Chris Froome had a bad day during Stage 5 of the Tour du Rwanda last week. Not one flat, but two. Then he crashed into the back of a team car. None of which is ideal when you’re in a solo breakaway for the stage win.
After the dust had settled, Froome wasted no time using social media to creatively vent his feelings by posting a (humorous?) reel on his Instagram feed showing what appears to be a couple of painfully slow wheel changes by race mechanics.
Froome makes no mystery of what he blames for the lengthy swaps: disc brakes. “Rim brakes > Disc brakes ,” he wrote in the caption.
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Were the wheel changes really that slow?
As a former pro mechanic who held a USA Cycling Race Mechanics license for a while, I can tell you from first hand experience that the mechanics at the WorldTour level are the equivalent of Formula 1 mechanics. At this level, a “fast wheel change” is quantified in seconds, and a wheel change that takes less than twenty seconds—from start to finish—is considered pretty quick.
Froome’s experience in the Tour du Rwanda illustrates the impact even a few additional seconds can have on an athlete’s performance and results. Disc brakes, for a variety of reasons, can be a factor that adds precious seconds to the time a rider is stuck on the side of the road. In Froome’s case, he seems to believe that the race mechs were part of what cost him the stage, according to Road.cc.
“I got a front wheel puncture and I didn’t have a team car behind me as they had already pulled the team car out,” after the stage. “I managed to get another wheel from neutral service but it wasn’t really compatible with the bike so I had to stop again and change it with my team car. Then the peloton caught me and surged over the top of the climb and that’s where the lights went out for me.”
This is the moment we see at the end of the video—the peloton surging over the top of the hill like a single, angry organism, and we can’t help but feel for Froome as it happens, standing on the side of the road, helplessly staring down at the mechanic.
The uptempo of the EDM beat Froome paired with his video makes it seem like he’s at least trying having a sense of humor about it.
Natascha Grief got her first bike shop job before she was old enough to drink. After a six-year stint as a mechanic, earning a couple pro-mechanic certifications and her USA Cycling Race Mechanics license, she became obsessed with framebuilding and decided she wanted to do that next. After Albert Eistentraut literally shooed her off his doorstep, admonishing that if she pursued framebuilding she will be poor forever, she landed an apprenticeship with framebuilder Brent Steelman in her hometown of Redwood City, CA. After that, she spent several years working for both large and not-so-large cycling brands. Somewhere in there she also became a certified bike fitter. Natascha then became a certified personal trainer and spent nine years honing her skills as a trainer and coach, while also teaching Spin. During the dumpster fire that was the year 2020, she opened a fitness studio and began contributing regularly to Runner’s World and Bicycling as a freelance writer. In 2022, she joined the staff of Bicycling as News Editor.