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Two of the pro peloton’s biggest teams will be crossing fingers for no component kerfuffles when race season begins.
Riders like Wout van Aert, Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard face radically different gear shifting and brake feel this year.
The significant differences between the gear paddle systems of SRAM and Shimano could cause Van Aert some consternation when he lines up for the cyclocross Herentals race Tuesday.
“It takes some getting used to. Normally I ride on automatics,” Van Aert told Sporza of his newly SRAM-clad Cervélo.
“It could certainly happen that I shift wrong in Herentals,” Van Aert said of his “home” cyclocross race Tuesday. “But I should soon get used to that new shifting system.”
Jumbo-Visma sees a full overhaul of its component and equipment suppliers this season.
SRAM groupsets, Reserve wheels, Speedplay pedals, and Nimbl shoes all become a part of the team’s uniform as it pursues the “continual development” that last year saw it win its first Tour de France and top the UCI rankings.
Team mechanics stripped and reconfigured some 180 bikes through the winter in preparation for the official January 1 sponsor swap, and Van Aert et al training on their reconfigured machines through the off-season.
However, early-season ‘crosses and the WorldTour-opening Tour Down Under later this month will see the team’s new setups and bike feel put through the racing ringer for the first time.
“On the road bikes, riders will also have to get used to new shoes and pedals. These are very different from last year’s and offer a big advantage in aerodynamics and weight,” Jumbo-Visma head of performance Mathieu Heijboer said.
“During the last training camp in December, we completely switched to the new parts. We have also explored Paris-Roubaix with the new bikes and we have noticed that we are making a lot of gains in various areas. The riders have been delighted with the new bikes.”
The Dutch team has been active in bedding in the new system as much as possible ahead of time. Long hours during training camps, a recon of the Paris-Roubaix cobbles and endless bike-fit fettling will send Van Aert, Vingegaard, Primož Roglič and more into the 2023 season.
Likewise, team mechanics face the unenviable task of relearning cabling and electronic systems – and how to fix them in a frantic roadside assist at the world’s biggest races.
“Apart from Wout van Aert and Marianne Vos, the majority of Jumbo-Visma athletes don’t yet have any experience with SRAM,” Heijboer said. “That holds true for the mechanics as well. As a result, the changeover will receive a lot of attention.”
Don’t be surprised to see the occasional mis-shifted gear or botched cleat-clip this month.