Chris Froome (Team Sky) changed saddles and his position on the bike before the final decisive mountain stages of the Giro d’Italia after suffering with a serious saddle sore problem that had been affecting his ability to ride at his very best.
The changes were spotted by a reader of the Italian bike tech website cyclingside.it. Three sources confirmed the changes to Cyclingnews but Team Sky did not want to comment.
Riders often switch from sponsor brands if they have problems with saddles, shoes or even handlebars and stems, with teams insisting on the final word when it comes to technical and performance related choices.
Team Sky is sponsored by Fi’zi:k and Froome has used the long and narrow Antares model for the last five years without any major problems, working with the Italian brand to improve his comfort. However, his crash before the Jerusalem time trial exacerbated his saddle and bike position problems.
He eventually switched to a Specialized Power saddle for the final key mountain stages, with team mechanics carefully covering the logos of the non-sponsor brand.
He used the new saddle when he attacked alone on the Colle delle Finestre and rode solo for 80km to win in Bardonecchia and take the leader’s pink jersey. He kept the saddle for the final mountain stage to Cervinia. Froome’s pink bike for the final stage in central Rome was initially fitted with a pink Fi’zi:k Antares saddle but Cyclingnews saw he raced on yet another different Specialized saddle.
The wider Specialized Power saddle apparently gives Froome better sit-bone contact, with a significant pressure-reducing cut away in the middle avoiding contact on his perineum. The Specialized saddle is also shorter, allowing Froome’s position to respect UCI rules in his desired position. Team Sky have also worked with a plastic surgeon who specialises in amputees to develop a special saddle cream, and Froome always pays careful attention to his core body strength.
Team Sky’s physiotherapist and bike fit specialist helped Froome with changing his saddle and correcting his position on the bike after the intense effort of the Trento time trial last Tuesday. Cyclingnews understands that using the different saddle allowed Froome to find his usual position on the bike and so put out more power than earlier in the Giro d’Italia.