How Tadej Pogačar won Tour de France switching between disc and rim brakes: 'It's all about the weight'

The Slovenian alternates between braking technologies depending on the weight, rather than the weather

Tadej Pogacar
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tadej Pogačar has revealed that he switches between disc brakes and rim brakes for races, depending on the weight of his bike, rather than the weather conditions.

This season the Slovenian has regularly alternated between the two technologies, opting for both at different times with a seamless transition. The 23-year-old preferred using disc brakes for the final flat stages of his Tour de France victory, but also utilised a rim brake bike to win the mountain-top Pyrenean stage to Saint-Lary-Soulan in the dry. 

The UAE Team Emirates rider's time trial bike features rim brakes too, which he used at the Tokyo Olympics, before swapping back to disc brakes at the World Championships.

For Pogačar, the weight of his bike is of paramount importance, giving reason as to why he switches so frequently between set-ups. 

"The weight is important because on the climbs it is the strength to weight ratio of watts/kilogramme that decides things," Pogačar told BiciPro.

"That's especially important for me because I'm not the lightest rider in the peloton. The weight difference of about 300 grams is quite a lot. I focus on the details and that's one reason why I opt for lace-up shoes from DMT. Back at the 2019 Vuelta I was the only rider using them, now a lot more use them. They're super light."

Despite most teams and riders in the peloton moving to disc brakes bikes in recent years, the extra 300 grams of the technology is enough for Pogačar to choose a lighter rim-brake set-up. With the UCI requiring a minimum weight limit of 6.8kg for race bikes, the Slovenian realises that getting as close as possible to that weight improves his chances of winning. 

The weather also doesn't influence Pogačar's thinking when opting for his preferred bike, as he claims that he is just as comfortable using both.

"I'm happy to use both disc brakes and rim brakes. I opted for rim brakes at Il Lombardia because there were two two steep climbs in the finale, where I was perhaps going to make an attack. I realised that lightweight wheels would be important and they're the lightest with rim brakes.

"The weather doesn't really affect my choice of brakes, I'm happy with both in the rain. For me, it's all about the weight."

While there is a difference in feel and technology between the rim and disc brakes, Pogačar explained how he is able to quickly adapt to whichever bike he chooses.

"There's a difference but switching is not a problem for me," he said. 

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"I've got a disc-brake bike at my home in Slovenia and a rim-brake bike in Monaco and instinctively switch between them. The important thing is to remember which one you're using but it only takes two lulls on the levers to get a feel for them and I'm fine."