Compact Cranksets in the Pro Peloton

tyler_hamiltonWhile most pro racers are not jumping completely to a compact setup, many domestiques are taking advantage of higher cadences and smaller gears to stay fresh after long pulls up hard mountain stages.

The use of the compact crankset among high-profile riders can be traced back to American rider Tyler Hamilton in the 2003 Tour De France. After a crash in which his collarbone was broken, many thought Hamilton would not finish the tour. There were huge mountain stages to come and climbing out of the saddle would no doubt put massive stress on his injured shoulder. However, team sponsor FSA (one of the largest manufacturers of compact cranksets) outfitted Hamilton's bike with a special 52/36 crank that allowed him to tackle the big climbs seated, thus allowing time for him to recover from his fall and eventually take a stage win for team CSC.

The days of pro riders using the same bike for every stage during a grand tour are over. These days, teams are supplying riders with bikes, wheelsets and components that are chosen specifically to address the challenges of individual routes. While you probably won’t see big strong riders using compact cranksets for moderately hilly rides, it is likely that you’ll see team domestiques and maybe some team leaders using the smaller gearing during challenging mountain stages.

Read more about Tyler Hamilton's 2003 Tour performance in this Cycling News Article.