Ask Nick: Evans’ bottle, repair stands and road race warm-ups

Tech editor Nick Legan answers reader questions on antiquated repair stands and running a TT water bottle

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Editor’s Note: VeloNews tech editor Nick Legan is a former ProTour mechanic who most recently wrenched for Team RadioShack at the 2010 Tour de France and elsewhere. His column appears here every Thursday. You can submit questions to Nick at, and be sure to check out Nick’s previous columns.
Watching the prologue of the Tour de France from Liège, I noticed that Cadel Evans had a large water bottle on his BMC time trial bike. Why? I doubt he needed the fluid for a seven-minute ride and why would he incur the weight and/or aerodynamic penalty? —Jon Prestley

I would bet that he didn’t incur an aerodynamic penalty. I would contend just the opposite. Evans has surely been in the wind tunnel and they’ll have tested whether he was faster with a bottle or without. If it was on his bike, he’s faster with it. As long as he starts with some fluid in the bottle, it’s legal to use it. Otherwise, the UCI can call it an aerodynamic aid.

You’ve written about the homemade repair stands that pro mechanics use to wash and set up bikes. These stands support the frame at the bottom bracket shell and clamp either the fork tips or the rear dropouts, depending on which end of the bike is being worked on. You’ve mentioned that you have a Tacx Cycle Spider Stand that you like and you’ve reviewed the Feedback Sports Sprint Stand.

Trek’s new Madone 7 aero road bike looks really cool. With the rear brake mounted under the bottom bracket, how are pro mechanics modifying their stands? —Laurie Schmidtke

Mechanics probably aren’t doing a thing to modify their workstands. Many of us have worked on plenty of bikes with the brakes mounted under the chainstays. When I worked with Radioshack we used Park’s fork-mount stand all the time and the Speed Concepts have the rear brake situated under the chainstays.

Once a brake is set up, there is usually very little adjustment necessary. So other than a bolt check, it’s not a big deal. Stands like the Park, Tacx and Feedback Sports all put the bike on its bottom bracket shell. The brake sits behind that. So everything still functions while mounted in the stand.

Di2 batteries can also cause some interference, but it’s minimal and can be worked around. You raise a great point, but for now my precious Tacx stand is safe! No need to replace it yet.

We have all seen and heard the benefits of warm-up prior to the time trial at a pro race. What warm-up do they do prior to a regular road stage, and does this change as a three-week tour progresses? —Eric W

It’s pretty rare for professionals to warm up for a road race. The races are long enough that the racing starts fairly mellow. Sure, some guys will attack in the opening kilometers, but with the amount of caffeine most bike racers consume, they’re raring to go from the gun. No need to spin the legs before that.

A criterium or a time trial is a different matter. Those are efforts that are intense from the start. Unless a road race starts with a huge climb, you won’t see many riders rolling around for a warm-up. If they are cruising around, it’s to chat up girls in the Village Départ.

That said, both Garmin-Sharp and Sky riders often cool down on a trainer after a race. It’s meant to help with recovery.

I have a SRAM Apex 10-speed, 11-28t cassette that wobbles ever so slightly with no obvious hindrance with the chain or shifting. I noticed when I was cleaning my bike and chain and wondered if this is okay? The plastic thing protecting the spokes is the only thing that’s getting caught up, but not while I’m riding. —Katie

That little bit of wobble is normal. That’s actually your freehub body that’s doing it. But nothing to worry about. Do make sure that everything is properly adjusted: check to be sure your your hub isn’t loose and your cassette lockring is tight.

In your case, I would recommend pulling the cassette off, remove your spoke protector (something you should do if it’s getting caught up). While the cassette is off, spin your freehub body. Make sure it’s working smoothly and there’s no play in it. Then reinstall your cassette and ride off into the sunset. Happy trails!

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.