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Aqua Blue on the challenge of riding the 3T Strada

Cyclist spoke to Aqua Blue Sport's Larry Warbasse about his team's decision to use the 3T Strada and its future in professional cycling

Joe Robinson
11 Dec 2017

The 3T Strada is the most radical bike release in an awfully long time. 1x specific, only able to run disc brakes and 28mm tyres as standard, the Strada is bucking the trend.

Such a change in the world of cycling is big for a sport so steeped in tradition. That's why it comes as such a big surprise that Irish ProContinental team Aqua Blue Sport will be riding the 3T Strada as of 1st January 2018.

Their embrace of this new bike could be seen as a marketing gimmick to increase buzz around the team but can also be seen as an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, gaining an advantage on the opposition.

Cyclist spoke to Aqua Blue Sport rider Larry Warbasse, American Road Race National Champion about the worries of 1x in pro racing and its future with the cycling elite.

First impressions

Gerard Vroomen, co-founder of Cervelo and creator of the Strada, made it clear that he wanted no compromise between performance and comfort with this bike. That's why 28mm tyres are fitted as standard on this aero-specific bike.

Aero and comfort are usually a compromise in the cycling world, but after six weeks on the bike, Warbasse spoke how the bike is notably fast without being an unbearable ride.

'When I first rode it, I realised how this is really comfortable which is unusual for an aero bike and it is really fast,' Warbasse admitted.

'When you can jump on a bike and notice how fast it is, that's an advantage,' adding, 'It's not like you can feel a bike being faster from just a few watts.'

Disc or die

Choosing the 3T Strada as their bike for 2018 was a big risk for Aqua Blue Sport. As a bike that only caters for discs, you are taking away a choice of callipers brakes that riders would presumably like. 

Discs are also still looked upon with scrutiny by the UCI, with their return to the 'banned' list seemingly only one unfortunate crash away.

Just ask ProContinental team Roompot who in 2016 became the first team to run solely on disc brakes until a crash at Paris-Roubaix saw their use banned. Soon followed a frantic panic from the team to find some rim brake bikes.

Disc brakes are still to be fully accepted by the pro peloton. Despite being available to the majority of the WorldTour, their use will remain in the minority.

Warbasse admitted that he was doubtful about discs but believes this year could be a major shift for the look of road bikes.

'Before, I was sceptical about disc brakes but after using them, I have definitely began to appreciate their greater stopping power,' he confessed.

'The problem with discs previously is that they weren't very aero,' he said, before adding, 'but I think we're getting there. This is specifically designed around discs. 3T took a big risk with this but we could be seeing a start of a shift in the market.'

A numbers game

'There was a lot of hesitation before camp, I will admit,' Warbasse told Cyclist. 'Personally I wasn't concerned about the steep climbs but more the 6% to 8% gradients. That had me worried.'

It would be naive to think that professional riders would accept a change such as taking away the ability to run a double chainset without reservations.

When Warbasse first got the bike, he was riding the standard 11-36 cassette, a gear that he believes is perfect for a flat road or steep incline but not your usual Alpine mountains. 

The team has since been given a 9-32 cassette, that they ride with a 44 tooth front chainring, which the American feels is the perfect gear ration.

'When first riding with the 11-36 cassette I found I was actually fine on the fast, flat roads or steep stuff but not the stuff in the middle.'

Warbasse then added, 'I then switched to the 9-32 cassette that was developed, with a 44 tooth front chainring and by making these smaller steps between gears, it convinced me that it works.'

3T has yet to release a time trial bike, which raises a question behind their sponsorship of Aqua Blue Sport. What happens when the team are racing a time trial? Do they just stick a disc wheel and a pair of ski bars on this road frame?

Will they be forced into using another brand's time trial bike?

The wonderful world of 1x may not be ready for the WorldTour just yet but Aqua Blue Sport and 3T's partnership to bring the Strada to pro races just months after its release tell you of their ambition.

If all goes well next season, and Aqua Blue Sport snatch some big victories, the rise of the 1x, disc specific road bike could be the newest trend for all bike manufacturers and professional teams alike. 

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