Do you notice anything unusual about the bike that two time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar rode to victory on the penultimate stage of Tirreno-Adriatico last week? Yep, rim brakes. They’re a rarity on a pro’s bike these days.
Like the rest of the peloton, Pogacar uses disc brake bikes most of the time. He won Strade Bianche and stage 4 of Tirreno-Adriatico on a disc brake bike, for example. However, he switched to a disc brake Colnago V3Rs for stage 6.
How come? It’s down to weight. Pogacar’s rim brake bike is about 300g lighter than his disc brake bike.
Stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico involved a circuit of Cippo di Carpegna – Pantani’s favourite training ground – that was ridden twice. The circuit featured a climb of 6km with gradients of up to 14% followed by a fast descent to the stage finish. In other words, climbing speed was always likely to be important in determining the stage result, and that’s how it played out.
Pogacar launched a solo attack with 16km to go and reached the finish line with an advantage of over a minute. He maintained his lead on the largely flat final stage to take the overall win.
Although most pro riders use disc brakes the whole time (apart from some who have rim brakes on their time trial bikes), the Slovenian rider swaps to rim brake bikes fairly often when he wants to save weight on a mountainous stage.
For instance, although he mostly rode disc brake bikes in last year’s Tour de France, Pogacar won stages 17 and 18 on a rim brake Colnago V3Rs. They were both summit finishes. Pogacar’s attitude is that he wants any slight weight advantage he can get when climbing is going to prove decisive.
Colnago pitches the V3Rs as the perfect all-round bike, suited to sprinting, climbing and everything else in-between. It claims a frame weight of 780g, although that’s for the disc brake version in a 50cm version (Colnago’s sizing is unusual; a 50cm frame has a 537mm effective top tube, so it’s larger than you might think).
The vast majority of UAE Team Emirates’ other sponsors are Italian too. Pogacar’s groupset is Campagnolo’s top-level Super Record EPS – a 12-speed electronic system. The V3Rs takes direct mount brakes, the arms bolting directly to the frame and fork.
The wheels are Campagnolo Bora Ultras. These look like the version with a 50mm rim depth. They feature aerodynamic spokes and carbon hubs that are fitted with Campag’s CULT ceramic bearings. These have a friction coefficient that’s a claimed 40% lower than that of standard sealed bearings. The wheels are fitted with Pirelli P Zero tyres.
Pogacar’s efforts to save weight extend beyond the bike. He uses DMT KRSL laced shoes, for instance, that feature a 3D knitted seamless upper and a superlight carbon sole. DMT claims a weight of just 205g per shoe (so 410g the pair) in a size 42.
Pogacar has also ditched his water bottles for the climbing at the end of the stage.
Although none of these weight-saving measures is massive in itself, added together they’re significant when there’s a lot of climbing to be done and you’re racing against some of the best riders in the world.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.