SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO, Italy (VN) — What is 300 grams?
Fifty pencils. Two oranges. Ten slices of bread.
At least that’s according to the website www.measuringstuff.com (yes, there is such a thing).
It’s also the difference between racing on rim brakes or riding with disc brakes.
And that’s according to Tadej Pogačar, who knows a lot about measuring stuff on bikes.
So it’s easy to imagine the 23-year-old Slovenian waking up Saturday morning to race twice up the Monte Carpegna in what can only be described as the middle of Italian nowhere, and deciding he didn’t want to race twice up a mountain with his jersey stuffed with two oranges, 50 pencils or 10 slices of bread.
Of course he’d choose not to.
And that’s why he decided to race with rim brakes for the decisive climbing stage at Tirreno-Adriatico on Saturday.
Some clever GCN+ reporters picked up on Pogačar’s decision to race on rim brakes, and put it to the man.
“So you have to ask more questions,” Pogačar said with a wink.
The two-time Tour de France champion then explained the reason.
“It was a personal choice,” he said. “The rim brake is lighter. It’s important on such a climb like today. Three-hundred grams for me is a lot, so that’s why.”
Teams hire an army of coaches, technicians, mechanics, and support staff to figure this stuff out. Less weight means a faster climbing rate. Even at 10 slices of bread.
Do the numbers, and it’s better not to have two oranges stuffed into the back of your jersey on the HC climb where Marco Pantani used to train on.
Of course, UAE Emirates also probably knew that the climb was up, over and down very rough tarmac. This was no smooth-as-ice, manicured autobahn. This was in the middle of Italian nowhere, and the roads out there are rough.
And after an unseasonable cold late winter, crews recently had been up and down the road to clear the snow, dump on gravel for traction, and otherwise rip up the road surfaces until the summertime crews can come in and repair the potholes.
So it’s very likely someone inside the UAE bus said if the overall title is on the line, any unexpected wheel change would be a lot faster with rim brakes.
Nearly the entire peloton rides disc brakes now. And Pogačar is part of a generation of racers that have grown up on them.
So to decide to race without disc brakes is more challenging for him than say Vincenzo Nibali or Philippe Gilbert to race on with disc brakes.
At the end of the day, the real reason was because Pogačar wanted to.
It’s more and more obvious that Pogačar is the new gravitational center of the peloton. Saturday’s stunning victory only reconfirms that for the — oh, let’s say — 100th time.
The man is a beast on wheels. And if he doesn’t want to race with 50 pencils stuffed into his jersey, it makes perfect sense to us.