Tour Down Under Tech: Tubeless tires, hidden sensors, rim brakes

UAE-Team Emirates is running tubeless tires; Romain Bardet is running rim brakes; and Adam Hansen is tinkering, as always. Here's cool tech from Tour Down Under.

Bennett shoes
George Bennett’s customized Shimano shoes.

We continue our look at some of the tech that’s on display in the opening round of the WorldTour of 2020. Much of the discussion in the pits relates to a bigger push for the professionals to use disc brakes – by both bike brands and all three groupset suppliers.

Of course, the brand representatives are saying how great the switch will be for all involved, but it’s difficult to be convinced that everyone is in favor of the move to a disc-only arrangement in 2020.


During the opening stage on Tuesday, the defending Tour Down Under champion, Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), was ready to set his original race bike aside and request a replacement Scott. This transaction took place after he secured first-place points (and the associated time bonus) of an intermediate sprint after 15km — and he finished the stage on last year’s Scott Foil. Why? No formal response was given but there was a suggestion from someone in the team that even the smallest hint of sound emanating from the rotor is enough to prompt riders to panic a little. And, if it’s possible, they aren’t shy about asking for an alternative bike.

Interestingly, VeloNews overheard one of the commissaires utter a reference to a sequence of bike swaps during stage one. “There were about five riders with a number-one at the end of their race number who swapped bikes,” said the UCI official.

His reference to the ‘dossard’ relates to the fact that each of these bike changes were by the designated leaders of the riders’ respective teams.
When asked to name all five teams, he politely declined stating that he was reminded prior to the race that UCI commissaires are not meant to talk with the media.

There was also a line from a SRAM marketing manager who suggested that disc brakes, combined with eTap wireless shifting, should result in less time invested on maintaining bikes. Some riders, who asked not to be named, scoffed at that suggestion, laughing about the number of times they had to get their hydro systems serviced in 2019.