Ineos Grenadiers’ Performance Engineer Dan Bigham has explained why his mechanics have duct taped the race transponder to the rear of the forks on their Pinarello Dogma F race bikes.
Earlier this week, Cyclingnews spotted the transponder’s unusual position on the bike of Egan Bernal, speculating that it was likely the latest finding in the team’s pursuit of marginal gains.
The 2cm square plastic timing chip is usually found on the outer face of the fork leg, often held in place with a zip tie, tape, or an offcut of a latex inner tube to smooth the airflow. But in this case, it was found duct taped to the rear of the fork’s dropout, inside the small aero dropout fairing that Pinarello calls the Fork Flap.
Speaking exclusively to Cyclingnews’ Alasdair Fotheringham at the start of the stage 10 time trial, Bigham confirmed our assumptions before revealing the details behind the hack.
“It does come down to aerodynamics, but also it’s just a nice clean place to put it,” he began.
“You can place it anywhere on the fork, and obviously that’s part of the fork section,. So rather than sticking it out in the wind where the frontal area is increased, we just put it behind the fork ever so slightly.
“It’s incredibly marginal when it comes down to it. If you measure a transponder, it’s probably 8mm wide by 20mm tall. You have a very small marginal area, but the coefficient of a transponder is pretty terrible, it’s just a block. Normally you just put it on, and most teams do that with a bit of latex or tape, but we just put it behind the fork.”
Ineos Grenadiers, in its original guise as Team Sky, coined the term ‘marginal gains’ with the philosophy that by paying attention to each of the small details, it would add up to make a big difference to performance. The latest gain is certainly small, as Bigham revealed the expected wattage saving from the hack.
“We’re talking points of a watt here, not even a [full] watt of saving in the grand scheme of things,” he said.
The hack was also applied to Filippo Ganna’s time trial bike for stage 10. This was still done using duct tape, but with a slightly cleaner finish and impressively, mechanics went the extra mile to colour-match the tape to Ganna’s white frame.