Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.
World champion Peter Sagan has been testing a Specialized Roubaix disc-brake bike at the Bora-Hansgrohe training camp in Spain, and is likely to make a decision in the coming weeks about using the machine in Paris-Roubaix.
On Tuesday, the Bora-Hansgrohe team presented its key riders, including Sagan, its new jersey, and its 2017 race bikes at a team camp near Valencia, Spain. Sagan’s bike was on display, and aside from the new team colours, the most striking aspect was the disc-brake rotors adorning the machine.
CyclingTips spoke with the squad’s new technical director, Lars Teutenberg, who confirmed that the world road champion is considering the new system in some of the spring races.
“We are allowed to use discs in races again,” Teutenberg said. “It is all new bikes for us, so we have to go through the process, get the riders on the bike and get them confident in using the disc brakes. It is only a question of when the big change will come. So far we are working on both systems in parallel.”
Disc brakes were tested at a small number of events in 2015, and then again in 2016. However a crash during Paris-Roubaix saw Movistar rider Fran Ventoso injured. The Spaniard publicly claimed that the leg laceration he suffered was caused by a disc brake rotor, causing the UCI to abandon the trial use of such equipment.
However a forensic study commissioned by the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry later concluded that a chainring was more likely the cause of the injury.
Whether or not that was the case, the UCI confirmed in October that disc brakes will return to use in 2017. The governing body named one limitation: the rotors must be made more blunt than before, making it more difficult for any rider to suffer injury.
With disc brakes returning to the peloton, any decision by Sagan to get on board with this technology would be seen as a major endorsement of the technology. In addition to being a two-time world champion, Sagan is also the defending Tour of Flanders champion, and will be one of the top favourites for every Spring Classic he enters.
CyclingTips asked Teutenberg how soon Sagan could potentially end up making his decision.
“Peter did one ride yesterday on the bike, so I think he needs a bit more than that,” he answered. “We also have the Venge with disc brakes available for the riders. During February we will see for the Roubaix setup. The advantage there is you have way more tire clearance than with any other traditional brake system.
“Peter wanted to try these brakes. He has some requests on how to set it up to match his preferences, his sensations. Then we will see. You can’t really decide on the table if you prefer that system compared to another one. It needs all these tricky conditions where you really feel the difference then.”
Teutenberg downplayed concerns voiced about disc safety, saying that talk about riders getting sliced or scalded on rotors will not be relevant.
“Chainrings are also sharp, and we [won’t] change to belt drive anytime soon,” he said. “Now the rotors are now more blunt than before. This is the only possible contact point that you have. Some say that the rotor will be hot after braking, but I don’t see a big issue with that.”
Teutenberg pointed out that at present, Specialized’s new Roubaix frameset is only available for disc brakes. He said between that and the disc-equipped Venge models, Bora riders could be on the new machines very quickly once the decision is made.
That means that if Sagan concludes that the wider tire clearance, increased modulation, and superior stopping power in wet conditions is what he wants to use this spring, the world champion could be racing a disc-equipped Roubaix soon.
Time will tell how many of the sport’s other Classics stars will also opt for similar setups.