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by David Rome and Simone Giuliani
March 16, 2017
Photography by David Rome
WOMEN'S CYCLING BROUGHT TO YOU BY ORBEA
A new year of racing is well underway, and a new year usually means new bikes and components. From Carlee Taylor’s Italian-made Cipollini to the simple clean lines of Peta Mullens’ American-made HIA Velo or the high-tech Trek ridden by Alice Barnes lets have a look at some of the bikes that we’ll see in the women’s pro-peloton this year.
Carlee Taylor rides a Cipollini NK1K, an Italian-made aero-road frame. Like most other frames being used in the women’s pro peloton this is not gender-specific but rather is available in a huge range of sizes, as low as XXS. Despite its aerodynamic intentions, this frame features a geometry that’s slightly more relaxed than Cipollini frames of past, offering a shorter reach and taller stack. The rest of the bike follows a similar Italian theme to the frame, with race wheels from Ursus, drivetrain from Campagnolo, cockpit from Deda and saddle from Selle Italia.
And just in case there weren’t enough Italian components on show, Taylor and the team use Italian D.M.T shoes. The shoes of the Australian are a new model which feature a single retention dial that winds a single wire that runs loops around the entire foot, including going through the sole. It’s certainly a unique design.
Carlee Taylor, Ale-Cipollini
Carlee Taylor’s, Cipollini
THE RIDER’S TAKE
Favourite feature: “The stiffness of the bike. The rear triangle is all one piece of carbon, which makes it more responsive. Even with ‘climber’ legs, I could tell as soon as I hopped on the bike,” Taylor told Ella CyclingTips.
The Selle Italia saddle too, has quickly become a new favourite, chosen based on a fit that included pelvic rotation and sit bone measurement. “I’m not one to ever really complain about my saddle but I didn’t realise the role behind bigger seat cut outs compared to smaller cut outs, or seats with no cut outs,” said Taylor. “Having been fitted, I’ve actually been a lot more comfortable on the bike.”
What I couldn’t do without: “The power2max cranks are a feature I couldn’t live with out. I’m a data junkie, for those who don’t know me, and most of my training is at specific power zones. It’s always a worrying moment when changing powermeters, and not knowing how accurate or reliable your new toy will be, but power2max has been awesome so far in both regards. This has helped make training precise, specific, and fun to analyse.”
The women’s UnitedHealthcare team are riding the Orbea Orca OMR (Orbed Monocoque Race) frameset. This frame is ever so slightly more relaxed than the brand’s latest top-tier frame, the Orca OMR, a model the UHC men’s team are apparently using for 2017.
The only change expected from the bike pictured is a move to the new Shimano R9100-series groupsets. The team will otherwise continue riding with Pioneer powermeters, components from FSA and Shimano Dura-Ace wheels.
Rushlee Buchanan, UnitedHealthcare
Rushlee Buchanan’s Orbea
Favourite feature: Rushlee Buchanan, the four-time New Zealand road champion, said her favourite feature is actually one that you can’t see until you turn the bike over. On the underside of the downtube it reads ride, fight, win – words that she can relate to her racing and her everyday journey. “I take each word and make my own meaning from it,” said Buchanan. “I obviously like riding and I get so much enjoyment from being outside on my bike, ‘ride’ to me is my happy-place. Be it in a race or just cruising down a bike path to coffee. ‘fight’ is an everyday thing and it’s more or less directly relatable to racing – gotta get your elbows out every now and then! Everyday you’re fighting a little bit of something, for me it’s usually hunger … but it could be weather, other riders pushing you, the pain cave etc. Then ‘win’ is the prize at the end, an actual win from a race, or a PB power from training, a successful escape from that storm cloud chasing you.”
“I also really like a streamlined front end. The K-Edge mount and Pioneer help make that happen,” said Buchanan. “Everything is at the same level, maybe I’m a little bit OCD but I have a hard time dealing with bike computers that sit up from your handlebars or on top of the stem. That’s so un-aero!”
What I couldn’t do without: “I’ve ridden my fair share of bikes so I’m used to always adjusting to something new. Nowadays I appreciate simplicity and the Orbea does that well. I know that all my power is going directly through the pedals as the frame is so light yet stiff and very responsive. Basically the frame is everything it needs to be and nothing it doesn’t.” Buchanan added that “too many little fancy additions sometimes are worse.”
The Hagens Berman–Supermint team ride American-made carbon frames from HIA Velo. It’s one of the more unique bikes in professional cycling, The team use the ‘Founder’ model, something that’s best described as a traditional lightweight race frame. Claimed weight for a 54cm frame is just 875g with a few thick coats of paint (720g claimed without paint). It’s a frame that’s fairly subtle in its appearance, with no fancy brakes or wind-cheating profiles. Instead, it’s kept clean with internal cable routing, press-fit bottom bracket and a traditional seat post.
Mullens is no stranger to the SRAM components as used by the team. Mullens’ bike is using SRAM eTap wireless shifting which further cleans up the look of the subtle ride. SRAM also supplies Zipp wheels and Quarq powermeter (not pictured). Mullens prefers a 52/36T chainring setup, which allows her to spin at a higher cadence, a pedalling technique that’s popular amongst mountain bikers.
Peta Mullens with her HIA Velo
Peta Mullens’ HIA Velo. In the sun you can see a slight sparkle in the paint job. Picture by Tim Bardsley-Smith
Peta Mullens’ HIA Velo
Favourite feature: “Apart from the sparkle,” Mullens said with a laugh. “Well coming from an aero frame I was surprised how solid and stiff the hand-made traditional style frame is,” Mullens told Ella CyclingTips. “It’s really responsive in the front end which makes it perfect for criterium style racing, but then I can throw a set of FFWD race wheels in and suddenly it ticks under 7 kilograms and I’m a climber (sort of)!”
“The ‘Founder’ is HIA Velo’s first production frame but I’m really excited to see what they produce under the Allied Cycle Works brand,” said Mullens. “When we arrive in the US we’ll receive a second bike for the season, of course hand made in the US but a different frame design, hopefully with a ‘minty’ flavour, so I have pretty high expectations for it now.”
What I couldn’t do without: “I couldn’t go without the SRAM Red eTap group-set. I trialled it mid last year but this is the first chance I’ve had to run it on my race bike. Aesthetically it looks clean and simple and my boyfriend, as a mechanic, appreciates just how easy it is to set-up, maintain and clean. Operationally it’s amazingly smooth, especially the front derailleur changes, and if I let my battery run flat (like I always seem to do), then I can interchange the external battery packs,” Mullens added. “In terms of comfort I’ve always preferred the SRAM hoods; I know they work closely with women’s professional teams to make the ergonomics user-friendly. And although not pictured, throughout the season I’ll run semi-compact SRAM Red powermeters on both my bikes; as a coach I find power the MOST vital component of my training. I couldn’t live without it.”
Another strongly Italian-themed bike from the women’s WorldTour, Annette ‘Nettie’ Edmondson and the rest of the Wiggle High5 team will continue into 2017 riding bikes from Colnago. Much of the team are expected to ride the Italian-made C60, while Edmondson is seen riding the V1-r, a bike that was the result of a design collaboration with Ferrari.
The V1-r features subtle aerodynamic aspects and is made using a monocoque construction technique, a near standard technique in carbon frame manufacturing amongst the bigger brands. However, it’s a vast change from the Colnago C60 which continues to use more traditional tube and lug constructions.
The rest of the bike is finished with Campagnolo Super Record EPS electronic shifting, Campagnolo Bora Ultra tubular wheels, Deda cockpit and a saddle from Astute, an Italian saddle-specialist.
Annette Edmondson, Wiggle High5
Annette Edmondson’s Colnago
Asking Edmondson if there’s anything on her bike she insists on, she quickly replied “I’m fussy about my tyre pressure”.
When we caught up with van Vleuten at the Santos Women’s Tour in Adelaide, her and the team were still racing the 2016 race bikes. For 2017, the team will remain on the Scott Foil aero road machines, with the key difference being a move from green details on the frame, to fluro yellow. It’s a change that closely aligns with the new bikes for the Orica-Scott men’s team too.
Otherwise, the Australian team moves from PRO to Syncros cockpit and touch point components for 2017. Additionally, new Shimano R9150 Di2 groupsets should be waiting for the team once they return to Europe and get on their new Scott Foil bikes.
For van Vleuten, she uses 38cm width bars and says that the new integrated Syncros handlebar setup is available in her size, and even a narrower 36cm that some of her team mates will use.
Annemiek van Vleuten, Orica-Scott with the 2016 bike
Orica-Scott’s team car. Pic by Tim Bardsley-Smith
Annemiek van Vleuten’s Scott
A touch of yellow – the new colours
Favourite feature: Sprint shifters, which mean you can also shift gears via a small button or lever, come right at the top of the list for van Vleuten. “I have really small hands and they mean I can now very easily shift in the sprint, but its also very good at the spring classics,” van Vleuten told Ella CyclingTips. “Those sprint shifters are on the top of the handlebars so when I am on the cobbles I can shift without moving my hands.”
What I couldn’t do without: For van Vleuten the sprint shift is a crucial feature and she’d also find it hard to go back to a heavier bike after riding this one, which is right on the weight limit. “You don’t want to ride a bike that’s very heavy uphill. Last year in the Rio Olympics I feel like it really made a difference to me to have a bike that was low in weight. Every detail counts if you want to win uphill.”
One of the more colourful bikes in the pro peloton, the Canyon bikes of the Canyon-SRAM women’s team get plenty of attention. For 2017, Cromwell’s bike doesn’t see much change from the year prior, with the Australian continuing to ride the lightweight, comfortable and some-what aero Ultimate CF SLX.
The drivetrain is still SRAM’s eTap wireless, powermeter is a SRAM Quarq, with wheels and cockpit components supplied by Zipp. One of the only technical changes to the team bike for the new year is a change from Continental to Schwalbe tyres.
A funky touch on Cromwell’s bike is the cat-ear cover on her Garmin Edge 520. Cromwell’s new Giro TechLace shoes with Aussie-flag Boa are worthy of a mention too.
Tiffany Cromwell, Canyon-SRAM
Tiffany Cromwell’s Canyon
A special Australian touch
Favourite features:“It’s a very aerodynamic all in one cockpit that they added to the Ultimate CF SLX frame … and that has made a massive difference,” Cromwell told Ella CyclingTips. “But we’re also still working with Canyon in terms of making the ergonomics better for females and they have been really proactive. There’s going to be some new technology coming out in a few months time that we can look forward to.”
“But for me, the favourite is the look of it. You know you can’t go past that it’s a beautiful looking bike. The paint job that they’ve done together in collaboration with the kit … and the SRAM eTap wireless. It just looks super clean.”
What I couldn’t do without: A big part of that streamlined look is the all in one bar and that, along with the wireless electronic gears of SRAM red eTap are two features that Cromwell would’t want to do without. “It just looks so clean,” said Cromwell. “You go back to a normal bike and you’ve got wires and you’ve got everything hanging out.”
Trek certainly manages to stand out in the field with the blue bikes of team Drops. Here, the team rides a mixture of the lightweight Emonda and the aero Madone. Pictured is Alice Barnes and her Madone, a bike that is arguably one of the most technically advanced in road cycling.
The Trek Madone offers a number of hidden features in an effort to cheat the wind, while also remaining comfortable and lightweight. Such an example is the stealthy ‘IsoSpeed’ decoupler that allows the hidden second seat shaft to flex for greater comfort. It’s shielded by the aerodynamic seat post that is visible from the outside.
Another feature are the head tube wings that hide the proprietary brake components when in a straight line, but open and allow clearance as the handlebars are turned.
Bontrager provide the wheels and cockpit components, with Shimano coming to the party for the drivetrain. Barnes’ bike features new Dura-Ace R9100 pedals, something not even the likes of Peter Sagan had at the time of photographing. The team are likely to receive new R9150 Di2 groupsets when they return from Australia.
Alice Barnes, Drops
Alice Barnes’ Trek
Getting the bikes lined up. Picture by Tim Bardsley-Smith
Favourite features: “My favourite part is just how stiff it feels and how responsive it feels when sprinting,” said Barnes. “It just feels like every watt I’m putting into the pedal is going to moving my bike.”
What I couldn’t do without: As it turns out the answer is the whole bike. “It got stolen last year in Sweden and I really missed it, getting it back was really nice.” Barnes is also a fan on the new Bontrager Ajna Elite women’s saddle in a 144mm width that was put on after a bike fit. “It’s really comfy.”