Tour of Flanders: Huge race tech gallery

Tubeless tyres, tape, 12-speed and more from De Ronde

All 18 WorldTour teams and six Pro Continental teams were parked up alongside the Scheldt river in Antwerp, Belgium, for the start of the 103rd Tour of Flanders on Sunday.

As you might expect, the traditional cobbled tech of wider tyres and double-wrapped handlebar tape was on display, but there was also plenty of new tech making its debut at the historic race.

Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) – who finished third at the race – was the only rider on the start line to race with a tubeless tyre setup as opposed to the traditional tubular options.

Kristoff used Vittoria Graphene 2.0 tubeless tyres with Campagnolo Bora WTO 60 wheels, and a UAE Team Emirates spokesman explained to Cyclingnews that Kristoff simply has a better feeling with the tubeless setup over tubular tyres.

Kristoff used the same setup on his way to victory at last week's Gent-Wevelgem and Cyclingnews understands from some key stakeholders in the sport that as more manufacturers experiment with the technology, tubeless tyres could become the norm in the WorldTour peloton as opposed to the exception.

More technology seen for the first time at this year's race was the prevalence of 12-speed. Campagnolo launched their 12-speed groupset last year and SRAM followed up with their version earlier this year, and five teams lined up in Antwerp with the new groupsets.

A handful of Trek-Segafredo riders have experimented with a 1X drivetrain option from SRAM's new RED eTap AXS groupset but after a well-reported mechanical to John Degenkolb on the Poggio at Milan-San Remo, it is just Mads Pedersen who has stuck with the setup.

Alongside the new tech, different rider preferences for handlebar tape, tyre widths and tyre pressures were as varied as you might expect. AG2R La Mondiale's Oliver Naesen took this one step further by running a 28mm tyre on the rear and a 26mm tyre on the front of his bike.

Team sponsors, of course, have their say on which equipment they want their sponsored riders to showcase at the biggest races of the year, but sometimes rider preference prevails.

After showcasing the more compliant Cervélo R3 Disc earlier in the week, no Team Sunweb riders opted for the frameset for Flanders, with Soren Kragh Andersen also opting for rim brakes, while the rest of the team used disc-brake-equipped framesets.

Specialized and Trek are two manufacturers whose teams have 100 per cent committed to disc brakes for 2019, and Mathieu van der Poel's Corendon-Circus team also all lined up on disc-brake-equipped Canyon framesets at the race.

Interestingly, while the majority of WorldTour teams are converging towards 160mm rotors at the front and 140mm rotors at the rear, Van der Poel's team appeared to be running 140mm disc rotors front and rear.

Van der Poel's bike was one of a number of custom framesets on display at the race celebrating his Dutch national road race title. National champions historically would wear a custom jersey celebrating their title, but now we see framesets, shoes, helmets, gloves, sunglasses and even computer mounts customised for national, European or world champions.

Click through the gallery above for a closer look at the tech on display at the 103rd edition of the Tour of Flanders.

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