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by Dave Everett
March 14, 2017
Photography by Dave Everett
When the professional racing season kicks off in Australia in January, it’s not uncommon to see teams riding bikes from the year before, or decked out in kit that’s different to what they’ll use later in the season. Why? Sometimes it’s just not possible to get enough bikes and kit ready in time.
But come late February and early March, the season is in full swing and it’s then that we get to actually see full teams on the bikes they’ll use for the rest of the season. Being the first major European stage race of the year, Paris-Nice is often a good place to get sightings of the latest custom bikes, a full line-up of the newest tech and, for this year, a gauge of who’s decided to go down the disc brakes path.
We spent a few cold and wet days wandering the pits of Paris-Nice to bring you all the latest tech. Here’s what we found.
Dutch champion Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) had a custom Bianchi Oltre XR4 on display at Paris-Nice last week. The bright tri-colours and a flashy take on the Dutch lion motif kept Groenewegen’s Bianchi standing out from the rest of the team’s bikes. The detailing was second-to-none. The build didn’t deviate from the rest of the team’s setup, apart from a custom Pioneer power meter pod on the Dura-Ace spider.
Just like at last year’s Paris-Nice, Lotto-Soudal changed names and jersey design for Paris-Nice, substituting Soudal for Fix All, one of Soudal’s many products. To celebrate this fact, bike sponsor Ridley matched the team’s Helium SL bikes to the blue of the jersey.
The top tube featured the full race route from start to finish and the build featured a Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset and Bora Ultra 35 wheels wrapped in 25mm-wide Vittoria Corsa tubulars – a change from last year’s Continental tyres. Finishing kit was from Deda, with most of the team using the Italian brand’s latest alloy bar and stem combo, the Superzero. The only main deviation from the Campagnolo groupset was the use of a C-Bear bottom bracket. The Belgian company specialises in a wide assortment of ceramic bearings.
Dutch champion Dylan Groenewegen’s very flash, custom-painted Bianchi Oltre XR4.
National flag detail on the fork leg.
Yet another Vision-sponsored rider on the new Metron 5D integrated bar and stem.
A custom Pioneer powermeter for Dylan Groenewegen’s national champ’s Bianchi.
Lizard Skin supply both Lotto-Fix All and Dimension Data with bar tape.
All the Lotto-Fix All riders were using the relatively new Deda Superzero alloy stem, first seen at last year’s Giro d’Italia.
On occasions you’ll see riders with sprint or climb locations taped to their stems. Lotto-Fix All went one better and had the entire race route on their top tubes.
Lotto-Fix All had new bikes that matched the rebranded colours and name they were riding under at Paris-Nice.
Keeping sponsors happy.
Just a little hit of Belgian pride.
A close-up of the map on the top tube.
At last year’s Tour de France we spotted a select few riders using Vision’s latest integrated bar and stem, the Metron 5D. Judging by the uptake from Vision-sponsored riders, it would seem that the new bar is very much a hit among the pro riders. Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors), most of the LottoNL-Jumbo squad, many of the Cofidis riders, and several of the Astana riders all had the bars installed.
A few riders on Team Sunweb, sponsored by Giant, had the company’s latest Contact SLR stem in use. The hugely oversized carbon design dwarfs the older version with its revamped boxier design — definitely something for the sprinters.
On occasion, a sponsor may not have a product that quite suits a rider’s taste or fit requirements. For a few of the FDJ riders, long-time component sponsor PRO was ousted in favour of a 140mm long FSA SL-K stem, all unbranded, bar a small FDJ logo on the clamp front where the usual FSA would be.
These new-shaped Contact SLR stems don’t seem to be on the Giant website yet. They certainly look production-ready though.
Giant computers are rebadged Brytons. Mount is from Taiwanese company Fouriers.
Astana had custom Prologo saddles to match their fleet of new Argon 18 team bikes.
A couple of the FDJ team riders were using rebadged FSA SL-K stems.
Marcel Kittel was yet another rider using the latest Vision Metron 5D integrated bars. Bar tape is from Supacaz.
The small elastomer was missing on a couple of the Merida S-Flex seat posts used by the Bahrain-Merida team.
It’s not hard to guess which ‘punchy’ rider this integrated bar and stem belongs to.
Over at Dimension Data, Omar Fraile was using the latest unreleased Cervelo, a bike we already caught a sneak peek of at the Dubai Tour back in February. From what we understand it’s likely to be the new R5 model.
The new frame, when compared to the current R5, is beefier in shape — all tubes seem to have been enlarged. The major stand-out seems to be the inclusion of the much more aero down tube. The seat clamp is now hidden away and sits tidily behind the post at the top of the seat stays. It is now a wedge design.
This bike appears on the UCI’s approved frames list as “R5 rim brake version”. This would suggest that there’s also a disc brake version in the pipeline, something we’ll need to keep an eye out for at the Spring Classics.
The latest Cervelo was spotted at the Dubai Tour earlier in the year. It will see action in the Classics before the Giro.
A very tidy rear end with a hidden seat clamp for the seatpost.
The down tube is more aero than that of the previous R-Series model. It takes a few design aspects from Cervelo’s aero S-range.
Dimension Data uses Enve bars and stems. Note the Garmin mount that attaches directly to the faceplate bolts.
The head tube also has an aero flair to it.
The frame and forks have a distinctive wrap to them; that is, they aren’t actually painted. The bike has been designed to emulate the camouflage that new cars have when still in the prototype phase.
Factor Bikes only last year started sponsoring the One Pro Cycling Pro Continental team, but has stepped up its game for 2017, replacing Focus as the bike sponsor of French WorldTour team Ag2r-La Mondiale. The brand is partly owned by Tour de France green jersey winner Baden Cooke.
Factor officially launched the Factor Slick time trial bike during Paris-Nice, with its maiden voyage coming on stage 4. The Slick is a first from Factor — they’ve previously had a limited line-up of purely road-oriented bikes.
The Slick is aptly named after David Millar’s first comments when he saw the final product: “that looks slick”. According to Cooke, David Millar helped with the development of the bike, a project the company has been working on for two years.
Factor design director Iñigo Gisbert incorporated the brand’s distinctive Twin Vane Evo down tube from what is seen on the Vis Vires and ONE models. According to Factor, the split tube is more aerodynamic and stiffer than a typical singular-tube construction frame.
The Slick has plenty of design aspects that we’ve come to expect from top-tier time trial bikes: internal cable routing, hidden proprietary integrated front brakes, hidden seatpost clamps, a wide-stance aero fork and seatstays, and enough clearance for 28mm tyres in the front and rear.
Factor has collaborated on the cockpit and aerobars of the new Slick with Mat Steinmetz, a bike fit specialist out of Boulder, Colorado and founder of 51 Speedshop. The bars offer three variations when it comes to the extensions. One aspect that both Cooke and Steinmetz wanted to highlight when speaking about the bike was its vast adjustability in fit.
Cooke also highlighted that the frames Ag2r-La Mondiale was using at Paris-Nice weren’t quite the finished product. Throughout the season, and in the build-up to the team’s ultimate aim — the Tour de France — the bike will be getting refined and becoming lighter.
What looks to be a new Mavic Comete front aero wheel. We will update you on this new product when we get news on it.
A little added CeramicSpeed advantage.
Ag2r La Mondiale will use Mavic wheels in 2017.
A very wide rear end.
Integrated brakes on the front.
A slight sunken top tube indentation.
Baden Cooke was adamant that the seatpost used at Paris-Nice isn’t exactly the final version.
Pads are also by 51 Speedshop.
Bars were developed in cooperation with Colorado-based brand 51 Speedshop.
A close-up of what Factor hopes will be not just a brand identity design, but an added aero advantage.
That twin foil down tube in all its glory.
Finally, there were a few other nuggets of tech that caught our eye. Tony Martin is now at Katusha-Alpecin and was one of only a handful of riders using a disc-equipped bike at Paris-Nice: the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX Disc. The Bahrain-Merida team had a full line up of team bikes with the latest SRM carbon cranks, a product that we got a glimpse of at the Tour Down Under.
With the weather being typically northern (in other words, extremely wet for the first three days), many riders raced with simple plastic Ass Savers mini-fenders attached to their saddles. These were promptly discarded once the event finally headed south and started living up to its moniker, “The Race to the Sun”
Arnaud Demare had a custom-painted Lapierre Pulsium as his spare bike on stage one.
The blue-chromed paint scheme even stood out in the grim northern European rain.
For the first three days of the race, mechanics were seen mounting Ass Savers on many of the team bikes. Some had stock-standard designs where others had matching team editions.
QuickStep Floors were one of the teams with custom printed Ass Savers guards.
Mechanics add bar tape to the pedals of Tony Martin’s bike.
Tony Martin was among a handful of riders using a disc-brake-equipped bike at this year’s Paris-Nice.
Tony Martin moved from Etixx-Quick Step to Katusha-Alpecin this year.
Katusha-Alpecin and Team Delko Marseille Provence were using SRAM’s clever wireless eTap groupset.
This cartoon character could be seen on Bryan Coquard’s violently bright BH Ultralight.
SRM’s new chainset was being used by Bahrain-Merida, but only on their main bikes. All spare bikes had the latest Shimano Dura-Ace chainsets.
Over at Trek-Segefredo, Haimar Zubeldia didn’t want to know what his heart rate was doing.