An interesting situation happened to Alex Howes who at one point had problems with his bike, and had to swap his bike for a mysterious Shiman machine "I think that’s the first time I’ve ridden a neutral bike in my decade as a professional rider, so I get to check that off the list I guess," Howes told Cyclingnews.
"I felt like I was a kid riding my dad’s bike or something. The saddle was pretty high and the bars were pretty wide. Everything was pretty off but I was certainly thankful to have it when I did. "In a funny way it was almost nice; when you get deep into a race, especially when you’ve been curled up in the same position in the breakaway the whole time, it’s almost like getting a whole new body – like what are these muscles I haven’t used for years?!” "There was a quick release bolt and initially I didn’t do anything because it was close enough but it did slip quite a lot, almost all the way to the top tube, so I had to open that up and raise the saddle back up.
Then it dropped again, so I ended up doing that a couple of times."
It was a strange decision to call for neutral support but the answer lies in the pandemic. There used to be two cars with one directeurs, but now the situation is different and only one car has the right to be on the track "In my mind it’s best to have them in one car, rather than two.
One guy can drive and the other can actually think about the race. It makes it safer for them and for the riders, and I think they get better tactical decisions out of it as well," Howes said. "On the fly, you have to make that decision of whether to follow me in the breakaway – and you probably have to go back to pre-War days to find someone who won Flèche from a breakaway – or stay behind the peloton with our leaders."
"In the end, we had the issue upfront but in a pretty dangerous race like Flèche you’re almost guaranteed to need the car in the peloton." Howes ditched his surrogate frame and appeared on Cannondale.
The bike was handed over by Shimano, which may speak in favor of the fact they have gone back to EF's peloton car "If I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure how they got it," Howes said. "I think it came from the bus.
I think the mechanics at the bus saw what happened, bee-lined it and met the Shimano team somewhere out on course. That’s how I understood it. I’m still trying to work out myself how it all happened. "I don’t think it was my direct spare that was on the roof of the team car.
It was my bike but I think it was the first time I’ve ridden that one. The position wasn’t quite where I thought it should be, but it was fine."