Tour de France does Paris-Roubaix: huge tech gallery

Massive tyres, mechanical groupsets and endurance bikes for Grand Tour riders

The ninth stage of an intense opening first part of the Tour de France included 15 sectors and over 22 kilometres of the northern French cobbles, with the stage weaving its way from Arras Citadelle to a stone's throw from the famous Roubaix velodrome.

Expected and welcomed during the one-day Classics in the spring, asking mountain and GC specialists who weigh 60 kilograms to battle the infamous cobbles is another question altogether.

BMC Racing's overall GC hopeful in Richie Porte crashed out with a suspected broken collarbone before the race had hit the first sectors, the crash a likely result of the nerves and tension within the peloton.

Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac) suffered time losses for multiple mechanicals and a crash, respectively.

Romain Bardet rode the stage aboard a CHPT3 edition Factor O2 but the Frenchman's day was littered with mechanicals
Romain Bardet rode the stage aboard a CHPT3 edition Factor O2 but the Frenchman's day was littered with mechanicals

Ahead of the stage start, a mechanic for EF-Drapac said to BikeRadar that the team had 'gone full-Roubaix' for the stage, with the American-registered squad riding its endurance-focused Cannondale Synapse framesets, which are more compliant than its other race-focused SuperSix or SystemSix framesets, alongside 30mm wide Vittoria Corsa Control tyres and double-wrapped handlebar tape all-around for the team.

Double wrapped handlebar tape was a common feature with every rider on the start line of the stage, with some riders also opting to tape their wrists and fingers in an attempt to reduce the vibrations from the ancient roads.

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) has ridden the majority of the opening stages of the race aboard a custom-painted Merida Reacto but for stage 9 opted for the lighter and less aerodynamic Merida Scultura.

After using a Merida Reacto for the majority of the race so far, Nibali switched to a Merida Scultura for stage 9
After using a Merida Reacto for the majority of the race so far, Nibali switched to a Merida Scultura for stage 9

Nibali's Scultura was set up almost identically to how the multiple Grand Tour winner had the bike setup for the Tour of Flanders earlier in the year and interestingly used a mechanical Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 groupset.

The majority of the peloton stuck with electronic groupsets for the stage, but by using a mechanical groupset Nibali reduced the risk of accidental gear changing over the rough cobbles.

While EF-Drapac opted for 30mm tyres, the majority of the peloton ran 28mm tyres and almost every team switched to more robust versions of the tyre brands they normally use for racing.

Team Sky swapped out its usual Pinarello Dogma F10 race bikes for the cobble-specific Dogma K10 models, which feature HiRide rear suspension systems for a more compliant rear end of the bike.

Click or swipe through the extensive gallery above for a closer look at the tech on display for stage nine of the 2018 Tour de France.

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Josh has been a fan of road racing since a youngster, partly due to an obsession with a certain Texan during his earlier years. Josh is now based in Bristol via running a popular cycling cafe in Surrey near where he grew up.
  • Discipline: Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Surrey's short sharp climbs, Belgian cross winds or cobbles.
  • Current Bikes: Bowman Palace.
  • Dream Bike: Custom Argonaut in Abarth grey, Speedvagen Urban Racer, Canyon Speedmax CF SLX
  • Beer of Choice: Anything Belgian
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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