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Mavic drops in new neutral service bikes for Tour de France

The indelible image of Chris Froome running up Mont Ventoux at the 2016 Tour de France has inspired changes for the 2017 race. Mavic’s fleet of neutral support bikes will feature specially designed KS dropper posts. This will enable riders to adjust saddle height when riding the unmistakable yellow Canyon Ultimate CF SL bikes. That’s the biggest change, but not the only one.

The dropper

“When I was looking for a dropper post, this was the first one I saw that had the lever beneath the saddle,” says Chad Moore, Mavic’s global brand manager. “They [KS] made us some custom posts to work on the road. And they made it so the post has a bit more range of height.”

The 27.2-millimeter dropper posts will allow riders to adjust the saddle height on the fly. The posts are based off the KS Lev Integra 272 platform and have 65 millimeters of travel. This should avoid the gangly, knees-out pedal stroke Froome endured on Ventoux.

“Most neutral support services haven’t used a support bike in god knows how long,” says Moore, but Mavic intends to be prepared in case it happens again. Once the rider is on the neutral support bike, the support car will pull up alongside the rider to ensure he understands how to adjust the seatpost properly.

Chris Froome
Chris Froome rode a Mavic neutral service bike after the inopportune crash on Mont Ventoux. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Other important changes

The neutral support cars will be stocked with six bikes on the roof. Previously, the cars carried three. Instead of eight wheels in the car, Mavic neutral support cars will now carry six.

Of those six bikes, three will be set up in advance for the top-three GC riders on any given stage. Should one of those riders need a neutral support bike, it will be ready to go with that rider’s measurements pre-set.

“The idea is to have a variety of sizes with a dropper, and pedals that are the most popular in the peloton,” says Moore. “One bike will have Look pedals, another will have Shimano, and a third will have Speedplay. If a rider needs something else, they’ll take one of the other three bikes. At the end of the day it’s tricky because you want the neutral support to be truly neutral, so to combine that with the top guys in the GC, while not alienating the other guys, it’s a tricky situation to figure out.”

The wheels that each neutral support car carries won’t change much. They will carry a combination of Mavic Cosmic Ultimate, Cosmic Pro Carbon SL, and on certain stages, Comete Pro Carbon SL wheels. It’s unclear if it will be necessary to have disc brake wheels at the ready for the Tour. Mavic says it’s ready for that situation regardless. The neutral support cars will carry wheels with the UCI-standard 160-millimeter rotors. If a rider has a 140-millimeter rotor, neutral support won’t be able to help, but the teams already know that.

Adding disc wheels to the mix is no small feat. It requires more than just a pile of new wheels. Each car’s bike and wheel racks require new fittings to accommodate thru-axle wheels. The same goes for neutral support motorcycles. Replenishing those wheels, should a moto or car run out, will work in much the same way it did before: Cars re-stock motos, or vice versa based on need. Then, a support van on course can replenish either the car or moto if necessary.

Listen to our discussion of new Tour tech on the VeloNews podcast:

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