The cobbled roads of northern France may well have been where the tubular tyre went to die. Both winners of Paris-Roubaix rode aero-optimised bikes, massive tubeless tyres and disc brakes. Here is Lizzie Deignan's Trek Domane SLR 9 and the Merida Reacto Team-E of Sonny Colbrelli.
The Queen of the Cobbles
GettyImages via Trek Bikes
Britain’s Lizzie Deignan rides for the Trek Segafredo team and, as the name might suggest, the riders have Trek’s range of bikes at their disposal. The riders can choose between the sprinter-aero Madone, the climber-aero Emonda or the cobble-aero Domane.
> Race Report: Deignan takes historic victory at first ever Paris-Roubaix Femmes
All of Trek’s road racing models have aero frame touches these days, such is the importance placed on cheating the wind. The Domane sports brake hoses that are neatly tucked away, as well as deep tube shapes.
> Review: Trek Domane SL Disc 2021
But unlike Colbrelli’s bike, which we’ll take a closer look at in a minute, Deignan’s Domane features at least a little frame tech to make the cobbles a bit more comfortable.
Trek’s ISO Speed Decoupler sits in the headtube, allowing just a little bit of extra compliance into the front end of the bike. At the rear, the riders - or actually more so their mechanics - are able to fine-tune the ride quality with an adjustable version of the ISO Speed Decoupler.
Wheels come from Trek’s in-house components brand Bontrager in the form of the Aeolus RSL 37V TLR Disc. These hooked tubeless wheels feature a whopping 25mm inner rim width, which is perfect for wide road tyres.
> 7 bump-taming road bikes that help stop your hands and bum getting battered
Speaking of tyres, Deignan was rolling on Pirelli P Zero tubeless-ready rubber. Given the width of the rims and the fact that the tyres dwarf them, we wouldn’t be surprised to find that Deignan was running a 30mm width.
> Review: Pirelli P Zero Velo folding tyre
A SRAM Red eTap AXS groupset provides wireless 1X shifting with a tasty solid carbon aero chainring. The integrated power meter will have been collecting some bumpy data, but Deignan is reportedly not a rider that likes to ride to numbers, preferring the old fashioned ‘feel’.
Trek Segafredo/Laura Meseguer
It’s the standard SRAM 160mm rotors front and rear, but Deignan might want some gloves next time…
And then it really rained
If the women’s race looked like carnage on semi-muddy cobbles - and it absolutely was - Sunday’s race saw the first rainy men’s edition for around 20 years. In fact, conditions were so bad that if you had the Gieten cyclocross race on at the same time, you’d have been struggling to know which race was which.
> Race Report: Sonny Colbrelli thrives on chaos of mud splattered Paris-Roubaix to take memorable victory
Out of hell emerged three riders, all first-timers at the most technically challenging race on the calendar, and all absolutely spent; but in the sit-down sprint, it was the Italian who continued his nation’s amazing year of sporting success to cross the line in first place.
His bike is the Merida Reacto. This is the brand’s aero race bike and one that traditionally wouldn’t go anywhere near a cobblestone for fear of being too harsh. In fact, in a certain bike reviewer’s first ride review, there might have been mention of this bike being too harsh for the lanes of Somerset. That has aged well…
Colbrelli was using the new Continental GP5000 S TR tubeless road tyre. You can read about them here, but the gist is that Conti says they’re finally compatible with hookless rims, while also being lighter, faster, stronger and easier to mount than the existing Grand Prix 5000 TL.
Like Deignan, Colbrelli’s tyres bulge out on what are already wide rims; so again, a tyre width of 30mm or more wouldn’t surprise us at all.
These were mounted on the latest Vision Metron 60 SLs which launched at the Tour de France, claiming to be aero optimised for 28mm tyres. While these wheels are decently wide at 21mm internally, they’re not as fat as Deignan’s hoops which could have impacted Colbrelli’s pressure choice, an imperative factor when tackling wet cobbles.
Colbrelli’s Bahrain-Victorious team is sponsored by Shimano, but the new 12-speed Dura-Ace R9200 is nowhere to be seen in the pro peloton just yet, so the 11-speed version had to do.
Riders regularly fit a larger inner chainring for Roubaix, but with the conditions making the cobble sectors a little slower than usual, the 53T outer chainrings are what most riders opted for.
While Colbrelli would usually opt for an integrated aero bar from component sponsor Vision, he chose to run a traditional round model for Roubaix. Many riders find that they have better comfort and control when riding the cobbles on the ‘tops’, and so a round bar is most suitable.
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