2016 Tour de France. Stage 18 ITT Megève. GC contenders giving away time with bike set up choices. Why?
Here's the course profile:
Here's a table with the aero choices made by the 20 fastest riders on the day. As far as I can tell all rode using a skin suit (although some of the suits were not exactly a good aero fit). Note - I've updated Mollema's entry a few hours later as he was using a rear disk wheel.
Note: Rodriguez swapped from a time trial bike to a road bike part way along.
This suggests all these riders recognised that aerodynamics still mattered, but not enough that riders thought it worth using some other basic aero kit. Perhaps they felt there was too much of a weight penalty (there's not BTW). Or they did not feel good climbing on a TT bike, or were concerned with the descent? Lack of preparation is my take.
For reference, I used photos from the various websites to work out who used what. For front wheel and helmets, there might be a little debate as to it fits the category of aero or not. Needed to be a full aero TT helmet to count and what looked like low-ish profile wheels went in the "No" category. Always happy to amend if people spot errors.
Richie Porte, with not even an aero front wheel, let alone an aero helmet:
Fabio Aru, not much better:
Contrast with the stage winner Chris Froome who used all the aero aids at his disposal:
Average speeds for the top 20 ranged from 31.5km/h to 33.2km/h. Aerodynamics still matters quite a bit at such speeds. So why not take advantage of it?
Yes it was hilly but the lack of aero equipment choices for a TT even at these speeds does rather bemuse me. Weight penalty of helmets and wheels is negligible and any small benefits are outweighed by aero losses.
More discussion later. Perhaps.