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I'm looking at the first stage of the Tour of California, which is on a flat course (around Long Beach, USA).

Since there's no real dénivelé (french, "difference in height"), there is no need for a lot of gears.

So, do pro riders sometimes use 1X configuration on their bikes, either on criterium races or on flat courses, or on flat time trial courses?

2 Answers 2

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Yes, they sometimes do (or at least announce/intend to), here are two examples:

This is the 3T Strada that Aqua Blue Sport will ride in 2018, making the Irish-based squad the first pro cycling team to use a single-chainring drivetrain.

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One ring to rule them all: Tony Martin's Canyon Speedmax 58x11-32 on the world champ's time trial rig

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  • Yes on a TT it is possible since there is a car with back-up wheels and bike behind each rider. On a stage it's not so easy. Even if the team cars carry back-up, on a break-out there would be a neutral car or even motorbike with wheels and that one would have to carry many different types of wheels: 11-speed or 12-speed (some single ring are 12s) rim-brake, disc-brake ...
    – Carel
    May 14, 2018 at 7:41
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    But changing the back wheel does not make a difference if 1X or 2X?
    – Max
    May 14, 2018 at 12:56
  • @Max 1x systems typically use a cassette with a larger range of gears to make up for having only one chain ring. Also, 2x cassettes tend to be 11-speed at the pro level, whereas I think the 1x cassettes are 12-speed. Indexed shifting won't work if you have a 12-speed shifting system with only 11 cogs. Actually changing the wheel is just the same, but the problem is that neutral service might not have the wheel you need, if you're running some non-standard setup. May 14, 2018 at 17:38
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Yes, they (still) do, but as of now (after the end of the 2023 season), it still remains a setup for specific scenarios in road racing: TTs, one-day-races, manageably flat stages or only for certain parts of a course after a bike swap.

Primoz Roglic - Giro'd Italia 2023, Stage 19

He used a 1x setup, using a SRAM XPLR gravel groupset for the final climb of the stage.

Source

Why only for the final climb?

He allegedly had a 44t chainring and 10-44 at the back, so the aim was 1:1 gearing on a long and steep climb to keep him at comfortable cadence in steep parts around 18%. That would not have been possible with his normal setup (52/39, 10-33, might vary from stage to stage) - but, riding the full stage on 1x, he would have missed about 10 kph top end speed getting to the climb, 100 rpm in his highest 44-10 gear are approximately 56 kph, vs. ~70 kph with standard gearing. One of the alleged advantages (less chain drops) did not come into play because he actually dropped his chain on a bump, but that could have been a setup issue with a relatively uncommon configuration and dialed in by mechanics over time and with experience gained.

Any defect could have been fatal as well because neutral service couldn't provide him with a matching wheel.

Jonas Vingegaard, Tour De France 2023, Stage 1

Another example this year was Jonas Vingegaard at the TdF's opening stage, this time using a regular 1x road group set with 50t front and 10-36. It was a "hilly" stage but he sure has taken that into consideration, riding categorized climbs with a 1,39 gear ratio while still having big enough gears for the flat parts.

Source

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