For stage five of the Tour de France, Jumbo-Visma are bringing 20 extra bikes and 60 sets of wheels specifically to deal with the cobblestones sectors set to feature during the race.
Replacing the usual Cervélo S5 frame with a multi-terrain Caledonia 5 frame, Jumbo-Visma have opted for a change of tact following issues at Paris-Roubaix earlier in the year. There both Wout Van Aert's and Christophe Laporte's rear wheels collapsed underneath them, amid a puncture-plagued race on the pavé of northern France.
The team's empty tubular tires were unable to withstand the pressure of the cobbles, something the Belgian outfit are attempting to avoid on stage five of the Tour by switching to tubeless.
“If you drive over loose stones without air in your tire, every rim will break,” Jumbo-Visma mechanic, Dirk van de Ven, told Het Nieuwsblad.
“We opt for other wheels that we have tested. Even without air in the tires, because eventually they also give out under the pressure. But the tests show that with a flat tire you can continue riding on this rim for longer.
“It's slightly longer and gives the riders more comfort. In theory it is not as fast as our other bikes, but the riders can save just a little more energy on the cobblestone sections."
While stage five features just 20km of cobblestones across 11 different sections, Jumbo-Visma are attempting to prepare for every eventuality. When considering that Van Aert is leading on GC by 25 seconds, with both Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič within 41 seconds of the stage four winner, this risk averse approach seems justified.
Team mechanics will also position themselves strategically along the 157km route from Lille to Wallers-Arenberg, in case spare wheels are needed at any point.
This isn't the first time the Jumbo-Visma riders will experience riding on the Caledonia 5 frame either. The team practiced in training with them at the Grand Départ in Denmark, as well as during the rest day on Monday.
"They have already had some time to get used to it during training in Copenhagen and on Monday they also rode it over the cobblestones," Van de Ven added. "So they are prepared for today's ride."
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