The Santos Tour Down Under kicks off the pro racing season, and it’s our first opportunity to catch a glimpse of new tech. Rob Arnold is on the ground for VeloNews and has spotted some unique setups on Trek-Segafredo drivetrains. Over at the Bahrain-Mclaren service course, it’s all about disc brakes — and cooling them down to optimize performance. And of course, Team Movistar has a lot to show off, as the Spanish team has changed from Campagnolo components to SRAM, capping off a 37-year relationship with Campy.

MOV-01_IMG_7042
“The team is highly professional and super well-organized,” says Jason Phillips, SRAM’s road sports marketing director, about Movistar, the Spanish team that has used Campagnolo components for 37 years but, in 2020, has made the switch to the US brand. “A lot of their staff have been in the team for decades. The team is almost 40 years old and it’s still the same guy who started it running the team now.” Photo: Rob Arnold
MOV-02_DSC08912
The other SRAM-sponsored WorldTour team, Trek-Segafredo, uses its in-house wheel brand, Bontrager, but Movistar will be racing on a range of Zipp wheels as part of the switch to the SRAM family. “They’ve got the whole range of Zipp wheels: 202, 303, 454, 858 and Super-9 disc wheels, that’s been very interesting,” said Phillips, who then explained that the supply of wheels was a far greater logistical undertaking than the AXS groupsets. “Wheels are actually more difficult to deliver because all our wheels have a range of processes before they end up on the bike. “The wheels are produced in Indianapolis, we hand-build all the wheels – either in ‘Indy’ or in our Zipp facility in Portugal. So, getting a 45-rider team – which Movistar is with its men’s and women’s programs – set up for wheels for the whole season is the biggest part of a new team sponsorship. “And the mechanics have got to glue the tyres and add the rotors… so it’s a pretty huge undertaking. Wheels is a big thing.”
MOV-03_DSC08914
“It wasn’t a super-early decision that we were going to supply Movistar, actually. But we had pre-emptive orders in the system because we knew that we would take a second WorldTour team. “With our DUB bottom bracket system, for example, it’s not as though you have to worry about different cranks or anything like that. That means it’s pretty easy to make the order, have it in the system, and be ready, make some small adjustments… and then deliver. “We’ve got a pretty fast lead-time of about four weeks, so we have a big advantage.” Photo: Rob Arnold
MOV-04_DSC08922
Phillips has liaised with pro teams for years and he admits that one benefit of the new partnership with Movistar is that SRAM understands the products of another key supplier, Canyon bikes. “It’s essentially the Katusha 2019 package that these guys are running,” Phillips told VeloNews before the 2020 Tour Down Under. “It’s already a proven bike. We know the Canyon bikes really well and that made the transition really easy. “It wasn’t a super-early decision that we were going to supply Movistar, actually. But we had pre-emptive orders in the system because we knew that we would take a second WorldTour team. “With our DUB bottom bracket system, for example, it’s not as though you have to worry about different cranks or anything like that. That means it’s pretty easy to make the order, have it in the system, and be ready, make some small adjustments… and then deliver. “We’ve got a pretty fast lead-time of about four weeks, so we have a big advantage.” Photo: Rob Arnold
MOV-05_DSC08925
The SRAM Red AXS system includes integrated power meters. Photo: Rob Arnold
MOV-06_DSC08942
There are a range of thru-axle and rotor options in use by WorldTour teams in 2020; many mechanics are opting to use a hex-key fastening (which, for wheel changes during the race, is managed with a power drill and 6mm bit) but the Movistar/Canyon/Zipp partnership has a more traditional quick-release lever. Photo: Rob Arnold
MOV-06_DSC08966
The FlatTop chain used with the AXS ensemble is narrow, providing smooth shifting with the 12-speed set-up launched by SRAM in 2019. Photo: Rob Arnold
MOV-07_DSC08968
As is the case for many teams in 2020, the aim is for Movistar to exclusively use disc brakes on its road bikes for the entire season. This, according to Phillips, will be a big advantage for the team’s mechanics. “As we don’t have any [gear] cables through the frames, or batteries inside the frames, you save a lot of time with the build. But I think that our build process is really simple. “I’d say that, if you have a calliper brake bike versus a hydro bike, the build would probably minimally quicker, but the maintenance on a disc brake bike is way, way, way easier. “These guys shouldn’t have to bleed these brakes for the whole season. “On a rim brake bike, you’ve got to change cables. You’re changing brake pads way more often. “So, in the end, I think the time spent servicing a bike over the span of a season is way less.” Photo: Rob Arnold
TBM-01_DSC09017
Bahrain-Mclaren riders will ride astride Merida Bikes with Shimano Dura-Ace components. Photo: Rob Arnold
TBM-03_DSC09060
Bahrain-Mclaren bikes have an interesting disc brake feature. “It’s a special cooling system that we have on the Scultura and the Reactos,” explained Alan Dumic, a Croatian mechanic from the Bahrain-McLaren team. These aluminium fins are actually designed to interrupt the airflow; the faster the bike goes – so the theory is – the cooler the disc will get because of the rush of air over the rotor. Photo: Rob Arnold
TBM-02_DSC09056
These aluminium fins are actually designed to interrupt the airflow; the faster the bike goes – so the theory is – the cooler the disc will get because of the rush of air over the rotor. “On the Scultura, we have it on the rear disc brake. And on the Reacto, on the front brake,” continued Dumic. “It’s designed to make the brakes a bit better, it makes them cool down faster. “It gathers the air and steers it inside the disc – and the aim is to cool it down.” Photo: Rob Arnold
TFS-03_IMG_6902
Most team mechanics travel to the Tour Down Under with a fitting rig from BikeSettings.com that allows them to ensure each riders’ measurements are accurately applied to each bike. Photo: Rob Arnold
Bike Fitting
A precision touch ensures each rider knows what to expect when he throws a leg on his bike, even if it’s a backup bike. Photo: Rob Arnold
Bike Fitting Tools
This jig helps mechanics get the right measurements, repeatedly and consistently. Photo: Rob Arnold
Bike Fitting Tools
The jig also ensures mechanics can easily set riders’ bikes within the UCI measurement regulations. Photo: Rob Arnold
TFS-03_IMG_6901
The road race world champion, Mads Pedersen, has a custom-coloured Trek Madone… for obvious reasons. Photo: Rob Arnold
TFS-02_IMG_6893
Unlike Movistar, which is using SRAM groupsets for the first time this season, the Trek-Segafredo team – which made the switch from Shimano to SRAM at the start of 2019 – will have an option of using larger chainrings in 2020. This is a team initiative, as SRAM’s road cycling marketing manager, Jason Phillips, explains: “Trek-Segafredo approached us and asked if we could supply chainrings in, let’s say, a ‘more traditional’ size. We were happy to oblige and riders can now select a 54/41 front combination.” Photo: Rob Arnold
TFS-01_IMG_6891
This ratio option not currently available for public purchases, or even the Movistar team. One of the key features of the AXS groupset, launched in February last year, is that it boasts a 12-speed cassette with a 10-tooth smallest cog. The 10 remains on the Trek-Segafredo bikes that have been fitted with the 54/41 front option – including Richie Porte’s Emonda frame and Mads Pedersen’s custom-coloured Madone. “It translates, roughly, to around the same roll-out as a 57-11,” said SRAM’s team liaison officer, former pro cyclist, Thorsten Wilhelm. Photo: Rob Arnold
TFS-06_IMG_6915
“All. Or nothing.” So goes the saying, according to world champion, Mads Pedersen. Photo: Rob Arnold
TFS-07_IMG_6890
The short and the tall… light and comfortable. Emonda for Richie Porte. Madone for Mads Pedersen. Photo: Rob Arnold