Strade Bianche Technology: Building the Perfect Bike for “White Roads”

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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — It’s been a busy 48 hours for Zoran Pohrebny, one of three mechanics working on prepping the Strade Bianche front bikes at Israel-Premier Tech.

Strade Bianche and its unique racing challenges on the gravel roads of Tuscany provide one of the busiest and toughest times of the year for the hard-working mechanic crews in all the teams lining up on Saturday in Siena.

“This race is very special,” Pohrebny said. BikeNews. “We have to prepare the bikes especially for these kinds of gravel conditions. We have to pay attention to every detail, especially the wheels and the tyres. They give us a lot of work. »

Strade Bianche and its 60 km of gravel roads is one of the most demanding days of the season, both for the pilots and for the mechanics.

Although not quite on par with Paris-Roubaix in a specific setup, Pohrebny revealed that Israel-Premier Tech will use new wheels and tires specially selected and tested for the Strade Bianche on Saturday.

Team riders will race on sets of Black Inc Thirty and Forty-Five wheels and Maxxis High Road 28mm tubeless tires. The Factor Ostro frames and forks are not specifically modified for Strade Bianche, nor is there any additional handlebar padding or adjustments often seen in Paris-Roubaix.

For Strade Bianche, it’s all about choosing the right tires and the right pressure to find the perfect “float” on the gravel.

Pohrebny said that with the wider rims and reduced tire pressure, the tire width increases to almost 30mm on race day.

“With the wider rims and tire pressure it’s almost 30mm,” he said. “It visually looks a lot bigger. The point between and the surface is wider, giving better control over the gravel.

Tire selection is key for Tuscany’s gravel roads

It’s a busy time for the team mechanics during the Strade Bianche. Israel-Premier Tech’s Zoran Pohrebny prepares the bikes ahead of Saturday’s big race. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Israel-Premier Tech)

Pohrebny said the tubeless tires have reduced rolling resistance on pavement, which means riders can reduce tire pressure so they can get more grip on gravel sections without losing efficiency on the paved roads, which still represent more than 100 km of the race.

“Our biggest challenge for us at Strade Bianche is to have as few punctures as possible,” he said. “The big difference for the Strade Bianche is the tires and the wheels. The rest of the bike is a normal setup for any road race.

Two years ago, Pohrebny said there had been so many punctures in that year’s Strade Bianche across the whole field that the race’s neutral service had run out of spare wheels.

To avoid being caught off guard, each racer will have two spare bikes in follower cars throughout the race, with dozens of spare wheels built in and ready to be replaced in the event of a puncture. Mechanics will have them on hand in the sporting director’s cars, and team staff members will be placed on key gravel areas across the race course with extra wheels.

“The most important are the gravel sectors,” Pohrebny said. “If you have a problem there, you can waste a lot of time. Tubeless tires run much faster at low pressure than tubulars. In this race, the focus is more on gravel sections and the best tires and wheels.

Work began months ago on the preparation of the Strade Bianche

The day starts early for Israel-Premier Tech mechanic Zoran Pohrebny at the Strade Bianche. (Photo: Courtesy of Israel-Premier Tech)

Preparation for the Strade Bianche started months ago, when the team team started thinking about what wheels and tires to use.

Once the equipment arrived, Pohrebny and the other mechanics began building the bikes. Several riders have received sets of tires to test over the past few weeks, and on Thursday the team’s lead riders previewed several gravel sections to finalize the specific tire pressure each rider will race on.

Pohrebny keeps all the marked details in a notebook. Tire pressure is a well-kept secret among riders and mechanics.

Tire selection is key, but riders also have an influence on whether they see a lot of punctures during the race. If a rider feels confident and rides hard near the front end, they can float over the gravel and find cleaner lines to avoid some of the larger rocks, rocks and divots that can trigger a puncture.

“Yesterday, in almost 100 km of testing, we only had one puncture. It’s a good sign that the tires are good,” he said. “The grip is good and the riders are happy. Let’s see tomorrow. Training is not the same as racing.

For Pohrebny and the other mechanics, working on the bikes is a matter of passion for the sport. They take pride when one of their riders wins or if there are no mechanical issues that could prevent one of their riders from succeeding.

The job requires long hours and many days on the road. Last week, Pohrebny took part in the Gran Camiño race in northwestern Spain. At the end of the race, he drove the mechanic’s truck across Spain to the team’s service course in Girona. They reloaded the truck and then drove to Siena to be ready for the Strade Bianche.

With today’s integrated bikes and disc brakes, the hours are long. His day starts at 7am, and if he’s lucky, he’ll be done in time for dinner. Sometimes they’re up after midnight if they need to rebuild a bike or make emergency adjustments.

“The work never ends, but that’s normal for us,” he said. “Cycling is my passion. If not, you cannot do this job.

Simon Clarke, shown here racing in Spain, will be one of Israel-Premier Tech’s frontrunners and tested the team’s tubeless tires weeks before the race (Picture: Getty Images)

About Todd Wurtsbach

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