On a rain soaked day that marked the 100th anniversary of the first World War, the Tour de France saw its first truly decisive stage during the menacing 155.5km run from Ypres to Arenburg Porte du Hainaut, which included seven teeth-rattling cobblestone roads. (Originally there was nine, but organizers removed two particularly tough sections due to safety concerns raised by the wet weather.)
Tops on the list of casualties was defending Tour champion Chris Froome. The Team Sky leader crashed twice early in the race and dropped out, ending his run at a second Tour title. Dozens of other riders also hit the deck on a day that threw the race into chaos. Before the battle kicked off, RoadBikeReview was at the start scooping out the various equipment changes and modifications teams made, hoping to take some of the sting out of this testing day.
In what was the most extreme insurance measure spotted, Europcar team bikes all had extra handlebar mounted brakes so riders could stay on the tops and still have stopping power.
Riders on Team Belkin used a fairly rudimentary method of keeping track of the day’s main obstacles.
Riders on the Bretagne-Séché Environnement team benefited from the extra squish provided by these Challenge Paris Roubaix edition tubular tires.
With most WorldTour bikes coming in under the UCI weight limit, add-ons like this chain catcher on Ted King’s cobbles bike help mechanics stay within the rules. But on days such as stage 5 they’re a necessity anyway.
Tinkoff-Saxo leader Alberto Contador opted to run this ride smoothing Specialized CG-R carbon seatpost atop his Specialized Roubaix bike.
Like most riders, Alberto Contador opted for an extra wrap of bar tape to help cushion the blow of the cobbles.
Apologies for the blurriness, but look close and you’ll see that this team Katusha bike is using a 46-tooth inner chainring. Mechanics we spoke to said that they don’t expect the front derailleur to get used much anyway, so the inner ring is more of a chain catcher than anything else. This gearing set-up was nearly universal across the Tour de France peloton.