This article first appeared on BikeRadar.
The ninth stage of an intense opening first part of the Tour de France included 15 sectors and over 22 kilometres of the northern French cobbles, with the stage weaving its way from Arras Citadelle to a stone's throw from the famous Roubaix velodrome.
While the pavé is expected and welcomed during the one-day Classics in the spring, asking mountain and GC specialists who weigh 60 kilograms to battle the infamous cobbles is another question altogether.
BMC Racing's overall GC hopeful Richie Porte crashed out with a suspected broken collarbone before the race had hit the first sectors – the crash a likely result of the nerves and tension within the peloton.
Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac) suffered time losses for multiple mechanicals and a crash, respectively.
Romain Bardet rode the stage aboard a CHPT3 edition Factor O2 but the Frenchman's day was littered with mechanicals
Ahead of the stage start, a mechanic for EF-Drapac told BikeRadar that the team had 'gone full-Roubaix' for the stage, with the American-registered squad riding its endurance-focused Cannondale Synapse framesets, which are more compliant than its other race-focused SuperSix or SystemSix framesets, along with 30mm-wide Vittoria Corsa Control tyres and double-wrapped handlebar tape all-round for the team.
Double-wrapped handlebar tape was a common feature with riders on the start line of the stage, with some riders also opting to tape their wrists and fingers in an attempt to reduce the vibrations from the ancient roads.
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) has ridden the majority of the opening stages of the race aboard a custom-painted Merida Reacto but for stage 9 opted for the lighter and less aerodynamic Merida Scultura.
After using a Merida Reacto for the majority of the race so far, Nibali switched to a Merida Scultura for stage 9
Nibali's Scultura was set up almost identically to how the multiple Grand Tour winner had the bike set up for the Tour of Flanders earlier in the year, and interestingly used a mechanical Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 groupset.
The majority of the peloton stuck with electronic groupsets for the stage, but by using a mechanical groupset Nibali reduced the risk of accidental gear changing over the rough cobbles.
While EF-Drapac opted for 30mm tyres, the majority of the peloton ran 28mm tyres, and almost every team switched to more robust versions of the tyre brands they normally use for racing.
Click or swipe through the extensive gallery above for a closer look at the tech on display for stage nine of the 2018 Tour de France.
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