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Disc brakes are still unusual in the pro peloton, and single-chainring drivetrains are unheard of. However, Aqua Blue Sport’s riders will be on bikes with both technologies in 2018. The Ireland-based team has partnered with 3T as its bike sponsor. The new 1x drivetrain-specific Strada model will be outfitted with hydraulic disc brakes along with SRAM’s Force 1 groupset.
“With 3T launching the world’s first dedicated 1x road frame and Aqua Blue Sport choosing it as their team bike for 2018, we knew we wanted to be involved in this project,” Jason Phillips, SRAM’s sponsorship director, said. “It fits with our product innovations, and both 3T and Aqua Blue Sport will be perfect partners to test our 1x drivetrain options to the extreme. In only its first year at the top level, Aqua Blue Sport has already made a name for itself and SRAM is enthusiastic to be a part of their progress in 2018 and beyond.”
The Pro Continental Team had a successful first year with Larry Warbasse taking his first WorldTour win on stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse and then a week later winning the U.S. Pro National Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee. The team also scored its first grand tour invitation, competing in La Vuelta a Espana. Austrian Stefan Denifl won stage 17 of the Vuelta.
“SRAM has been our drivetrain of choice since we launched the Strada earlier this year, and we are super-excited to work with them in supplying bikes to Aqua Blue Sport,” Rene Wiertz, CEO of 3T, said. “With all the developments in the works at 3T and SRAM, we’re sure we’ll be able to give the team a real advantage and fans something to look forward to for the coming years.”
It remains to be seen which cassettes and chainrings the team will ride. Races such as the flat cobbled classics with not be an issue, but the rolling terrain of the Ardennes classics and mountains stages of the grand tours will require a wider range of gears in the back. The wider the range in the back the bigger the ratio between the gears and thus a larger change in cadence.
The team may ride 3T’s forthcoming Bailout and Overdrive cassettes, which each feature 9-tooth little cogs. Paired with a 44-tooth chainring, riders would actually have a harder gear than a conventional 53x11t combination. On the other end of the range, a 44t ring and a 32t cog (the largest on both Bailout and Overdrive cassettes) is roughly the same ratio as a 39x28t gear.