The Rider Side:  No Extra Bar Tape –– A quick Q&A with Martin Elmiger

IAM Cycling’s Martin Elmiger rode to an impressive 5th place finish in his 10th time on the cobbles at this year’s Paris-Roubaix---his best placing to date. A pro for 15 years, the multi-time Swiss national champion sat down with us for a few questions the day after one of the most punishing races in the world.

How are you after 254 kilometers and 57 kilometers of pave? Well, I'm already back at home in sunny Switzerland and I can relax and enjoy good success here.

What do you feel the most? My hands certainly, in the end I had always cramping and one tries to somehow hold on the handlebars. My clothes I could hardly take off alone, because my hands would clench into fists again and again. The back you can feel naturally after so many punches, a bit more than usual.

How long have you been racing? I've been racing since 1991 in the Student class. For 15 years, I have been a professional, and at 37, now I’m one of the old rabbits. In the beginning, I was also active on a mountain bike and made it to the national team. I always enjoy the change to my mountain bike. The ideal terrain for freeriding is right outside the front door.

How long have you ridden for IAM? For three years now, since the team started. How many times have you done Paris Roubaix? Ten times, and without any heavy falls or defects, everything has worked out this time. The bike worked perfectly and I was in the right group.

Have you experienced massive bike or component failure in the past? No, fortunately, I have never seen a frame, handlebars or stem broken.

Have your bikes been specially prepared for the cobbles? We have Scott Addict frames for the harsh spring classics, which I'm riding, but also throughout the year. (Laughs) You will not get younger and it is very comfortable. For Roubaix we even get a special Addict with a slightly more comfortable rear end. The wheels are encased in 30mm tires. For saddle and handlebar geometry I go with what I always ride---no extra handlebar tape, no additional brake lever.

No extra bar tape? No, I ride with 4.8 bar (70psi) front and 5.2 (75psi) rear. This is always a balancing act between comfort and rolling resistance. The first 100 kilometers of asphalt I ride at this pressure, then I'm just off the bike and I let out 0.2 bar front and rear. All tip-top. Some racers switch the whole machine, they start with 23mm tires and change to 30mm. To me, that is too stressful.

Is there a comfortable position on the handlebars for you? In this race, I constantly change the conductor positions. One position for the relief of the hands, the other positions depend on the racing situation and position in the field. Since I've joined the IAM team, I always get the same handlebar, Ritchey WCS EvoCurve, 44cm wide. It is comfortable and you have a good grip. I always find a comfortable and safe position. This is important to me.

What was the key to success in your tenth Paris-Roubaix? Firstly the bike. Everything is kept together very well, I felt, despite the hardships on the wheels. In addition, despite my age and experience, I tried new forms of training with the IAM team coach. Doing more short interval blocks paid off for Roubaix. The new training with Marcello Albasini got me motivated again to race like a young fox.