Markel Irizar made history on stage 6 of the Vuelta a España by riding a bike equipped with hydraulic disc brakes. While disc brakes debuted in the professional peloton at the Eneco Tour earlier this month, Trek Factory Racing's Irizar is the first rider to do so in a grand tour.
Irizar finished the stage in 141st place as he is riding the Vuelta in support of the team's GC rider, Fränk Schleck, which also allowed the 35-year-old to take in the sensations of the new braking method.
"Of course it's a little more heavier and to change the wheel [in case of a puncture] is a little more difficult, but I think that this is the future," said Irizar of the Trek Domane disc model he rode for the stage.
A point of opposition to professional road cycling taking up disc brakes has been rider safety, principally involving high speed mass pile ups, which Irizar expanded upon.
"Many riders have been concerned about safety, like when it is really hot and if you crash it can cause damage by cutting someone or even burning," he said. "So I think for the future Shimano may have to look at covering the disc, and once we are 100 percent sure that nothing can happen, then I think everyone will use it because for sure in the rain the [braking] difference is going to be huge.
The difference in braking between disc and rim brakes on a 200.3km test was enough to convince Irizar that disc belong in the peloton and with "some small changes that this will be the future."
"Today in the heat already the difference was already really big. I think it's the same when the electronic shifting came, it had a negative reaction at first, and now everybody loves it. I think that in a couple of years for sure everyone will love it. This is the first step, of course, there are some things we can improve, but this was Shimano's goal, to have it tested in races to have the information," he said.
Irizar will be back on the disc Domane on the 182.5km stage 8 of the Vuelta from Puebla de Don Fabrique to Murcia.
Teams are allowed to test disc brakes at two events of their choosing over August and September with testing to continue in 2016. The UCI have confirmed "if the experience is satisfactory, disc brakes will be officially introduced to the UCI WorldTour in 2017. The aim is to eventually introduce disc brakes to all levels of road cycling."