Astana say the Italian's change in crank length has nothing to do with his below par performance at the 2016 Giro d'Italia

Astana say they refuse to put blame the bike for Vincenzo Nibali‘s performance in the Giro d’Italia this week. Nibali changed to longer crank arms this winter and unlike his teammates using Campagnolo’s electronic shifting, he decided on a mechanical group.

>>> Pro Bike: Vincenzo Nibali’s Specialized S-Works Tarmac

The Italian Grand Tour star lost time in three stages in a row in the Giro d’Italia. Race leader Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) put 43 seconds into him in the stage to Corvara, 2-10 in the time trial and another 1-52 on Tuesday in Andalo. Nibali now trails by 4-43 in fourth place.

“He change from 172.5[mm] to 175 crank arms, it’s a 2.5mm change,” Nibali’s trainer Paolo Slongo told Cycling Weekly.

>>> Are shorter cranks better?

“It’s small, but a longer crank should give more of a push when you have strength. We made the decision in December. He’s been using it all year, already in the Tour of Oman, Tirreno-Adriatico.

“I’ve seen many things written on it lately, but I don’t think that a 2.5mm change is the reason behind Nibali’s performance now. I’d look for it in other areas, like the team is doing to do by checking his values.”vincenzo nibali specialized s-works tarmac

Astana’s doctor is checking Nibali’s levels to see if he is sick to try to find some reason why the pre-race favourite, winner in 2013, is not contending for the title.

Slongo does not see Nibali changing back to the shorter crank arms anytime soon.

“No. We could look at it later. He could turn back now to a shorter crank, but that would be more for his head. It’s not going to change his current performances,” Slongo added.

“If you can push it, a longer crank arm should give you more resistance. He has a long femur, so it works out. It hinders your attacks, but helps in other areas.

“Those who are racing for the classification don’t need those pure attacks, they need more resistance. In theory, it helps gives him an advantage in the classification battle. You need to be regular to race the GC, not an attacker.

“We shouldn’t look at what happened recently. He won a sprint against Alejandro Valverde in Friuli. I don’t think that we made a mistake and that you can blame the crank arm on his current performances.”


Watch: Vincenzo Nibali’s bike from the 2015 Tour de France


Nibali also lost time due to a mis-shift in the uphill time trial to Alpe di Siusi on Sunday. Near the finish, his chain came off his chainring and after trying to correct it himself, he stopped for a new bike.

Unlike his teammates on Campagnolo’s electric groupset, Nibali uses the mechanical Super Record group.

“He uses it because he always wants to have a lighter bike. The mechanical one is a little lighter. The entire team is on the electronic group. He used it in Tour of Oman, too, but he’s looking at every avenue to save weight,” said Slongo.

“Under force, dropping the chain can happen. He was going from a 53 to 39-tooth gear. Also, I calculated that he lost 30 seconds for the problems, but if you lose two minutes then that means that you’ve lost a lot of time in other areas. We can’t blame the bike.”

  • Al Parente

    Uh, it looks like you were there when Nibali hung onto his team car! So you should know that he had a flat tyre and had to change a wheel. Of course, if your name is Nibali you are not allowed to do what every rider does when being perfectly unknown! The jury usually let it go, permitting the rider to re-gain what he lost because of a crash or a change of bike or wheel or whatever . But they had no mercy with Nibali. Can you tell me why?

  • nwjohn

    Let’s face it – likely main reason is his dirty drugged team have ben caught . . .

  • RobTM

    Well Nibs probably is suffering from not being able to hang onto to team cars this year

  • Michael

    By saying a higher resistance he’s suggesting, I believe that it’s typical the cadence on longer cranks is lower.

    Note that your foot is travelling faster at the same cadence on longer cranks compared with shorter because it’s further away and travelling in a larger circle.

    So riders typically do a higher cadence on shorter cranks because if their foot is moving at the same speed they are used to on longer cranks the cadence will be higher. Higher cadence is less torque for a given power and the reverse is why he says it’s more resistance.

    You can change gear etc so the leverage differences are mostly moot and supposedly not that significant.

    But I think this is the gist of it – that he expects Nibali to be spinning the cranks a bit slower than he would on shorter cranks and hence having more resistance.

  • J1

    “this is why track bike usually have shorter crank arm because they don’t have gears”

    It’s also about clearance with track bikes.

  • J1

    He’s off to the Bahrain team for next season still.

  • Peak power doesn’t change with crank length, even extremes. But joint loading is affected, especially at the hip. Nibali has it wrong on this occasion because using a longer crank in a TT position closes the hip at the top of the pedal stroke. This can affect pedalling efficiency and even require a less aerodynamic set-up as a compensation. But looking at the width of his road-position bars, aero isn’t uppermost in his mind. In terms of torque, this is not normally so important in TT’s

  • Robin Mainwaring

    Poor old Nibs, what I think has really happened with his Giro is that he has found himself in the last week of a grand tour with some decent opposition…mixed with the fact that Nibs still seems to see himself as a ‘shark’ so he keeps trying to attack when his form should dictate a more conservative/tactical approach. I personally think he did little to merit he pre-tour favourite status apart from trucking up with the best team (not belittling his pre-tour wins but I don’t think anyone can rate them up against, say, the Dauphine prior to the Tour). Nibali did win the TdF fairly recently and you can only beat what is there…but the best had already crashed out. Unfortunately, some of the best are still in this one (not ignoring Landa but shoot happens). PS. I reserve the right to change my mind about him over the next 2 days 😉

  • Altimis Nuel

    Indeed, shorter will generally spin faster but its not free

    You’re trade it off and gain something

  • Altimis Nuel

    You’re correct, this article make no sense, its either wrong spelling or wrong translated

    Longer lever = more torque = less resistance to turn, its simple physic

  • Altimis Nuel

    I think this article is misleading

    Longer crank arm supposed to give you “less resistance” not “more resistance” if you could push it. This article is just failed at spelling check . . .

    To make long story short for people who have no idea how crank affect performance

    If you aim to be sprinter = shorter crank arm will give you a little more edge because shorter could spin faster than longer, as we all know, the faster you could spin, the faster speed, this is why track bike usually have shorter crank arm because they don’t have gears

    If you aim to be all rounder/good over all = optimal crank or a bit longer will suit you because its help you push on harder gear easier and you could climb better as well with more torque on the crank arm

    Hope this help clear mess up this article was

  • Samuel Clemens

    I went from 172.5 to 167.5 cranks…actually find those short levers pretty good for high cadence (usually average 90-92).

  • David Simons

    Hmmm, I always thought a longer lever offers less resistance

  • anon

    Sounds like they really like and support him at Astana

  • blemcooper

    Not just oddly inappropriate, but simply wrong or at least incompletely stated/translated.

    Longer cranks reduce the resistance/force required to turn the crank at a given gear ratio. It’s basic physics..

    Of course, that may let you push a bigger gear ratio, which may be what he really means.

  • gh

    Slongo’s theory about longer cranks and resistance seems oddly inappropriate to Nibs’ attacking style, even if it’s not complete tosh.