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Bianchi blames pro cycling team mechanics ignoring "specific instructions" for Paris-Roubaix problems that left Florian Sénéchal's bike like "cardboard" on the cobbles

Italian bike brand reacted with "surprise and concern" after reports of four bike changes for Arkea B&B Hotels rider amid "carbon noises" and fears his fork or stem was "starting to give out"...

Bianchi has hit back in the fallout to Paris-Roubaix which saw Florian Sénéchal claim his bike had been on the verge of giving out on the cobbles, the manufacturer blaming Arkea B&B Hotels mechanics for disregarding "specific instructions" about assembling handlebars, causing "disparities in the handling of the bicycles in competition".

Bianchi felt the need to release an at-length statement addressing Sénéchal's comments, the French rider having cut a frustrated figure in the velodrome afterwards, revealing he had four bike changes during the cobbled classic, switching between the aero Bianchi Oltre RC and lighter Specialissima RC models amid repeat mechanicals.

Florian Sénéchal Paris-Roubaix 2024 (ASO/Jonathan Biche)

Sénéchal reported hearing "carbon noises", his handlebars coming loose, fears his fork or stem was "starting to give out", and described his bike as having become "cardboard" on the cobbles.

In reply, Bianchi said it learnt of the problems with "surprise and concern" and has discussed the issues with the team.

All Bianchi frames and components have successfully passed the validation test protocols in accordance with the ISO 4210-5 standard, which certifies their suitability for use in total safety by our customers, and by professional athletes equipped by Bianchi.

With specific reference to the demands of racing on cobblestones – and in particular Paris-Roubaix, one of the most demanding races for bicycles and their components – the Arkea B&B Hotels organisation carried out several tests that validated the use of both the Bianchi Specialissima RC and Oltre RC models.

The numerous pre-race tests and the continuous use in competition of the Bianchi RC models by Team Arkea-B&B Hotels in the Northern classics, including Luca Mozzato's second place at the Tour of Flanders on the Oltre RC, demonstrate the total efficiency and effectiveness of the Bianchi Reparto Corse models, even in very high-stress races.

Following discussions between Bianchi and the technical staff of the team, it emerged that the specific instructions provided by Bianchi for assembling the handlebars of bikes were disregarded in some cases, causing disparities in the handling of the bicycles in competition.

Regardless of competitive and performance contexts, Bianchi considers the safety of its customers and professional athletes to be of paramount importance. The company constantly invests not only in research and development but also in laboratory and road testing activities which guarantee the use of its products in total safety.

Bianchi reiterates its support for Team Arkea B&B Hotels with renewed positivity, looking forward to the upcoming important events of the season with the aim of taking more victories and consolidating the top ten position in the UCI WorldTour rankings.

The French rider who finished 60th said afterwards that "it wasn't going well with my bike" and suggested the team had a "technical problem" that needed investigating.

"My fork or my stem was starting to give out," he told French cycling website Cyclism Actu. "There were carbon noises and it was becoming cardboard. I got scared and stopped to change bikes. In any case, I couldn't go any faster because I couldn't pull on the handlebars. And I didn't want to fall on my collarbone.

> Paris-Roubaix spectator's lawyer insists "never any intention to harm" to Mathieu van der Poel and confirms she has contacted riders' union

"I had to change bikes four times. At the Carrefour de l'Arbre, the handlebars of my second bike came loose."

Sénéchal's complaints come a year after Bianchi stood by the safety of the integrated aero handlebar on its Oltre RC road bike used during last year's classics after Hugo Hofstetter broke two sets of bars during the Grand Prix de Denain.

Hugo Hofstetter's bars break twice during GP Denain (GCN)

At the time, Bianchi said, "The possible breakage of a carbon fibre handlebar is a predictable condition as a consequence of a strong impact generated by uncontrollable dynamics." In other words, due to crash impacts.

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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13 comments

Avatar
Velophaart_95 | 3 months ago
2 likes

Is it any surprise this happened? Arkea-Samsic are an 'old school' French/ Breton team, and will likely employ 'old school' mechanics who aren't as clued up on the latest tech, and probably think they know best. 

 

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john_smith replied to Velophaart_95 | 3 months ago
2 likes

Exactly. First thing they do when they get new kit is throw away the instructions.

Avatar
check12 | 3 months ago
2 likes

Do bianchi care to share said "instructions" on how to stop their bikes falling to bits? 😂😂😂 I see in all news they have failed to report what they are which leads me to believe they are a bit embarrassing or they would just share them 

Avatar
brooksby replied to check12 | 3 months ago
0 likes

Maybe they involve duct tape and cable ties?

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john_smith replied to check12 | 3 months ago
1 like

Do you have one of the bikes in question or are you intending to work on one? If so, why don't you contact Bianchi? If not, why is it any of your business?

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Chris RideFar | 3 months ago
3 likes

Bianchi's response gives me even less confidence that their products are a good option for real-world riding. If professional team mechanics are not able to safely assemble their bikes, what makes Bianchi believe that the mechanics in bike shops who only assemble a couple of these bikes per year are going to get it right, or that the customers themselves know what they are doing? These brands should stop messing around re-designing bars, stems and fork systems that look great on their 3D CAD computer screen and instead give us a standard version that is simple, works, and is more universal and adjustable. Thanks.

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Destroyer666 replied to Chris RideFar | 3 months ago
1 like

Well, there's nothing in the statetement that indicates the mechanics were unable to follow instructions - just that those were disregarded. The reasons for the disregard might or might not be what you assume it to have been.

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the infamous grouse | 3 months ago
0 likes

should've stuck with the one-piece 5d/6d ACR .. would have looked nicer, too.

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Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
4 likes

And so we look forward to all the apologies from everyone who called him a little princess, turns out he was right.

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john_smith replied to Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
2 likes

Was there ever any real doubt about that? If a rider says his bike sounded as though it was about to disintegrate, and some nobody on an internet forum says he was wrong, who do you believe?

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brooksby | 3 months ago
0 likes

Quote:

the specific instructions provided by Bianchi for assembling the handlebars of bikes were disregarded in some cases

I do wonder what those "specific instructions" were…

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Secret_squirrel replied to brooksby | 3 months ago
1 like

use allen key to tighten bolt.

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Secret_squirrel | 3 months ago
2 likes

Sénéchal is going to be last in the queue for the latest Bianchi shiny shiny.  Though both parties may be glad of that.

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