Basic mistake

Cofidis tried a publicity coup on last Wednesday’s Bastille Day stage only it backfired massively. The team were given new Look frames in the Piet Mondrian colours, reminiscent of the manufacturer’s early sponsorship of the Toshiba and ONCE teams.

Only the modern art was undone by a very basic mistake. The bikes were built up but few of the riders tested them before the race started. As a result what was fine on the workstand fell apart under the wattages needed to take part in the opening flurry of attacks at the stage start, when the 11T sprocket is often used for the whole first hour.

Several riders had jumping gears, one had a wobbly headset and forks and another had a creaking bottom bracket that made him want to change bike. As a result most of the Cofidis team missed the racing completely at the start of the stage and all they could salvage was Pauriol’s late move on the final climb.

I don’t know about you but one of the earliest lessons I learned about bike mechanics is that you should never race on a bike that’s come fresh out of a workshop or off the workstand. Instead it always pays to test it with a short ride, complete with an effort or two. Similarly you shouldn’t ride new tyres or brake blocks as these need a moment to wear in, tyres especially are often coated in silicon from the factory moulds and this needs to be worn away. A three kilometre spin, preferably with a hill and sprint finish, should be all you need.

Sadly the attempts to publicise the new frame didn’t work out and the risk is a very nice piece of bike kit becomes associated with mechanical blundering. Above all when you are trying everything to win a stage, this sort of mix-up is quite embarrassing.

2 thoughts on “Basic mistake”

  1. I've always wondered about this.
    I find it amusing, because back in my day as 'regular' bike mechanic, test-riding everything we worked on was standard. I know it could be hard with fans and security, but it still seems ridiculous to hand off a bike that hasn't been test ridden.

  2. Look has form in this – check out the Paris-Nice ITT in 2000. 3 Credit Agricole riders fell and Vaughters crossed the line just before his forks cracked.

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