Giro tech: Contador goes Apex

Race leader opts for cheaper components in the mountains

by Mat Brett   May 24, 2011  

Giro d’Italia leader Alberto Contador sidelined SRAM Red components and opted instead for much more lowly Apex in the mountains of this year’s race for the option of a wider spread of gears. The other members of Saxo-Bank Sungard, Astana and Garmin-Cervélo did the same.

Apex comes with a SRAM WiFLi cassette – wider, faster, lighter. The ‘wider’ bit refers to the fact that you get an 11-32T, and that’s what appears to be fitted here. That’s a big old spread of gear ratios open to you with a double chainset.

When SRAM say it’s ‘faster’ and ‘lighter’, they’re comparing Apex with a triple chainset. We really can’t see El Pistolero ever considering heading into the Dolomites with a triple on board.

A SRAM Red rear derailleur can’t handle that range so the riders all swapped to a mid-cage Apex option at the back. That’s 63 quid’s worth of rear mech instead of the usual £300 one. It’s only about 40g heavier.

 

 

43 user comments

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Some of the giro bikes are also running front mechs from force and rival but are badged up as red - SRAM have the giro and the tour wrapped up for marketing, i don't think i don't think i've seen a campy lever in there.

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

stuartpeck1's picture

posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
24th May 2011 - 21:39

4 Likes

shuttie92 wrote:
You shouldn't be cycling at all if you can't ride through the peaks on a 42/21. Before you sort out your bike, you must first chainge yourself

Well, since it's worded almost exaclty as the bit in the first post I see no other way but to take this as sarcasm/funny.

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koko56's picture

posted by koko56 [334 posts]
24th May 2011 - 22:04

1 Like

1961BikiE - We all want different things from our cycling - that's why there are so many options out there & not a 'one ratio fits all' setup. Solving the cause of your back pain is far more important than people's opinion of your gear ratios. Good luck with hitting that target.

posted by Celeste08 [38 posts]
24th May 2011 - 22:32

1 Like

stuartpeck1 wrote:
Some of the giro bikes are also running front mechs from force and rival but are badged up as red - SRAM have the giro and the tour wrapped up for marketing, i don't think i don't think i've seen a campy lever in there.

... apart from the two in the picture at the top of this story.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1370 posts]
25th May 2011 - 7:11

0 Likes

I ride a Campy setup and for Alpine Sportives. A Compact Chain set (50/34) with an 11-29 cassette .... the cassette being an amalgamation of the stantard 11-25 and 13-29 as campy don't make that wide a range. Interestingly though the standard short/medium rear mech cage copes with the range very well! It's a lighter option than a triple.

posted by GrimpeurChris [59 posts]
25th May 2011 - 9:33

0 Likes

I wouldn't have got up Hardknott without my trusty Apex rear saucer Smile

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7469 posts]
25th May 2011 - 10:10

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Whether it's SRAM's marketing dept or not, it seemed to work in the ITT yesterday.

Dirty Bertie was really spinning away up that climb, and for me (and Dave Harmon on EuroSport) I really didn't think he looked like he was going as fast as Nibali and Scarponi.

You know, if that's what smaller gears does for you, I might stick an XTR crank/cassette/mech on my race bike. Everyone watch out!

Thinking

posted by Matt_S [188 posts]
25th May 2011 - 10:20

1 Like

Matt_S wrote:
You know, if that's what smaller gears does for you, I might stick an XTR crank/cassette/mech on my race bike. Everyone watch out!

Thinking

Funny you should say that: http://road.cc/content/news/36222-giro-tech-millar-goes-all-mtb

posted by Mat Brett [1925 posts]
25th May 2011 - 10:24

1 Like

Mat Brett wrote:
Funny you should say that: http://road.cc/content/news/36222-giro-tech-millar-goes-all-mtb

Yes, but I meant with a 26/38 XTR chainset, not a 42/52 osymmetrics like DM was using. Wink

posted by Matt_S [188 posts]
25th May 2011 - 10:34

1 Like

Are the Shimano 10 speed MTB and Road shifters and rear derailleurs compatible? (I know SRAM are.)

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1370 posts]
25th May 2011 - 10:36

2 Likes

cat1commuter wrote:
stuartpeck1 wrote:
Some of the giro bikes are also running front mechs from force and rival but are badged up as red - SRAM have the giro and the tour wrapped up for marketing, i don't think i don't think i've seen a campy lever in there.

... apart from the two in the picture at the top of this story.

Note the 'some' in the text ; )

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

stuartpeck1's picture

posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
25th May 2011 - 11:04

0 Likes

Mat Brett wrote:
Matt_S wrote:
You know, if that's what smaller gears does for you, I might stick an XTR crank/cassette/mech on my race bike. Everyone watch out!

Thinking

Funny you should say that: http://road.cc/content/news/36222-giro-tech-millar-goes-all-mtb

He also uses rotor chain rings, probably set up full tilt

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

stuartpeck1's picture

posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
25th May 2011 - 11:11

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joemmo wrote:
the double looks cleaner but I prefer the triple for the range and the fact that 80% of the gears I use are on the 39T ring. Idefinitely do more double shifting on the compact

These are the reasons I've stuck with my triple to date.

SRAM are using the 'triples are dead' angle for marketing but if a dedicated road wide range cassette gets people riding then I don't mind. There's room for both options.

GrimpeurChris wrote:
It's a lighter option than a triple.

So is only half-filling a water bottle or having a pee before you start the climb. Don't believe the hype - the reduction in weight (200g?) by losing the third chainring is insignificant, even on big hills. For a 70kg rider on 10kg bike it's 0.2% of total weight.

The talk of lower Q-factor is marketing speak too, as the the modified pedals on Cavendish's Giro bike demonstrate.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2030 posts]
25th May 2011 - 11:12

2 Likes

Mat Brett wrote:
Matt_S wrote:
You know, if that's what smaller gears does for you, I might stick an XTR crank/cassette/mech on my race bike. Everyone watch out!

Thinking

Funny you should say that:

Millar has rotor on the front mind, set up full tilt i'd imagine

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

stuartpeck1's picture

posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
25th May 2011 - 11:13

1 Like

If the gears work for you, then get out and ride your bike.
If your gears don't work, then you're probably either at the velodrome or being a fred!

Bring me sunshine, and dry roads

MalcolmBinns's picture

posted by MalcolmBinns [107 posts]
25th May 2011 - 12:14

0 Likes

You wouldn't only drive your car up a hill in 5th gear because you're hard, so why insist on riding a big gear on your bike?

The most appropriate gear is the one which gets you to the top the quickest.

posted by italiafirenze [68 posts]
25th May 2011 - 14:15

1 Like

"The most appropriate gear is the one which gets you to the top"

fixed that for you. Smile

k

posted by keefus [8 posts]
25th May 2011 - 18:03

1 Like

1961-
For me I've found that I love the compact with the 34/25 being the easiest gear, I use a 12-25 so still get close ratios which I like. If the 34/25 gear isn't enough, you might want to try a 27 cassette, the difference is 1.36 to 1.26, so you'll be moving one tenth of a revolution more for the same distance. (I think my rational is right there but excuse me if not!)
basically that might help and is easy to do as most rear mechs should accept the 27 no probs.
Otherwise it might not be a bad idea to consider a bike with a triple.

posted by pmr [174 posts]
25th May 2011 - 22:53

2 Likes

Greetings from the Republic of Boulder, CO. I don't think I am a gearhead, bikesnob or gearNazi but thought I'd offer my 2 bits. I'd echo keefus as I used to have a 55/46 and 12-25 set for my daily commute (all into big ring pushing) on rollers. The first group ride I did was up one of the steepest short climbs we have in our area (10-14% ramps). Needless to say that a) I did it at 3mph standing up in the 46/25, 2)yes, my tongue was dragging on the asphalt, and 3)weighed ~90kg. So yeah, I made it to the top but it was ...hard.

Now, I'm a bit lighter (60-65kg), have a compact double with similar rear gearing but can climb in the big ring for much of that climb. I did use an XTR cassette for awhile and found that was a nice choice as well. I opted for the CD vs a triple because of redundant gearing. I also didn't want to get into a bit of crosschaining as well which I'd experienced when demoing bikes with triple rings.

Last summer I did a ride over much of the higher mountains out in CO and found a compact double worked fine, definitely thought I did better/as good as the conventional 52/39 stuff that a lot of folks were riding.

~BD

posted by bikedog [20 posts]
25th May 2011 - 22:57

4 Likes

shuttie92 wrote:
You shouldn't be cycling at all if you can't ride through the peaks on a 42/21. Before you sort out your bike, you must first chainge yourself

I hope you dont mean that...it would be a shame if you did.

posted by geoSpectrum [2 posts]
26th May 2011 - 4:51

0 Likes

Bike Cru rides a BIG gear for 1 in 4 & 1 in 5 hills around the peak district, or is he staying on the rolling hills - more likely!!!

Marky

Marky Legs's picture

posted by Marky Legs [112 posts]
26th May 2011 - 8:08

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I assume Contador is still running a 54/39 with his new 11-32? I use a standard compact 50/34 with a 12-27 for hill work. In respect of meters development 39 x 32 yields the same meters development of 2.6 than my 34 x 27. A standard triple of 50/39/30 with a standard 12-25 cassette yields 2.5 meters development when turning the 30 x 25 gear. At the low end, all three solutions yeild almost identical results.

BTH
'hills hurt, sofas kill'

posted by djbth77 [2 posts]
26th May 2011 - 10:04

1 Like

who cares as long you are enjoying cycling(thats the point of cycling havin fun)ride what ever gearing you like...Smile as cyclists we should be encouraging people to ride,not telling them they shouldnt,get on your bike and smile..

robbo764

posted by robbo764 [52 posts]
26th May 2011 - 10:56

1 Like

well said, it's the evil motorists we should we shouting at, not each other Surprise

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

stuartpeck1's picture

posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
26th May 2011 - 11:20

1 Like

When my bottom gear was 34/25 I did feel a bit embarassed so changed to a 34/21. Then I began to feel a little embarassed by the 34 front ring so invested in a 39. After getting up King Alfreds the other day without too much distress on my new 39/21 when previously 34/21 had been a struggle I began to think I might be arriving in the world of cycling at last. I am dissapointed to see 42/21 is now the benchmark. I am now off to see if my butcher has any mexican beef in stock.

whizz kid

posted by whizzkid [62 posts]
26th May 2011 - 16:06

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1961BikiE wrote:
I'm seriously considering changing my Ultegra mech for a med cage XT so I can get a 32 tooth sprocket. My problem being only the peak district hills, but then I am hauling 106kg (hopefully at the moment but even if I hit my target I'll still be 95kg). I can actually get up hills on 34/25 the trouble being my back spasms after too long grinding and so I really need lower gears to restore a spin which I can easily keep up.

I'm sure some one will be along soon to tell me I have not right to be cycling if I can't ride though the peaks on a 42/21 low gear.

I do exactly this, except I managed to find a lovely Dura-ace long cage mech. Its great. I expect the 'mashers' will all be needing knee replacement surgery in the future!

posted by don_don [149 posts]
26th May 2011 - 16:41

1 Like

I've been running my existing 105 50/34 chainset and medium cage mech and an Apex cassette for a while now and it works well. It will cover all gears without any problems - I have it on my commuter which I plan to tour on. A cheaper option than converting fully to SRAM if you happen to already have shimano!

Angus Rivers

posted by angusrivers [2 posts]
26th May 2011 - 19:19

0 Likes

whizzkid wrote:
When my bottom gear was 34/25 I did feel a bit embarassed so changed to a 34/21. Then I began to feel a little embarassed by the 34 front ring so invested in a 39. After getting up King Alfreds the other day without too much distress on my new 39/21 when previously 34/21 had been a struggle I began to think I might be arriving in the world of cycling at last. I am dissapointed to see 42/21 is now the benchmark. I am now off to see if my butcher has any mexican beef in stock.

As has previously been said, the best gear is the one that gets you up the hill in the quickest time. If you feel a 39/21 is the best gear for you then go for it. There can be no denying that it is a big gear as far a lowest gears go. Others, me included prefer to have a lower gear and achieve this by running a 34 chain ring. Quite frankly the thought of mashing up an 18-20% hill with a 39/21 low gear sends shivvers through my knees. My previous post emphasised that three different chain ring - cassette set ups yeild almost identical meters development results for the lowest gears. It's a personal thing, run the chain ring-cassette combination that suits you best. This subject all too often turns into a dick swinging competition, it's the not size of your gear that counts, it's what you do with it! Do we subscribe to this view though. Ha!

BTH
'hills hurt, sofas kill'

posted by djbth77 [2 posts]
27th May 2011 - 8:18

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joemmo wrote:
but is he using a compact chainset as well or just a regular 39t on the front?

SRAM say that Contador was using a 50/34 compact chainset on his 'climbing road bike'.

posted by Mat Brett [1925 posts]
1st June 2011 - 10:01

2 Likes

strange how millar and co. are using big rings with lots of teeth on the back. when weight weenies are so bothered about every single gram but wouldn't using a small chainset and small rings at the back use less materiel than two big rings

hi

posted by cool guy 999 [54 posts]
7th June 2011 - 16:48

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