Despite decades of carefully adapted cobble-ready bikes taking the stage at Paris-Roubaix, Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) won this year's edition aboard a Pinarello Dogma F - an aero-focussed bike with only its tubeless tyre setup and a second wrap of bar tape distinguishing it from the team’s regular setup.
Van Baarle rode on the Shimano new Dura-Ace 9200 groupset, using tubeless tan wall Continental GP5000 S TR tyres, with many riders crediting the shift to wider tubeless as completely changing the dynamic of the tech and bikes in the race.
Conversely the previous day, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) won the second-ever Paris-Roubaix Femmes while riding an unreleased Trek Domane specifically designed for Roubaix, so our attention was piqued around other specially-adapted tech on show at the men's race on Sunday.
Amongst the men’s bikes, the first to catch our eye was Trek Segafredo's bikes. Just as the women, the men's team are using a yet-to-be-released Trek Domane, with a few minor tweaks compared to the women.
Most notably, the men are also running a 1x groupset, but with a front chainring size of 54-teeth. That represents a fairly hard range of gearing for the team, with the easiest gear combination likely being a 54-36 ratio. However, the single chainring will make for a straighter chainline and less chance of chain drop on the cobbled sectors of the race - further helped by the K-Edge chain guide.
Amongst the innovations that had been much discussed ahead of the race, Team DSM's tyre pressure management system was undoubtedly the most exciting. However, after their recon rides ahead of the weekend's racing, DSM decided they were not yet comfortable enough with the new technology to risk using them at such a prestigious race as Paris-Roubaix, a mechanic at the start explained to Cyclingnews.
Mohorič's no-concession aero Merida
Perhaps most striking was Matej Mohorič's (Bahrain Victorious) Merida Reacto, which offered little or no concessions to the cobbled terrain.
The Reacto is a highly aero-dedicated build and Mohorič sided for a one-piece Vision Metron 5D bar, slammed, and without any bar tape whatsoever on the handlebar tops.
Mohorič's bike was otherwise identical to his normal endurance racer, save for the slightly wider tubeless Continental GP5000 S TR tyres, which we believe to be 32mm in width.
It follows a trend of major teams opting for aero-focussed bikes rather than those adapted for cobbled riding, as wider tubeless tyres have slightly bridged the gap in comfort compared to a decade ago when 28mm was the widest tyres size we would see at the race.
Ineos Grenadiers opted to ride an aero-focussed Pinarello Dogma F across the team this year, with Michal Kwiatowski’s bike mirroring Van Baarle’s racing setup, including the tubeless Continental setup.
Specialized has used the race as an opportunity to showcase new tyres on Quickstep-AlphaVinyl's bikes, using a new tubeless rim and tyre combo that the brand currently simply labels 'Project Black.'
Jumbo-Visma Cervélo bikes
We noticed several bikes sporting older generation componentry. Jumbo-Visma's Cervélo Caledonia bikes appeared to be more or less identical to last year's fleet, including the Shimano Dura-Ace 9170 groupsets.
In a nod to traditionalism, Jumbo sided with Vittoria Corsa tan wall tubular tyres, shunning the en vogue tubeless technology that many of their competitors opted for.
Elsewhere, EF Education-EasyPost had mildly adapted Cannondale SuperSix bikes, and were one of few teams to be riding on the new Shimano Dura-Ace. While some teams expressed concern over mixing Dura-Ace 9100 cranksets with Dura-Ace 9200 groupsets, Cannondale has opted for an FSA SLK crankset.
With Paris-Roubaix ever the unpredictable race, we look forward to more stories still to come around the unique tech used by the riders.
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