A tiny detail for today but sometimes that’s what the Inner Ring is all about. French teams take longer to change wheels in the event of a front wheel puncture than other teams.
It’s because French law requires all bikes, including those taking part in a race, to keep the so-called “lawyers lips” on the fork drop outs. These tiny tabs on the end of the forks stop a wheel popping out in case the quick-release skewer comes undone and you have to unscrew the skewer a few turns to open it. A not-so quick release.
Consequently many riders file them down, including almost every pro team.. except the French ones. Once these tabs are removed, a punctured front wheel can be removed in two seconds and the new one can be put in place and the skewer clamped in place within a few more seconds. Done right, a front wheel change happens in less than 10 seconds. But the French team mechanics have to undo the skewer, unscrew and above all, screw the new wheel in place before clamping the quick release. With practice the time penalty is hardly noticeable but it exists. The next time you see a mechanic toying with a front wheel on a French team, you know why.