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Nairo Quintana says peloton “shouldn’t be using disc brakes”

Colombian says discs are heavier, less aerodynamic and unsafe for use in races

The UCI reintroduced its trial of disc brakes this year and strong feelings remain. Nairo Quintana is the latest to have his say, telling Cycling News that he believes they are heavier, less aerodynamic and dangerous.

The disc brake trial was previously suspended following 2016's Paris-Roubaix, where Movistar rider Fran Ventoso blamed one for a deep cut to his leg sustained during a crash.

"Our bike brand has disc bikes available but in my opinion we shouldn't be using disc brakes,” said Quintana. "Firstly, because they don't actually brake all that well. You hear other riders' bikes in the peloton when the brake rubs up against the rotor. That's one thing. Secondly, it makes the bike less aerodynamic. Thirdly, they're much heavier.

“Lastly, there's the danger they pose in a peloton of more than 100 riders. They are good for a touring cyclist, or a person who goes out riding with two or three others and is more careful, but racing is another matter."

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As a Movistar rider, Quintana rides Canyon bikes. According to our tech editor, David Arthur, the firm concedes that disc brake versions of its bikes are fractionally less aerodynamic.

“Canyon, when it unveiled its complete range of disc-equipped bikes recently, made the statement that the disc brakes give away just 1.5 per cent compared to the rim brake versions, when tested at the power required to maintain 45kph.

“As for weight, Canyon says its disc frames are about 70g heavier, but by the time you add disc calipers and rotors we’re seeing complete bikes come in about 400g heavier than similarly specced disc brake versions. 

“For a professional cyclist obsessed by marginal gains, those differences are hard to ignore. Canyon does point out that the advantages of improved braking control and modulation are significant benefits of disc brakes, and that’s backed up by our own testing. But clearly the demands and requirements of a professional racing cyclist are different to non-racing cyclists.”

As a climber, weight will doubtless be a higher priority for Quintana than many other riders. However, it’s worth pointing out that team mechanics are frequently obliged to add weight to bikes to bring them up to the UCI’s 6.8kg minimum weight requirement.

We reviewed a 6.5kg version of the Ultimate CF SLX that the Colombian will be riding this year, so 400g on top of that could theoretically see Quintana cede 100g to his rivals. The professional cyclists’ association, the CPA, is also pushing for further protective features such as covers to be introduced – which would bring a little more weight. However, we’re inclined to say that 100g or so could easily be offset elsewhere.

Last week, Team Sky’s Owain Doull claimed that the rotor on Marcel Kittel’s bike had cut through his shoe "like a knife". Overhead footage of the crash suggested there was no contact between Doull and Kittel’s bike, but the German chose not to ride with disc brakes the following day, “out of respect for colleagues.”

Disc brakes are now required to have rounded edges to reduce the risk of injury, but the CPA has said that most of its members remain opposed to the technology in its current form – hence the suggestion that covers be introduced.

As much as anything, it seems that Quintana is simply happy with what he’s already got. "There is no problem with the brakes that we currently have – they work very well. No one has ever had any sort of complaint. They're lighter, and you have a much better feel."

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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