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Mavic neutral service bikes running dropper posts for the 2017 Tour de France

Joseph Delves
3 Jul 2017

More bikes and adjustable seatposts mean no rider should be left stranded at the Tour de France

Neutral service bikes are the last resort for riders stranded with serious mechanical problems and out of range of their team car. Providing service to any competitor, irrespective of what team they’re on, the bikes are supplied by the race organisers and sponsored by French brand Mavic.

However, as anyone who remembers watching Chris Froome run up Mont Ventoux during the 2016 Tour de France will know, fitting one to the specific rider in need is not always straightforward.

With at least three types of pedal in use among the peloton and riders varying in height from diminutive climbers like Nairo Quntana (5ft 5in) to rangey breakaway specialist like Taylor Phinney (6ft 5in), accommodating all of them is a difficult task.

The sight of the yellow jersey running up a mountain having failed to get rolling on one of the neutral service bikes probably helped motivate the recent overhaul.

Chief among the changes to the neutral service system is a doubling of the number of bikes carried by the cars, from three to six.

Under their custom yellow paint the bikes are standard Canyon Ultimate CF SL models. Three of these will also now be fitted with custom made dropper posts to quickly and efficiently match the bike to its rider.

'These custom posts are one-offs based on the KS LEV Integra 27.2 platform, and have 65mm of travel. They weigh 453 grams,' explained a Mavic spokesperson.

'On the roof of each car we will have three bikes with the dropper posts and we will have the three most popular pedal choices on the bikes.

'The objective is to get the rider on the bike as quickly as possible and then pull the car alongside to help with the saddle adjustment if needed.'

With a lever under the saddle allowing it to move up or down this should only take seconds.

The remaining bikes without dropper posts will be set up to the exact specifications of the three top riders at the start of that day’s stage, allowing them to hop straight on without the need for any adjustment.

This means there should be no repeat of the Ventoux incident.

With each car also carrying a range of spare wheels, the next big challenge for the neutral service mechanics is likely to be the introduction of disc brakes further complicating their job.

However, for now a mechanical is less likely to affect the podium positions than it was in the past.

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