The easier way up Zoncolan: Millar's 36 sprocket

"We're not mountain bikers, we're road riders," said David Millar when I went to see him this morning for a discussion about the removal of the Monte Crostis climb from the Giro.

But looking at his bike leaned up outside the Garmin-Cervelo team bus afterwards, you couldn't be so sure.

While the rest of his team mates had bikes fitted with compact 36 tooth inner chain rings for today's finishing ascent up Monte Zoncolan, Millar's Cervelo was fitted with the same number of teeth on his largest rear sprocket.

The massive cog, lifted straight from a mountain bike, was the cause of much amusement to Millar's team mate Matt Wilson.

"Have you seen that?" he asked Cameron Meyer. "That's just ridiculous."

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Like all his other team mates, Wilson's bike was fitted with a sizeable enough 11-32 cassette. Combined with the compact chainset, that would give them a low enough gear to reasonably tackle the maximum gradients of 22% on the Zoncolan's 10km slopes.

But as Garmin Mechanic Kris Withington explained, Millar's bike had to be fitted with a SRAM 11-36 mountain bike cassette because he uses elliptical chainrings. The type Garmin use don't come in compact format and only go down to a minimum size of 38 teeth.

"It's the first time we've done this," explained Withington. "I do a lot of mountain biking and just had the idea last week."

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To accommodate the massive sprocket, Millar's bike also had to be fitted with a top of the range SRAM XX mountain bike rear derailleur.

Millar was delighted when he emerged from the bus to see Withington's installation for the first time.

"Look at that," he exclaimed.

One quick spin around the car park in the tiny gear, and Millar was even more convinced.

"Thanks Kris, this is great" he said as he span off to the start and pressumably a day in the saddle that will prove to be just that little bit more managable.

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