Rings and rubber: Cobbles tech gallery from E3 BinckBank

With cobbles and climbs punctuating the Friday classic, riders and mechanics fine-tune their gear. Ben Delaney of Roll Massif takes a close look before the start in Harelbeke.

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With the spring classics in full swing, the kings of the kasseien are competing with big tires, big rings, and big cassettes.

At the E3 BinckBank Classic in Harelbeke, Belgium, many team leaders like Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), Davide Ballerini (Astana) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) lined up with 54-tooth big rings paired to 11-28t and even 11-30t cassettes. On the other end of the spectrum were SRAM’s sponsored riders: Trek-Segafredo’s Jasper Stuyven rode a 48t big ring and Katusha’s Willem Jakobus Smit turned a 50t, thanks to the 12-speed wireless group’s 1ot small cog.

Harelbeke’s 204km course features 15 hills, including a few found in the Tour of Flanders like the Taaienberg (650m, 10% average, max 19%), the Paterberg (400m, average 13%, max 20%) and Oude Kwaremont (2.2km, 4% average, max 12%).

With 9 cobble sectors — including four of the 15 hellingen — on tap at Harelbeke, racers chose a mix of 25-28mm tires. Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale) ran a 26mm front and 28mm rear.

Astana raced on Wolfpack Tires, the boutique brand founded by rubber wiz Wolfgang Arenz, who helped develop compounds for Continental, Specialized, and Schwalbe.

One new piece of tire tech: a prototype digital pressure deflator gauge used by EF Education First. Instead of measuring while inflating with a pump or compressor, which is fairly standard, this piece paired a digital gauge to a manual dial for deflating.

Scroll through the gallery for a detailed look at the bikes of the 2019 E3 BinckBank Classic.