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The accepted answer to this question states that

The focus is on the riders, because the bikes are just not so different from one another. The UCI (international cyclists' union) tightly regulates what shape and weight the bike must be, and what technical solutions are acceptable, so the sponsoring manufacturers can only compete on relatively minor features such as aerodynamic tubing or frame stiffness. These are of no practical importance to an everyday cyclist.

either Campagnolo Super Record, Shimano Dura Ace, or SRAM Red component set, depending on who's the sponsor

Within these restrictions, is it possible to change a bike's gearing to better suit the terrain of a specific stage (flat, hilly, mountain etc)? And do teams do this?

Or do teams have no choice in what gearing is allowed?

I know that the time trial bikes seem to completely different from the standard bikes, and I assume that they are set up specifically for that type of stage.

2 Answers 2

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Pros can and do change gearing for any reason they want to - terrain, rain, wind, phase of the moon. It wouldn't even surprise me if they change gears based on inputs from doctors/sports physiologists: "We analyzed your data from yesterday's stage, and today we think you'd do better with a 50/34 and an 11-32".

They'll even change the crankset to a compact 50/34 if they feel it's necessary, to the point they even used to change groupsets for mountain stages when the top-of-the-line groupsets like SRAM Red and Shimano DuraAce didn't offer lower gears: Giro tech: Contador goes Apex

And you can credit Contador's gear changes that he did for training for and the actual the mountain stages of the 2008 Giro for the existence of such gearing in the first place: RBA EXCLUSIVE: The Real Story Behind Sram’s Apex Drivetrain. He won the race.

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  • The first sentence of the third paragraph seems to have some words out of their proper places. Jun 26, 2023 at 16:29
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Yes, they have choice. All three component groups you mentioned have a range of different chainring and cassette options and nothing in the rules prevents using components from a different manufacturer with even more choice.

Edit: The following has been updated: Some age groups for young riders used to have limit for maximum great ratio. The rule has been removed, and TdF does not have those.

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  • 1
    Some age groups for young riders have limit for maximum great ratio Not any more: UCI scraps restricted gearing for junior racers Jun 24, 2023 at 20:38
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    But do they change the gearing for individual stages?
    – Peter M
    Jun 24, 2023 at 20:48
  • @AndrewHenle: thanks for the info, that was new!
    – ojs
    Jun 25, 2023 at 6:28
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    Do they change the gearing during a stage - for example with a quick rear wheel swap? Jun 25, 2023 at 22:43
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    @JeremyBoden In that video I think weight was the primary reason for the bike change before the climb. I think modern bikes have enough gear range anyway. It would seem weird to me if a TdF rider did a wheel swap before a climb just because he didn't have a low enough gear for that climb. They would think about it before the race starts.
    – Robert
    Jun 25, 2023 at 23:51

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