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Tour Tech Q&A – Beloki’s tires at fault?

Dear VeloNews crew;It seems as if Joseba Beloki's crash was caused in part by the tubular rolling off the rim. Would he have suffered the same kind of crash if he'd been riding a clincher?Jay Dear Jay;You know that question has come up over the past few days and we’ve even had some folks write in and suggest that tubulars should be banned. We weren’t right there on the spot (though that AFP photographer sure was!), but we have watched the film like everyone else and have to conclude from seeing it over and over again that Beloki’s crash probably would have happened, no matter what sort

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Dear VeloNews crew;
It seems as if Joseba Beloki’s crash was caused in part by the tubular rolling off the rim.

Would he have suffered the same kind of crash if he’d been riding a clincher?Jay

Dear Jay;
You know that question has come up over the past few days and we’ve even had some folks write in and suggest that tubulars should be banned.

We weren’t right there on the spot (though that AFP photographer sure was!), but we have watched the film like everyone else and have to conclude from seeing it over and over again that Beloki’s crash probably would have happened, no matter what sort of tire he was using.

First off, the crash was not triggered by a tire failure, but by oil seeping out of the tarmac because of the heat. When Beloki’s wheel slipped, he hit his brakes, locked his rear wheel up and found himself losing control. The way his rear wheel hit the pavement from the side it is clear that something would have given, no matter what.

Clincher or tubular, his tire would have rolled or been blown or torn off. Had that not happened, the wheel would have folded. In any case, the angle was too great for him to save it anyway, even if the tire and wheel came through unscathed.

Banning tubulars is not necessarily the answer. Sure, glued-on tires present unique hazards – particularly when not properly glued or when excessive braking super-heats the glue. However, anyone who has had an inner tube blow out from the side of a wheel during a high-speed descent knows that clinchers aren’t totally safe either.

What’s the angle?
Dear VeloNews;
I have noticed that a lot of this years tour riders have seemed to have “raised the height” of their shifting/brake levers. In the past, the “rule of thumb” was that the bottom tip of the lever – be in Campy or Shimano – always seemed to be in line with the bottom of the handlebars and on a vertical plane. Now it appears as though they have moved them further up the handlebars and at an angle that seems to point the tip of the hoods towards the rider.

Is there a reason for this?
John CahillDear John;
Definitely, levers have moved up on the bars. I have raised mine since it became popular, as well as tilted the bar up more (rather than the hooks level) as pro riders are now doing. I like it fine and probably would not want to go back, even though I think I, like many others, started originally because it is the fashion, not because I had a complaint with the old setup.

Now, when I go back to a bike with lower levers and a level bar, my hands seem to slide down over the bend down onto the lever, putting more pressure on my thumbs and my wrists.

I have not spoken to pros in the Tour about it, but John Cobb, thepositioning advisor to Armstrong and US Postal, has. He says the reason is really quite simple.

“The riders I have talked with seem to be doing it to keep their wrist morecomfortable and to give themselves a better climbing position,” Cobb said.