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Team Sunweb rolls out on disc brakes for cobbled classics

Team will race Giant Defy with new Dura-Ace disc brakes starting with Dwars door Vlaanderen today

Team Sunweb has today revealed it will be rolling out on disc brakes at the cobbled classics, starting with the Dwars door Vlaanderen today.

The team is sponsored by Giant and so will ride the bike company’s Defy Advanced SL Disc. The Defy was completely revamped in 2014 with a complete disc brake focus - there is no rim brake version - so it’s either disc brakes or use an older Defy if the team wants to use the dedicated endurance bike with its increased tyre clearance for the spring classics. 

 - Review: Giant Defy Advanced SL road bike

team sunweb giant defy disc brakes 3.jpg

As well as accommodating bigger tyres, the Defy also provides a more compliant ride through the use of a special carbon fibre layup and careful tube shape  The most notable feature is the integrated D-Fuse seatmast which allows the saddle to move back and forth under impacts. The geometry is more upright than the TCR Advanced so we see the fitting of negative rise stems to replicate the slammed position that racers generally prefer.

Shimano’s brand new Dura-Ace R9170 Di2 groupset with the latest generation hydraulic disc brakes will be used for the first time in the professional peloton. 

- Shimano reveals new top-end R9100 Dura-Ace groupset

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It’s the Japanese company’s first dedicated Dura-Ace level disc brake groupset, and heralds a number of changes, including lower weight and dedicated Dura-Ace rotors that bring better heat management properties, and a claimed “30°c reduction in rotor temperature over Shimano’s ICE Technologies Freeza rotors,” according to the company. The spare bike above shows a regular disc rotor, whilst the photos of the bike Matthews will race shows the newer rotors.

Our Mat got to ride the new groupset and disc brakes and you can read his first impressions here. 

The team is also pairing the new Dura-Ace 40mm carbon fibre rims with the disc brakes but the simple Shimano sticker differs from the production versions Shimano unveiled at its launch last year, so could they be something different, or just pre-production samples.

"We chose this setup, with the disc brakes, for the upcoming cobblestone classics because we believe they will offer us a competitive advantage," said Tom Davids, Team Sunweb's R&D expert speaking to Cyclingnews today.

team sunweb giant defy disc brakes 1.jpg

Aussie sprinter Michael Matthews will be hoping for some good results in the races that suit his strengths, and he’ll apparently be riding disc brakes. Though he hasn’t raced with disc brakes yet, he has been using them in training and it sounds like he’s impressed with the braking performance and sees disc brakes as the natural evolution of cycle racing.

"The braking is really amazing," Matthews said speaking to Cyclingnews. ”It really feels like a mountain bike and I love the braking on mountain bikes. It's not too much and it's not too little; it's really the perfect balance of braking.”

team sunweb giant defy disc brakes 5.jpg

"I haven't actually raced with them yet, but from what I've felt in training and seen on TV with other people racing, I can't see anything wrong with them. It's the evolution of cycling, we need to move forward with something and, looking at this bike right now, it's the evolution of cycling. It looks beautiful and to ride it's also really nice."

- Have disc brakes really led to injuries in peloton?

We'll be paying particular attention to the Dwars door Vlaanderen race today to see how the team gets on.

Photos © Team Sunweb

David worked on the tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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