Oct 4, 2021

The winner’s bike at Paris-Roubaix

Due to its many and extremely rough cobbelstone sectors, Paris-Roubaix is widely considered as cycling’s true acid test for both riders and their equipment. After almost 20 years of racing in the dry, the Classic was contested in the rain again this year - and Sonny Colbrelli rode to a much celebrated victory on his MERIDA BIKES REACTO. The modifications made to his bike to safely cope with mud puddles and cobbled sectors are surprisingly subtle.

Of the total distance of 257.7 kilometers between Compiègne and Roubaix, 55 kilometers were ridden on cobbled sectors this year. And since the rain had started falling heavily on Saturday in the Northeast of France, riders were facing particularly harsh conditions on race day, taking to the start in full rain gear. Six hours later Sonny Colbrelli was the strongest and most cunning rider in a three-man sprint in Roubaix’s Velodrome, crowing an already stellar 2021 season with his first win in one of cycling’s monuments. On his way to victory, the 31 year-old European champion was riding MERIDA BIKES’ REACTO aero road bike that had only seen a few modifications.

To conquer the Hell of the North, Sonny Colbrelli opted for the aerodynamic REACTO model, combined with the Metron 55 wheels from team supplier Vision that feature deep-section rims for better aerodynamics at high speeds as well. For the best possible combination of traction and puncture protection on the cobbled sectors, the team mechanics mounted Continental’s brand-new GP5000S TR tyres. With a generous width of 32 millimeters, these tyres offer plenty of volume, comfort and safety. Thanks to the tubeless build with added sealant the air pressure could be lowered without having to fight additional rolling resistance.

Apart from Marco Haller all riders of TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS opted to ride a conventional combination of dropbars and stems from FSA at Paris-Roubaix. The main reason for this is that the cross section of conventional handlebars offers a safer grip on the roughest cobblestones than the flattened, wing-shaped cross section of FSA’s one-piece Metron 5D unit. Sonny was using FSA’s K-Force Compact Carbon dropbars mounted to an alloy ACR stem.

To minimise fatigue in the hands and lower arms, team mechanics put two layers of Prologo handlebar tape on the cross section of the handlebar, with a single layer in the drops and the bends. Apart from the adjusted gearing - Colbrelli opted for an 11-25 cassette and cranks with a 54/42 ratio - there were no changes made to the electronic Di2 shifting or the hydraulic disc brakes from Shimano’s Dura-Ace groupset. The same goes for Prologo’s Nago C3 saddle that is Sonny’s choice throughout the year. Thus the Italian rode a REACTO to this great victory that only differs in minor details from MERIDA BIKES’ standard top-of-the-line offering.

Images: Bettini Photo, Merida Europe, Team Bahrain Victorious