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The Tour of Flanders isn’t quite as demanding on bikes and other equipment as Paris-Roubaix, but it’s still a race that demands something a little different to most races on the UCI calendar. CyclingTips’ roving reporter Dave Everett spent some time at the Tour of Flanders startline in Bruges on Sunday to find out what interesting bits of gear the various teams and riders were using at the 99th edition of the race.
One item that has quickly been adopted by many of the teams in the pro peloton is on-board cameras. Velon is pushing for the use of cameras in the sport and eight of the 11 Velon group teams at Flanders were using cameras. Lotto Soudal, Lampre-Merida, Giant-Alpecin, Trek, Tinkoff-Saxo, Cannondale-Garmin, Sky and Orica-GreenEdge are all able to showcase on-bike footage they’ve captured from the race. See, for example, Orica-GreenEdge’s Backstage Pass video from the Tour of Flanders.
On top of this they have shared the footage with race organisers and TV broadcasters for use in the post-race highlights packages.
Every team was using the latest Shimano cameras except Cannondale-Garmin which was using the Garmin Virb. On each team there was typically at least one bike with a forward-facing camera and a second bike with a rear-facing camera mounted under the saddle.
The sight of the unreleased SRAM electronic wireless groupset at Flanders came as a surprise. The only WorldTour team SRAM sponsors this year is Ag2r-La Mondiale. Out of the eight riders on the start line, two — Damien Gaudin and Alexis Gougeard — had bikes kitted up with the wireless system.
All of the shifting components — levers, rear mech and the front mech — all looked like they weren’t far off being ready for release. Logos and a spark-like graphics adorned the components and the finish is as you’d expect from a top-tier groupset.
If SRAM feels that the product is good enough to work and last the duration of a race like Flanders then it may be a large step towards the product hitting the shops. If we see it next week at the Paris-Roubaix startline we’ll know that this outing has been a success.
Over at Cannondale-Garmin Dutch national champion Sebastian Langeveld had a very swish-looking paint job on his Cannondale Synapse. The red, white and blue livery stood out from the rest of the green machines. One notable item was the highly-padded Fizik saddle that Sebastian was using.
Custom graphics continued over at MTN-Qhubeka with Tyler Farrar’s Cervelo. Proudly located on the top tube was a green and white graphic of a totem pole. Veit Hammer, PR and marketing manager at the team, said that the graphic was a homage to Farrar’s home town of Seattle.
Tylar Farrar was also the only rider on the team to be using 3T’s Integra stem, a carbon stem designed to include a Garmin computer mount.
At Lotto Soudal the saddle choice of Marcel Sieberg must have been a sore point with the team’s official sponsor, Prologo. Marcel was clearly riding a new Specialised Power saddle with the logos covered up. When I asked Specialized representative Patrizia Falchero about whether they help supply the item as an unofficial product to the rider, her surprised look said it all. Specialized had not provided the saddle and didn’t even know he was using it.
Over at LottoNL-Jumbo, Sep Vanmarcke had a custom-detailed Bell Star Pro helmet to go with the custom paint job on his Bianchi Infinito CV. The huge name sticker stuck on the front matched the same name logo that sits on the head tube of the bike. It’s not much of a custom job but any extra colour on those yellow helmets can only be a good thing.
Here are some of the other interesting and unusual things we spotted in the pits at the Tour of Flanders.