Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) talked as fast as he descended the Poggio after his Milan-San Remo victory, overjoyed how his secret plan to use a MTB-style dropper seatpost had worked and helped him gain seconds on the technical descent precious so that he could stay away and win the Italian Monument.
Mohorič is one of the best descenders in the peloton and made the supertuck aero position so popular that the UCI eventually banned it. Now he has changed descending and the sport again, perhaps forever.
“I knew it was a one in a lifetime chance and I wanted to make it work for the team and technical partners who had the idea,” Mohorič said post race, revealing how he even teased his Milan-San Remo rivals during the race.
I was going to the race favorites. I know and showing off the dropper. They asked me what I was doing with a dropper and laughed but I warned them that if they follow me on descent, it’s at their own risk.
“I destroyed cycling once with the super-tuck, now I’ve destroyed cycling again. Now I think everyone will start to use dropper posts. It’ll be one more thing to think about on the bike. It’ll be like Formula 1. There was just the gas and brake pedals, now they have hundreds of buttons.”
Mohorič explained how he developed the dropper post with his Bahrain Victorious team, and bike sponsor Merida.
More common among the mountain bike scene, a dropper post is the term used to describe a seatpost that can be raised and lowered quickly, usually via a cable-actuated remote positioned on the handlebars.
This drop can come in varying lengths, called stroke length. Some can be dropped in excess of 200mm, but in Mohorič’s case, it appears there was around 50 to 70mm of travel.
The benefits of a dropper post might seem minimal, but as any mountain biker will tell you, the ability to get the saddle down and out of the way allows for a great deal more manoeuvrability of the bike. There’s undoubtedly a secondary benefit of a lower center of gravity too.
Despite Bahrain Victorious sponsor FSA making a dropper post of its own, the post in use by Mohorič was a sponsor-incorrect choice of the Fox Transfer SL Performance Elite. This is touted by Fox as the lightest mainstream dropper on the market, and is marketed to lightweight cross-country and gravel bike use, available with a drop-bar remote, which it appears Mohorič’s mechanics chose not to use.
The decision to run a dropper post at all was made possible thanks to the fortunate decision by bike sponsor Merida to spec its Scultura race bike with a traditional round seatpost. It’s a decision that flies in the face of competitors’ recent trend towards more aero and compliant D shaped seatposts, but one that has benefitted Mohoric greatly on this occasion.
“Due to the UCI rules we had to use a dropper that was on the market and so went for a MTB model,” Mohorič explained happily.
“We tested a 12cm dropper but that was too much and meant the pedalling wasn’t efficient anymore, so we opted for a 6cm device. I had a grip shift on the bars and lowered and lifted it several times on the descent of the Poggio” .
“People have long dismissed the idea of using dropper posts but the technology is more advanced now and they don’t weigh much more than a regular seatpost. Maybe next year all the bikes will be available with a dropper. It’s safe in traffic too and so in training. You can brake better.
Mohorič learned to descend while growing up with his childhood friends in Slovenia, riding mountain bikes on trails and technical descents to test his limits.
He almost crashed twice during the descent of the Poggio but had the bike skills to stay upright.
He crashed hard with Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) at Strade Bianche, hurting his knee, but knew the dropper post could give the opportunity of a lifetime if he could hold onto his fitness and recover. He combined his fitness, bike skills and the marginal bike gain of a dropper post to win Milan-San Remo.
“I wasn’t the most gifted descender amongst my friends but I pushed my limits and I learned quickly and from mistakes,” he said.
“I was more persistent on the road and more gifted at climbing and so managed to turn pro. But I never forgot my childhood lessons for descending and for finding my limits.
“Indeed, I know where my limits are. I can feel the slipping point and if it happens I can react to correct it. There were a couple of times I felt the bike on the Poggio and even lost some seconds because of it but fortunately I didn’t crash. That would have looked stupid as I was about to win Milan-San Remo.”