In the races I've watched, occasionally a rider who has suffered a mechanical will be given a neutral service bike to continue racing on. I always wonder if this does any good because the rider never seems to make it back onto the peleton or breakaway group.
This article from bicycling.com says:
Generally, the rider will stay on the neutral service bike for only a few miles before pulling over in a better spot and exchanging it for a team-supplied spare with the correct fit coordinates.
I've never noticed this happening, but that may be because I mostly watch women's racing, and maybe they don't have as many team spare bikes at the ready as the men? Nor have I ever noticed anyone crossing the finish line on a neutral service bike (although I'm sure that does happen).
My question can be answered with the following: has a rider on a neutral service bike ever gotten a top-10 result or been able to sufficiently perform domestique duties, directly assisting a team member in getting a top-10 result?
In my research, I found two interesting incidents in which the service bikes were unhelpful:
- Fabio Aru "couldn't really pedal" because of a high seat
- Chris Froome's neutral service bike had Look pedals instead of Shimano
Note: since I'm new to cyling, I've probably made some incorrect assumptions here. Please feel free to correct any of them