January is an oddly frenetic month in the world of professional cycling. Pro riders the world over (well, those that aren’t at the Tour Down Under) typically descend on the sunny roads of Spain for their respective winter training camps to tune up the legs, and perhaps more importantly to dial in their bike setups for the new season. Many teams will be on new bikes, some teams will have fresh groupsets, but even teams like Soudal-Quickstep, whose sponsorships are unchanged, still spend time wringing out every last watt from their setup.
Cyclingnews’ Head of News, Stephen Farrand, caught up with Soudal Quick-Step’s Technical and Development Manager, Nicolas Coosemans, as well as Specialized’s Gian Paolo Mondini to discuss bike setups for the coming year.
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Straight levers for all, straight away
Given the recent UCI rules banning the extreme turned-in lever position that we saw many riders including Remco Evenepoel, using last season, the first thing we noted was that the bikes are all already set with far straighter levers.
“We swapped everybody, or more or less everybody, to the new position, [because of] the new rule in December, so they get used to [it], because from today on the rule will be gone. So it’s for everybody. We preferred to do it then so they could get used to it”, said Coosemans.
Given that the new rule was met with considerable disdain from some riders, with Lotto Dstny’s breakaway specialist Victor Campanaerts labelling it “bullshit”, we asked if the riders were happy to make the switch to straighter levers immediately in training, despite many of them not racing (and therefore subject to the UCI rulebook) for some weeks or months yet.
“It went actually smoother than we were thinking,” Coosemans said. “They’re not going to be happy, but at the end, we explained and safety is also important, and we think it will help.”
The safety aspect that Coosemans touches on relates to the points raised by Adam Hansen and the CPA, who are in favour of the ban on the grounds that it causes unnecessary stresses on bars, potentially leading to cracks and accidents in the peloton.