Team Sky give their riders a super low 34x32 option
Mechanics from every team in action at Tirreno-Adriatico spent Saturday night getting their riders' bikes ready for Sunday's fifth stage and the much feared Muro (Wall) di Guardiagrele finish.
The climb to the village that hosts the finish of the stage is only 610 metres long but kicks up at an average of 22%, with the inside line on one corner touching 30%. It is almost certain to be the steepest climb the riders will face all season.
The road climbs through the olive groves on the side of the hill, with even staff from RCS Sport who designed he route, describing the climb as 'scary'.
Mechanics fitted compact crank sets to team bikes and some tweaked the working of the derailleur arm so it can handle up to a 32 tooth sprocket.
One mechanic, who Cyclingnews will protect for his own safety in the peloton, said that if riders cannot get up the climb with a 36x28 gear then they should not be professional athletes.
Some teams and their different component suppliers are trying to give their riders an even lower gear in case of problems on the Muro. No one will be surprised if some riders, especially at the back of the front group, are forced to walk up the climb.
Team Sky mechanic Gary Blem admitted to Cyclingnews that he was worried that one of his riders could have a problem and so the British team has opted for a super low gear.
"We'll be using a compact 34 with a 32 cassette tooth sprocket on the rear. Not all the guys will perhaps use the 32 but the high-cadence guys like Richie Porte probably will," he explained.
"The challenge with that is the clearance of the pulley wheel of the rear derailleur and the 32 sprocket. Shimano doesn't have an 11-speed long-cage derailleur, so we've had to modify the derailleur ourselves to make it work."
"It's a challenge for us because we've never tried it in race conditions yet. We're under pressure to make sure it works because we're going into mountain bike gearing."
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