AMIENS, France – Sunday’s stage nine of the Tour de France has been the most talked-about, and most feared, day of the race. On the nearly 100-mile stage in northern France the riders will tackle 13.5 miles of punishing cobblestones. It promises to be can’t-miss racing.
The tricky bit is that most of the riders looking to win the Tour overall almost never ride the cobbles, so everyone will be watching the likes of Team Sky’s Chris Froome, EF Education First-Drapac’s Rigoberto Urán, and AG2R-La Mondiale’s Romain Bardet, among other favorites, to see how they handle cycling’s most feared roads.
Dedicated to helping Urán get through the stage safely and quickly are Colorado’s Taylor Phinney and his fellow EF-Drapac teammates. Urán looks to be in good hands: Phinney rode to eighth in April’s Paris-Roubaix, two places behind teammate Sep Vanmarcke of Belgium, in a race with many more miles of brutal cobbles, seen here:
Two in the top ten. It wasn't our aim at #ParisRoubaix but it made for an exciting finale for #PinkArgyle fans. The excitement, even then, was tempered by what we knew about Michael Goolaerts' condition. The worst was confirmed late Sunday night, and when we look back on the cobbled classics season now, it's with a heavy heart. We may be competitors on the road, but when the races end, we're all one family, and we're deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our own.
The US-registered team has special bikes built up for Sunday, too, including Phinney’s Synapse. See the photos below:
This is Phinney’s main race bike for Sunday. It’s the Cannondale Synapse, the company’s most compliant and forgiving road bike.
At 6-foot-5 and 187 pounds, Phinney rides a big, 60 cm frame.
Distinctive features are the wider tires and lower tire pressure, which make riding over rough cobbles a little less hellish.
The team will be riding the 30-mm-wide Vittoria Corsa Control tubular tires at lower pressures for greater comfort and control.
Phinney’s bike has hydraulic disc brakes that provide greater stopping power than traditional rim brakes.
Phinney rides 150 mm stem, among the longest in the race. They help him stretch out into a more aero position.
The thick, comfy bar tape offers a lot of grip, which should come in handy on the treacherous farm roads.
Phinney’s handlebar has big drops for when he needs to really light things up.
On Sunday, Phinney will ride with his Garmin computer, which will sit in his out-front handlebar mount.
With a glance at this stem, Phinney will know exactly at which kilometer he can expect the next cobbled sector.
Phinney is opting for big gears to hammer the cobbles.
Up front he’s going with big 53-44 chainrings.
The EF-Drapac team rides Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 electronic-shifting system.
Phinney and Co. will have their work cut out for them on Sunday.