Sunday’s team trial wasn’t very technical, and mostly flat, which meant that everything was geared toward all-out speed — quite literally, in fact. The average speed of the winning team was a whopping 57.2 kilometers per hour.
Whereas 56T and 58T outer chainrings are often the norm, 60T ones weren’t entirely uncommon today, plus heaps of low-friction, go-fast goodies like ultra-supple tube-type and tubeless clinchers, oversized rear derailleur pulley wheel kits and specially treated chains, and every aero trick each team had up its collective sleeve.
Team Ineos clearly had the biggest budget of everyone on course today, with its fancy Pinarello Bolide time trial machines outfitted with every marginal gain money could buy, including crazy-expensive one-piece 3D-printed custom aero cockpits. The team was the first out of the gate this afternoon, and posted a blistering time that nearly held to earn Ineos its first stage win of this year’s Tour.
But in the end, it was the very last team to start — Jumbo-Visma — that ended up knocking them off that top step by 20 seconds, with no disc brakes, no custom-molded anything. In the end, the sum total of Ineos’s marginal gains weren’t enough to best good old-fashioned horsepower.
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The Bianchi Aquila CV time trial bikes of team Jumbo-Visma certainly didn’t cost as much as what Ineos was riding, but in the end, the victory came down more to the riders’ legs and lungs than marginal gains.
Ineos team leader Geraint Thomas warms up on his Pinarello Bolide time trial bike. Every rider got their own screen set in front of them with a countdown timer on it, plus a Wahoo Fitness KICKR Headwind unit linked to the KICKR trainer to keep them cool.
Ray Maker of DCRainmaker tipped me off to the curious fact that Team Ineos riders were split between Shimano Dura-Ace and Stages power meters.
Why the disparity? According to Maker, team officials chalked it up to personal preference.
Team budgets certainly play a role when it comes to cutting-edge time trial equipment. Here, Ineos (formerly Sky) flexes its financial muscles with these 3D-printed one-piece integrated aerobar setups for its Pinarello Bolide time trial bikes.
Katusha runs the same Canyon Speedmax CF SLX framesets as Movistar, albeit with SRAM components and Zipp wheels instead of Movistar’s all-Campagnolo setup.
Zipp doesn’t make its 858 NSW in a tubular version, and indeed, Katusha was running tube-type clinchers up front for the team time trial. Some of the tires had distinctive red stripes on them, though, while others looked more standard; I’m not sure why.
Katusha stood out for its choice to run single-chainring drivetrains for the entire team.
Shoe covers are very common in time trials as the smooth exterior reduces aerodynamic drag. However, they’re also used to hide footwear that isn’t sponsor-correct. Take a really close look at these; they’re not Sidis.
Prep work is never done when it comes to the Tour de France. Katusha team mechanics were trimming aerobar extension grips minutes before the riders were set to start. Whatever the rider wants, the rider gets.
The Lapierre Aerostorm machines of team Groupama-FDJ.
FDJ’s aerobars were custom made for each rider, using a modular system that still allowed for some initial adjustability before everything was glued in place.
Electrical tape is often a mechanic’s best friend when time trial day arrives.
Low-profile bolt-on skewers for Groupama-FDJ at the team time trial.
Team mechanics often have to get a little creative when it comes to attaching everything needed on a modern time trial bike. The Shimano Di2 junction box works just fine here, but it doesn’t seem like a particularly tidy solution.
Team EF-Education First landed in sixth place today aboard the Cannondale SuperSlice. The Vision Metron wheels were shod with tubeless Vittoria clinchers front and rear. CeramicSpeed OSPW oversized pulley wheel kits on the rear derailleurs helped reduce drivetrain friction, too.
EF-Education First team leader Rigoberto Uran ran a huge 60T chainring for the team time trial. Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean that he spent a ton of time in the 60-11T combo. Bigger chainrings also run with less mechanical friction, too.
EF-Education First’s Cannondale time trial bikes were equipped with odd bolt-on skewers, which required open-ended wrenches to operate.
The Cervelo P5 of team Sunweb is perennially on the wish list of aspiring triathletes everywhere.
Sunweb stuck to tubulars front and rear.
So much tape, so many shift buttons.
The single-post riser on Sunweb’s Cervelo P5 aero cockpits makes for an ultra-clean front end.
I’m not sure of the actual brand name of the rear disc wheels used by team Sunweb, but it certainly isn’t Shimano. [Update: a reader has kindly identified this as a Corima. Specifically, it’s the Disc C+ S Dx model.]
The Giant Trinity TT of Team CCC certainly isn’t the newest time trial bike on the circuit, but it’s still one of the most radical-looking. Team wheels can finally be fitted with proper Cadex labels, too, now that Giant has just recently debuted its new aftermarket component brand.
Whereas production bikes are fitted with house-brand brake calipers, Giant has long tapped the expertise of Fouriers for the team bikes.
A full complement of Lightweight disc rear wheels for the Mitchelton-Scott Scott Plasmas.
Every Mitchelton-Scott team rider is technically supposed to be on a Syncros saddle. However, ISM saddles have long been a favorite amongst the pros, so it isn’t terribly surprising to see a blacked-out one here.
Several Mitchelton-Scott riders were equipped with armrests and extensions from small UK-based outfit WattShop.
The Argon 18 time trial machines of team Astana.
Bora-Hansgrohe made up the stark black-and-white color scheme of its Specialized S-Works Shiv TT Disc framesets with markedly more colorful rear disc wheels. The team ran cotton clinchers and latex inner tubes front and rear.
The handlebar areas of many top-shelf time trial machines are all starting to look very alike, but it’s also hard to argue with how sleek they are.
Riders regularly resort to all sorts of unusual customization when it comes to their time trial saddles.
Sunday’s course was blazing fast, and 58-tooth outer chainrings were the norm. The average speed of stage winner Jumbo-Visma was an incredible 57.202km/h (35.54mph) over 20.1km (12.5 miles).
The huge gap between the seat tube and rear wheel is certainly unusual.
Extra shift buttons for the Bora-Hansgrohe team bikes. Every set of handlebars was so equipped.
Specialized just released this new version of the S-Works Shiv TT Disc. Interestingly, it’s not claimed to be any more aerodynamic than the previous bike, but rather it’s lighter, handles and rides better, and is stiffer at the bottom bracket.
The Kuota Kaliber time trial bikes of Cofidis were notable for their use of cable-actuated TRP disc brakes – a rather unusual spec for sure, and certainly one that feels awkwardly forced as opposed to something chosen for any sort of performance advantage. Also unusual to see here are the Roval wheels, given that the brand falls under the Specialized umbrella.
The BMC TimeMachine bikes of team Dimension Data are always striking to behold, and somehow sinister in their appearance, especially in this raw black finish.
Movistar’s Canyon Speeedmax CF SLX time trial machines look spectacular in this two-tone blue finish.
The custom-molded grips and armrest pads come courtesy of Ergon. That’s no coincidence – the heads of both companies are brothers.
It can be tough for a rider to stay perched right on the tip of the saddle without sliding around, so you’ll often see gripper material to help keep their rear ends in place.
Time trial bikes are certainly arduous for the mechanics to build, but the end result is so, so sleek.
Trek-Segafredo typically runs Trek frames and Bontrager wheels. This is clearly a Trek Speed Concept, but that tri-spoke wheel comes from PRO.
Those aren’t Bontrager disc wheels, either. Most of the team ran Zipp discs that were covered with giant Bontrager decals; Richie Porte used a Lightweight that was similarly disguised.
Trek-Segafredo riders were on a mix of 1x and 2x SRAM Red eTap AXS drivetrains. Single-ring setups were fitted with guides from K-Edge.
The ultra-fast speeds and cooler temperatures meant that many riders decided they didn’t need bottles. Team mechanics scrambled to remove several of them after the riders returned from their recon ride.
No stone is left unturned. Just in case the riders picked up a bit of debris during the recon ride, the tires are all scrubbed down to help prevent an untimely puncture.
Interestingly, the race bikes of team Trek-Segafredo was equipped with tubular tires front and rear, but the spare bikes had tubeless tires up front.
Team Total Direct Energie was on Wilier’s Turbine time trial framesets, fitted with FFWD tubular wheels and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 disc groupsets.
The cockpit areas are about as normal as you can get these days, with proprietary base bars matched to Profile Design extensions.
These socks didn’t fall afoul of the UCI’s silly sock height rule, but the governing body was certainly out checking today.
Warm-up time for the riders of Ag2R-La Mondiale aboard their “Eddy Merckx” time trial machines – otherwise known as repainted Ridley Deans.
While Ag2R-La Mondiale team leader Romain Bardet opted for a tubeless clincher up front, several other teammates were on traditional tubulars. And nothing says “sorry, this component isn’t sponsor-correct” like a blacked-out logo.
Chainstay-mounted direct-mount rear brakes are apparently hard to come by. Team Ag2R-La Mondiale equipped their bikes with a mix of Shimano 105 and Tektro calipers.
The Cube Aerium TT machines of team Wanty-Gobert. They finished last on the day, 1′ 28″ down from Jumbo-Visma.
You want the riders to warm up for the time trial, but they also need to keep cool and be ready on time.
There’s no question which rider’s warm-up station goes where at the team Bahrain-Merida pit area.
Deceuninck-Quick Step had a fancy warm-up platform, made with flooring from the team’s title sponsor.