They say fortune favors the bold. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) has opted for a bold move in 2019 when it comes to his bike setup.
If you follow the Danish pro rider on Instagram or were carefully combing through race photos from Volta ao Algarve or Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, you probably saw that he chose to run a single-chainring drivetrain on his Trek team bike. Bold indeed.
You read that right. Pedersen chose to ride a 1X SRAM eTap AXS drivetrain on his Trek Madone. This is one of the first times such a high-profile racer has opted to ditch the front derailleur for mass-start road races. Last season, Pro Continental team Aqua Blue Sport rode single-chainring bikes because sponsor 3T’s Strada bikes were not designed to accommodate front derailleurs. Later that year, 3T introduced the Strada Due frame, which is front derailleur-compatible, in part to support its team.
Pedersen’s case is a bit different. First of all, he chose a single-chainring drivetrain when his sponsors could easily provide a double-chainring setup. Second, he is a contender, especially in the classics. He finished second at the 2018 Tour of Flanders and fifth at Dwars door Vlaanderen last year. So choosing a 1X drivetrain to toe the line at the 2019 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was certainly no small decision. While he finished in 105th at Omloop, it was likely a good test for other upcoming one-day races on Belgian cobbles.
Prior to the February release of SRAM’s new eTap AXS drivetrain, Pedersen’s setup wouldn’t be as doable. With this drivetrain on his Madone, the all-new cassette gearing reduces large jumps between cogs. In many cases, shifting from one gear to another involves just a one-tooth jump on the 12-speed cassette.
And the 10-tooth cog allows riders to get a bigger high gear without using a massive chainring. He said he is riding a 10-33T cassette. He’ll use one of three chainring options to accommodate different race terrain: 48-, 50-, and 52-tooth.
The tradeoff is an increase in friction, due to the chain articulating more around the smaller 10-tooth cog, but for many riders, the friction differences may not outweigh the convenience and simplicity of a 1X drivetrain or the smaller jumps between cogs. The eTap AXS rear derailleur also features a clutch mechanism for chain security on those rough Belgian roads.
Pedersen is a strong time trialist, having won individual tests in Tour of Denmark and Tour du Poitou-Charentes, so it’s not too surprising for the Dane to push a big gear. Aside from that, the ability to access a wide range of gears without having to contend with front derailleur shifts over bone-shaking cobbles could be a boon for a guy more focused on power than shifting logistics. It’s one less mechanical device to operate — or worry about.
Still, 1X hasn’t yet come into its own in the road cycling world. So far this season, only a few WorldTour pros chose to forgo a front derailleur. (Another Trek rider, Bauke Mollema, was spotted with a 1X bike at the UAE Tour.) All the more reason why Pedersen’s decision to race with just one chainring is notable for a guy that could very well contend for a podium at the spring classics.
Could this be 1X’s leap into the mainstream? If Pedersen reaches the podium at any of the spring classics, you can bet the debate will rage a little bit hotter. However, in response to the many comments on his Instagram post, even he admitted he might opt for a double-chainring drivetrain in some races.