hydraulic discs. Days before, Lampre-Merida became the first WorldTour squad to run all discs in a major road event. Pro Continental is the division below the top-tier WorldTour. Pro Continental team Roompot-Oranje Peloton has been using SRAM hydraulic brakes off and on this year as well, starting with 160mm rotors and shifting to 140mm recently.
- Campagnolo vs. Shimano vs. SRAM road disc brakes: early comparison
- Disc brakes: everything you need to know
Direct Energie jumped on the disc bandwagon ahead of Paris-Roubaix
Francaise des Jeux seemed to be getting the cockpits Roubaix-ready, with four riders using the big Shimano Di2 climbing switch that mounts on the handlebar next to the stem. Some riders favor this satellite shifter for the cobbles as it allows you to shift with your hands on the top. It can be configured to shift the front or the rear, but most opt to use it for the rear derailleur.
In terms of tubulars, nearly all riders raced 25mm models. With the stones of Paris-Roubaix looming just days ahead, a few 28mm tires could be found on spare bikes atop team cars. Vittoria is clearly making a big push with its new Corsa tires with graphite, with six teams using those tires, the same number of teams as using the popular Continental.
For wheels, most riders used either 40, 50 or 60mm aero wheels, with some like Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) opting for ultra-tall 81mm hoops. The sprinter Bennett was clearly focused on the win on the race at hand, not Paris-Roubaix, with a massive 55t solid Vision chainring on his Argon 18.
Sam Bennett didn't come to Scheldeprijs to test Paris-Roubaix gear; he came to throw down, with an 81mm rear wheel and a 55t front ring