Tour de France tech: Greipel’s Ridley green machine
After winning stage 2 at the 2015 Tour de France, André Greipel claimed the Green points jersey and has since spent stage 3 and stage 5 riding a green Ridley Noah SL. Dave Everett, got a chance to take photos of the bike and speak to the mechanics about the process of building it up.
Only five stages in to this years Tour and we have been treated to two frantic and scrappy stages contested in sprint finishes. So far with his haul of two stage wins, several mid-race sprint point wins and the donning of the points jersey, the man that seems to be the rider to beat is André Greipel of Lotto-Soudal.
The German sprinter in the first week has taken two very interesting stage victories. The first after taking advantage of playing it cool while letting Cavendish open up the sprint early, and then stage five’s win by fighting for wheels as not all his lead out men were fit and ready for action.
At the start line of stage three on display outside the Lotto-Soudal bus was Greipel’s new Ridley Noah SL team bike, in a matching bright green to celebrate the points jersey he had taken on stage two.
Ridley, the team’s official frame supplier, is based just south-east of Antwerp in Paal-Beringen. Last year when Tony Gallopin took the yellow jersey Ridley worked through the night to paint a frame, then drove it to the team hotel for it to be built early in the morning so it was ready for the stage start. The question was, had it been the same this year?
Chatting with team mechanic, Steven van Olmen, it turned out that this year the team had come well prepared for such a result. As you’ll hear in the audio (you can listen below) the bike was waiting at the team hotel with two mechanics prepped and ready to build it in a hurry if Greipel was to win Stage 2 and take the green jersey. As we know, he did, and as soon as that news was heard out came the tools and the mechanics set to work.
They needed to be quick though due to the fact that the stage had seen several riders on the team take huge tumbles (in particular Adam Hansen). For mechanics, a stage such as stage two (and three), where bikes are taking the brunt of the crash impact, there is a considerable amount of repair work needed to get the rest of the team bikes up to scratch for the following stage. The added work of building a matching bike to a leader’s jersey, when talking to the mechanics, seems more of a privilege than a chore.
A Belgium TV crew were on hand when the mechanics presented the bike to the Gorilla, and it seems this is becoming a trend as the same Belgium TV station covered the unveiling of Rohan Dennis’ yellow BMC SLC01 for stage two live on telly.
The frame is Ridley’s aero offering, the Noah SL, a lighter model of the Noah FAST that is still available. Apart from the green colour the bike is exactly the same as what Greipel uses normally on a flat stage. He has recently been seen aboard the all new Finix SL, mainly for more demanding surfaces such as that of stage four’s cobbles. But for sprint stages the Noah SL is still his weapon of choice.
The frame has several neat features to put it in that ever growing category of aero bikes. Namely, the F-Splitfork, which is in essence a fork with a gap that runs down the majority of the fork’s leg, splitting it in to two blades. The idea of this gap is it allows the incoming frontal air to be pulled away from the spokes to create an airstream, reducing the air pressure between the wheel and fork. The other feature is the F-Surface, a so called “trip tape” effect built into the frame that forces the airstream to stick to the frame rather that causing turbulence across it. It’s available on many of Ridley’s models but usually as a thin tape that is applied to a very precise area on the down tube of the frame.
The bike’s built up with the usual high quality products from the team’s technical partners. Campagnolo’s trusted electronic offering, the Super Record EPS, takes care of shifting. Chainring choice is a standard 53 outer and inner 39, with an 11 speed 11-25 cassette. The cranks are SRM Campagnolo with a custom green PC8 head unit. Wheels are from Campganolo again, the Bora Ultra 35mm, wrapped in Continental Competition Pro Ltd tubulars. The bars and stem come from Italian supplier Deda. Unlike many in the peloton, it seems that Greipel prefers the reliability of an alloy bar and stem as apposed to a carbon pair. The Deda 35M bar mixed with the matching 35 Trentacinque oversized stem with its huge 35 diameter clamp, together with the tapered headset makes for an incredibly stiff cockpit. Finishing the ride is the custom graphic Selle San Marco Concor saddle with Greipels’s signature gorilla on it.
The late nights and hard work that mechanics on many teams have to put in is an area that many will not be aware of. However, while talking with Steven van Olmen it turns out that he and his fellow staff seem not to be forgotten by Greipel. Even before the team hit the first stage the German had treated every rider and staff member to a watch, a gesture that he didn’t need to do, but one that cements a good relationship in the team. Is this the secret to his string of wins?
You can see photos of the build below: