Tour de France tech: Bikes and more from the stage 1 time trial

by Dave Everett


DÜSSELDORF, Germany (CT) – Stage 1 of the Tour de France is done and the wet weather caused havoc not just for the riders but also for the team mechanics. Wandering around the pits, eyes were to the sky as both riders and mechanics tried to work out what tyres and kit they’d use to tackle the flat 14km course in the rain.

Here’s some of the gear we spotted.

Canyon

Only two days ago Canyon showcased their collaboration with legendary German band Kraftwerk. The Ultimate CF SLX will be a limited run of only 21 bikes (the same as the number of Tour stages). Sat to one side of the Katusha-Alpecin team bus today was a single Canyon Speedmax time trial bike in the same paint scheme as the limited Ultimate CF SLX.

Wheel sponsor Zipp had also got in on the act and produced a matching pair of wheels: a full disc rear wheel, and the whale-inspired shape and deeper version of a 454 NSW up front. This is something we will be keeping an eye on as we’ve not previously seen this wheel in action.

Martin’s choice of rubber was the Continental Grand Prix TT in a 23mm. Shifting was taken care of by SRAM’s eTap electronic groupset.

While at the Katusha-Alpecin bus we were witness to team mechanics quickly covering the very coarse skateboard grip tape on Martin’s saddle with what looked like a lighter version of grip tape. Back at the 2015 world time trial championships Martin took some of the limelight when his saddle’s grip tape ripped a hole all the way through his chamois. We’re unsure how the team gets away with this modification as UCI rules state you can not modify equipment on the bike.

Martin ended up piloting the bike to fourth place.

Cofidis and Orbea

Wildcard team Cofidis was using the Basque-designed Orbea Ordu time trial bike. The team bike was kitted out with Vision Metron base bars and aero extensions. Metron’s disc rear wheel was matched with a Metron 90 front wheel, shod with Kenda’s SC (service course) tubulars (which are currently unavailable to the public).

Even though the course was short, Cofidis riders opted to take a bottle with them — Elite’s aero bottle and matching cage.

The Ordu has a proprietary stem but many Cofidis riders were using FSA-sponsored equipment with quite a few of the K-Force MTB-centric Drop models in use. This paired with a 3D-printed fairing on some tidied up the gap between the rear of the stem and the top of the top tube. The direct-mount calipers come from Tririg.

Cofidis also had something a little exciting tucked away to one side at the bus, but more of that in a few days …

Helmets

With such a fast course it was a surprise to see Movistar leader Nairo Quintana using Abus’s recently released aero-specific road helmet as his lid of choice. Abus is in its first year of sponsorship with the Spanish squad, the latter having been with Catlike for many years.

Abus’ new helmet, the Gamechanger, is the German brand’s first foray into the aero helmet market. We first saw it in action at this year’s Paris-Roubaix on two of the team’s riders. We will be bringing you a full review of the helmet at a later date.

Other interesting helmets spotted included what seemed to be unbranded Lazer Victor models used by some Cofidis and Movistar riders. Neither Abus nor Orbea (which sponsors Cofidis) have time trial helmets in their line-up. AG2R-La Mondiale sponsor Ekoi, a relatively small company, had the team in a new helmet too. It looks to be a slight update to their TT1 model with a slightly more angular shape around the lower part of the helmet where it covers the ears.

Tony Martin sported a Giro Aerohead MIPS time trial helmet, obviously in a world champion’s colourway. It matched his jersey but not his Kraftwwrk bike. BMC team leader Richie Porte also rode with the Aerohead helmet but the much more expensive Ultimate version with a shell construction that includes TeXtreme™ carbon fibre, an advanced material that is claimed to be both lighter and stronger than many other carbon composites on the market.

Cannondale’s disc TT bike

Cannondale-Drapac had Alberto Bettiol on the latest incarnation of the Slice time trial bike, the Superslice. The all-new disc-brake-equipped time trial bike has already seen action this year, as far back at Tirreno-Adriatico, but it’s the first time it’s been used at a Grand Tour.

Tektro’s in-house lightweight racing parts brand, TPR, provides calipers — Spyre SLCs — and interestingly they’re cable operated, not hydraulic.

Cannondale representatives on hand were giving nothing away apart from the fact its a whole new bike. There’s a new sleeker head tube, and the rear of the bike looks to have been refined a bit too. Rotor size was 160mm. Wheels were Mavic’s Comet Pro Carbon SLT Disc. At 1,610 grams for a 60mm deep rim with a disc hub the numbers stack up on what seems an impressive wheelset.

The rest of the build was pretty much standard team issue, with a Dura-Ace Di2 shifting setup, Cannondale SISL chainset, Vision bars and stem, and a Fizik saddle.

A super fast suit

Stage winner Geraint Thomas, and Sky team leader Chris Froome, were wearing a new skinsuit from Castelli today. Speaking with brand manager Steve Smith we found out that the new suit has gone through 80 hours of wind tunnel testing, it’s made from multiple new fabrics, and its construction method is new too. The major claim is that its aero qualities improve the faster the rider goes.

A new wheel

Over at both Bora-Hansgrohe and QuickStep Floors, we spotted an all new time trial disc wheel. Little is known about the wheel and even less was being said by both mechanics and staff from Specialized/Roval. The team has previously used the wheel at several events before the Tour, but it has managed to go under the radar so far.

And the rest

Finally, here’s a round-up of some of the other interesting items on show at today’s stage, including blue chains, Porte’s tiny TimeMachine, a few unbranded Lightweight wheels, and more.

Stay tuned for plenty more tech from the 2017 Tour de France.

Editors Picks