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Paris-Roubaix is a tech delight. Ok, not as much as it used to be, but still the one race of the year where we see bikes and equipment that is massively different from the usual set-up. It’s a race that demands something special from the rider and the gear they’re powering along. The Cobbles, clinchers and pavé of northern France are a brute on the bikes.
As I’ve mentioned, the pits outside the Château de Compiègne now don’t throw up as many tech wonders as they used to; even a handful of years back, we saw wheels that had been go-to choices for many years. Box section rims with tied and soldered spokes, shod with what then seemed mammoth 28mm tubular tires. French handmade Dugast or FMB tubulars with a touch of ink from a marker pen on the sidewalls replaced sponsor-correct tires. Doubled-wrapped bar tape or gel under the tape was pretty much standard. Then came along the wild bikes with elastomers or some sort of dampening device; for example, Pinarello’s Dogma FS is a bike that hasn’t made a resurgence since it was launched in 2019. Even Cyclocross bikes were spotted on occasion. But those times seem to be behind us now.
The pits are now a location where a keen tech eye is needed more than ever.
Today’s bikes are more robust, comfortable and all-rounded than even two or three years back. Sure, a few teams opt for more “endurance, all-road” models from their sponsors, but we’re increasingly seeing stock standard bikes roll out from the start. Heck, for instance, Mads Pedersen of Trek-Segafredo rode to a solid fourth place on a Trek Madone, a bike that usually sees action on the days that need a touch of extra speed — but then again, this year’s race was the fastest in history at 46.8 kph, so maybe he knew something we didn’t ahead of the race. The rest of the squad used Trek’s Domane, a bike designed explicitly for roads like the ones tackled on Sunday.
But there are still a few bikes with modifications, larger chainrings, 1x gearing and, of course, tire choice. In 2020, Julian Alaphilippe made headlines by being the first rider ever to a Tour de France stage on clincher tires. In those three years, it would seem that the peloton has firmly adopted this technology. If you want to know what rubber they rolled on and what pressure they filled those tires with, head to this video. But for the rest of the tech treats, stay here, hit that play button and enjoy.