The materials for the Tour: even a lighter saddle can make a difference			© The Cervélo P5 from Wout van Aert

The materials for the Tour: even a lighter saddle can make a difference

A renewed aero bike. A TT-bike with even faster wheels. A modified time trial suit. And three different helmets with an optimised fit and better aerodynamic performance and ventilation. These are just some of the materials on the Team Jumbo-Visma packing list for the 2022 Tour de France.

The Team Jumbo-Visma World Tour riders have at least four types of bikes. Each model has specific properties. The R5, for example, is the ultimate climbing bike. It is the lightest bike in the range, very suitable for mountain stages. The S5 performs well on flat terrain and on hills. Time trials are ridden on the aerodynamic P5 and the cobbled roads - around Roubaix, for example - are conquered on the Caledonia, which offers a lot of stability and comfort, especially on a technical course.

The similarity between these bikes is that they are black Cervélo's, with a yellow front fork. They are continuously tested and improved, which keeps Jenco Drost busy full-time. As Head of Performance Equipment at Team Jumbo-Visma, he advises on the best technical choices. He is co-responsible for the materials used within the team and was also closely involved in the Tour de France preparations.

			© The Cervélo R5
			© Details of the Cervélo R5
© The Cervélo R5
© Details of the Cervélo R5

Together with Head of Performance Mathieu Heijboer and Tour coaches and mechanics, Drost made concrete plans for the materials to be taken along and the bikes' set-ups in April. It resulted in a detailed plan describing what type of bikes, wheels, saddles and tyre pressure will be used for each rider and stage.

"We map out all the data. What will each stage's course look like, which riders will start, and what will the race strategy be? All those factors influence our choice for the type of bikes and ideally the set-up", Drost said. "A leader who has to finish the job in an uphill sprint is better off on the light R5, while a rider who has to perform in the first hundred kilometres rides the S5. It's really about grams, especially in mountain stages. A saddle that is thirty grams lighter, a handlebar that weighs twenty grams less. Everything adds up and in the end even those small choices make a big difference."

"Even a thirty grams lighter saddle can make a difference"

Jenco Drost, Head of Performance Equipment

Mechanics spent the entire month of June building the bikes. "During the Tour they have the important daily task of having the right bike ready in excellent condition for the riders", Drost continued. "The plan we wrote at the 'drawing board' was our guide."

All World Tour teams strive to use the best equipment, the most comfortable clothing and the latest techniques, but few teams employ an expert. Drost's function within Team Jumbo-Visma is, therefore, quite extraordinary. "We are constantly innovating. The developments go fast. Some steps seem small, but the final result is significant."

"This is evident from the fact that riders are cycling faster and faster and world records continue to be broken. As soon as we see optimisation opportunities, we get to work. We work closely with our partners, such as Cervélo and Lazer. Sharing knowledge is important. As a cycling team, we use the bikes intensively and set high standards. Our feedback is therefore valuable for a manufacturer. On the other hand the manufacturer is also constantly developing new materials. So we can learn and benefit from each other."


As Head of Performance Equipment, Drost relies on feedback from the field - from mechanics and riders- and research results. The well-known wind tunnel tests (at the Technical University in Eindhoven) provide valuable insights.

Drost: "We test with the riders, but we also use dummies for these tests. We use true-to-life models from Primoz Roglic and Wout van Aert to determine the best bicycle set-up. This allows us to test endlessly without taking up the riders' time. We can also test the use of time trial clothing and helmets in the wind tunnel. The latter we do with the riders, by the way."

All research data are used to make material improvements. Drost: "The P5 (the time trial bike) is even faster this year by equipping it with other wheels. The S5 (the aero bike) has been completely renewed, and all road bikes are equipped with an even better groupset this year. The helmets - all by Lazer - have also been updated. The new aero helmet, the Lazer Vento, has been improved in all areas. It's more aerodynamic, ventilates better so it can be worn more often and the helmet has been made even safer."


Technology is developing rapidly and today's bikes are faster than ever. Won't they sooner or later reach the limits of what is possible? Drost does not think that will ever happen. "There is always something that can be further improved. Look at F1 cars. What is considered optimal today is outdated tomorrow. So we will always look for opportunities and strive for the best."

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