Bikes of Le Tour: what the ProContinental teams are riding
In this instalment of Bikes of Le Tour, CyclingTips reporter Dave Everett takes a look at the bikes being ridden by the four ProContinental wild card teams at this year’s Tour de France: Bretagne-Seche, IAM Cycling, NetApp-Endura and Cofidis.
The four ProContinetal teams that are lucky enough to get invited to the Tour de France each year usually have one job to do: get as much exposure for their sponsors as possible. The teams are occasionally looked at as the underdogs of the Tour peloton — they get in breakaways for some TV time and then getting dragged back in when the big teams decide to play. They may not win the stage but that four hours of airtime may secure a team’s future.
Then there are the ProContinental teams that have big plans. They have a secure budget and will have riders that can perform or should be able to perform at the highest level. The only difference between these and the likes of Trek Factory Racing or Tinkoff-Saxo is that illustrious WorldTour Licence that is sought after by so many teams.
Bretagne-Seche has been around since 2005 and has managed to attract several experienced riders in its journey from a Continental team to it’s current incarnation. French rider and team leader Brice Feillu is the stand-out name on the roster.
Bretagne-Seche is sponsored by up-and-coming frame manufacture Kemo who came on as bike sponsor this year, and have signed on to supply the team for two years. Previously the team was using the Austrian manufacture KTM as its bike supplier.
The brand is relativity new, started by the brothers who were originally behind the Kuota brand. The small but growing brand has five road models in total with the team using two of these models.
The frames themselves, aren’t anything groundbreaking to look at to my mind, but after a bit of investigating I found that underneath the decals the frames have a little added extra.
This added extra is TeXtreme, a flat layered carbon as opposed to the industry’s usual yarn of fibres. The inclusion of this flat ribbon is supposed to help with weight reduction and stiffness. Because the ribbon is layered and not a compression of fibres there is less resin involved to cure it. Less resin means less weight.
TeXtreme is a material that’s been used throughout the F1 scene for a few years and we are now seeing it trickle its way into other sports from rowing to racquetball. Felt Bikes was the first to include TeXtreme in its line-up back in 2013, with the Argos-Shimano (now Giant-Shimano) testing them in 2012.
Kemo, though, are one of only a handful of bike brands using this material. The weight reduction can be between 20-30% depending on where it is used and how much. The Kemo bikes the team have be spotted on are the KE-R8 model and the KE-R5.
The KE-R8 is the top-end model and features a 100% monocoque construction. The frame has a claimed weight of roughly 760 grams and because a full build of the team bikes initially came in at 6.3kg Kemo beefed up the frames for the team so as to hit the UCI weight limit of 6.8kg.
The team use Shimano Dura Ace components, with the exception of the cranks which come from FSA. FSA also supplies most of the other kit: bars, stem and seat posts.
Wheels are from Vision, FSA’s sister brand. These are made in Italy. Vision has made some huge strides over the past few years in supporting teams and producing some nice kit. They are now a very prolific name in the peloton with an array of their Metron wheels in different depths keeping some of the big names rolling.
Tyres are supplied by Challenge — just like Kemo they aren’t the biggest name in cycling but seem to be making an impact. Selle Italia keep the riders comfortable with many on the SLR model and Look keep them clipped in with their Keo Blade pedals.
Zefal supply bottle cages and bottles, with Polar helping the guys get all the up-to-date ride data they could want. Click here to read more about the new Polar unit that Bretagne-Seche is using.
The second-year Swiss ProContinental team has stuck with as many Swiss sponsors as possible, from the clothing sponsor Cuore to the frame manufacture Scott. Looking at their bikes and kit it’s clear to see that they’re loyal to the team homeland.
Along with Orica-GreenEdge, IAM is the second team that Scott sponsors. Like Orica the team use two road models, the aero Foil and the lighter-weight Addict. The colour scheme of blue, silver and a little dash of red is in keeping with the kit.
Two riders on the team, Sylvain Chavanel and Heinrich Haussler have both been seen dashing about on the brightest bikes in the peloton. The custom fluro orange frame has a graphite style tag on the top tube, showing their nicknames.
The Addict frame and fork weighs in at just under a kilogram combined; the Foil tips the scales at a little more with a frame weight of 880g and 340g for the fork.
As with the clothing and frame, wheels come from the very well renowned swiss manufacture DT Swiss. They are better known for their spokes but the wheelsets they produce look absolutely gorgeous. Top of DT Swiss’s range of wheels is the Spline line. The wheels are named after the hub that is used.
With straight pull spokes and a carbon tubular rim these wheels have been used in anger by the team since 2013. For most days you’ll see the team running either the 38mm or the 55mm depths depending on whether the roads go uphill or if they’re on flat roads. The difference in weight between the two depths is marginal at only 110g. The 38mm come in at 1,310g and the 55g at 1,440g. DT Swiss do make a 28mm version but I’ve not spotted this on any of the bikes.
Even though on the official team’s website it states that Scott’s in-house brand Syncros is a sponsor I could not see any items on the bike from them.
Tubulars are Schwables new One which have only been available a short while to the general public. They now sit at the top of Schwable’s range, above the Ultremo ZX.
Contact points are supplied by Ritchey, with Prologo wrapping the Ritchey bars in their fine Onetouch bar tape. Prologo also provide saddles — each rider has a small national flag on the rear of their saddle which is a nice touch.
Groupset is the ever trustworthy Shimano Dura Ace Di2 — the only slight deviation from the standard setup is the inclusion of an SRM power meter in the cranks and Swiss Stop pads instead of Shimano’s own.
The German outfit is having a great Tour. Stage 13 saw Leopold Konig grab some serious limelight for the team with a third place over the line on the first proper mountainous day. Leopold and his team are sponsored by Fuji bikes.
The team has unveiled the Transonic frame while here at the Tour. This is Fuji’s aero road frame and clearly a lot of thought has been put in to it. Wherever you look the detail seems to stand out. Fuji may not be the biggest name in road cycling but they do have pedigree — the 2011 Vuelta was won on a Fuji by Kobo.
The new frame for the team is again, like a lot of teams, just one bike that they have been using throughout the three weeks. There other is the Altamira, a much more standard-looking bike. There are no flash curves or crazy swoops to any of the tubing shapes — it’s a clean and simple-looking frame. Speaking with Risto Usin, one of the team’s mechanics, he said that many on the team have praise for the handling and performance of both bikes.
The team’s wheels and most of their finishing kit is supplied by Oval, Fuji’s own parts brand. All have been decked out in the team colours and make for one of the most colour-coordinated bikes in the peloton.
The Concept carbon wheels look well put together and saw the guys get across the cobbles without a problem. Risto the mechanic told me that even though the wheels aren’t your big-name brand, that they had had no problems with them bar a few punctures when they took them over the pave of stage 5.
Tyres and tubulars are sponsored by Italian brand Vittoria. And keeping the guys sitting comfortably is Prologo.
Groupset is the ever-present Shimano Dura Ace Di2. Unlike many of the bigger teams a few scrapes and scuffs could be seen on parts — for a ProContinental team simply replacing scuffed parts isn’t a habit that the budget allows.
Cofidis has had a pro team since 1997 but they aren’t as prolific as they used to be. Now a ProContinental team the French setup would have been very unlucky to have missed selection for a wild card place.
Over the years Cofidis has had many bike sensors, from MBK to Decathlon; now the team is racing on the French manufactured Look, a brand better known for its pedals.
The brand’s logo is a homage to Mondial, and the bikes stick with this theme. For all the gloss and matt black carbon in the peloton it’s nice to see a bike brand add a splash of colour. The bold red, yellow and blue reinforce the brands image.
The bikes the team are using are the 695 model. Look is renowned for coming at the design of the bike from a slightly different angle to many. They seem not to be scared to develop new ideas. Thought the team don’t race on the 695 Aerolight with its integrated brakes in the forks and the ZED chainset, the standard 695 Light that the team use still has some interesting features about it.
The seat post is integrated; not a massive surprise, many bikes now come like this. The difference with Look though is the “E-Post”, as they call it, has elastomers in it to help dampen road buzz. This is customisable too as you can change the density of which elastomer you want on the post.
Look has also supplied the stem — the bike is compatible with Look’s own Aerostem, a development from the older C-Stem (some of the bikes still have this model). This allows the rider to tilt and adjust the angle of the stem from -13 degrees to +17 degrees. The stem is also designed to be more aero than a standard stem — they have tucked the securing bolts behind the bars and out the way of the airflow.
Look have long made forks; they used to be the kings of after-market forks along with fellow French manufacture Time. The new HSC 7 fork is a development from the HSC 6. Now a scant 295 grams it’s 16% lighter than the previous model.
Mavic is the team’s wheel sponsor, with most of the team seeming to use the Cosmic Service Course model. Mavic is also the supplier of tyres for the team; to my eye they look a lot like Vittorias. Mavic though have not released information on who they are working with on these, so it’s anybody’s guess.
Keeping with the French theme Zefal supplies bottle cages and bidons to the team; the teams had several different versions of the cages fitted so far. With standard alloy cages for the cobbled stage to a more modern looking carbon version for the rest of the stages.
3T are the bar of choice for the team — this is the only item that is used from 3T as both stem and seat post are Looks own. Selle Italia are yet again saddle sponsor with many of the riders using the new updated SLR model.