Tech gallery: The little things at the 2020 Santos Tour Down Under

by James Huang


Details, details.

Oftentimes, it’s not the big things that separate pro race bikes from amateur ones; it’s the attention paid to lesser things, and at this level of the sport, few things go unnoticed.

We’ve already brought you the full-body shots of the men’s bikes being used at this year’s Santos Tour Down Under, which are broken up into part one, part two, part three, and part four. But now, it’s time to take a closer look. The mechanics may not get to compete on the road, but they still get to show off a little bit in their own way.


The removable handles on Mitchelton-Scott’s DT Swiss thru-axles are very convenient. On training rides, riders don’t have to pull out a multi-tool to remove the wheel. But with the handle removed, team mechanics can instead use high-speed electric drivers for ultra-fast wheel changes during a race.

The little temporary rooms used by teams at the Tour Down Under provide some handy makeshift bike storage, too.

It’s always fun to see the different methods teams come up with for attaching number plates.

A neat custom headset cap for Trek-Segafredo rider Kenny Elissonde.

Slam that stem, eh? Pro riders care a lot more about what the data tells them in terms of what position is fastest, and sometimes a higher position works better than a lower one, visuals be damned.

Team soigneurs will typically mark the tops of bottles to indicate what’s inside – an important distinction since each rider has their own preferences.

Well, this is a little awkward. BMC partnered with Elite to develop the proprietary aero bottle cages on its new TMR01 aero road bike, but the NTT team is now sponsored by Tacx.

One thing that’s nice about the way BMC designed the front end of its latest TMR01 aero road bike is how it can use different versions of the company’s cockpit. In the case of NTT, the Enve bars are fully compatible with the BMC stems from the Roadmachine model.

Different teams had different approaches to storage at the Tour Down Under.

Deda’s oversized 35mm-diameter bars haven’t disappeared entirely from the pro ranks, but with the newfound focus on aerodynamic efficiency, a big round cross-section right at the leading edge of the bike isn’t the best way to go.

Deda is another company that offers modular bar-and-stem setups that allow for fully internal routing. The Vinci combination on this UAE-Emirates Colnago V-3r looks pretty slick.

Tubeless is the setup of choice for UAE-Emirates at the 2020 Santos Tour Down Under.

Colnago’s C64 stands apart from the other bikes being used at the 2020 Santos Tour Down Under, being not only the sole lugged carbon machine in the race, but also the only one built in Italy.

From a functional standpoint, it’s hard to make the argument that a lugged carbon fiber frame offers better performance than a monocoque-style one. But somehow, this still tugs at the heartstrings.

UAE-Emirates riders ran a slightly lower 90psi or so in their tires for the exhibition criterium on Sunday.

3D-printed Fizik saddles for much of the Movistar squad at the Tour Down Under.

Even pro racers don’t want their expensive Garmin computers bouncing off into the weeds in the event of a mount or tab failure.

How much does Ineos sweat the small details? The handlebar tape on team bikes isn’t finished with a strip of tape, as has been the norm for ages. Instead, they use cyanoacrylate glue for an ultra-clean look.

Meanwhile, other Ineos riders (this is Ian Stannard’s bike) have their bars taped all the way up to the stem.

Ineos rain bags are even labeled with which car they’re supposed to go into.

Speedplay Zero Aero pedals for the EF team.

The Vision Metron 5D is easily the most popular integrated one-piece handlebar-and-stem setup for riders that aren’t tied to a proprietary setup. Riders apparently favor it because it’s tremendously rigid.

The custom direct-mount rear derailleur hangers used by the EF team look to be monstrously rigid.

EF is another team that has been experimenting with tubeless tires in competition.

Right around 100psi for the Cannondale machines of EF at the exhibition criterium on Sunday.

Teams use a variety of strategies to attach number plates. EF is using 3D-printed ones that fit perfectly around the seatpost.

More Vision Metron 5D integrated cockpits, this time on the Bianchis of Jumbo-Visma.

Slick! Teams usually attach their timing chips with some combination of electrical tape and zip ties, but Jumbo-Visma mechanics have come up with much neater solution, using color-matched heat shrink tubing.

A few Deceuninck-Quick Step riders used Specialized’s aluminum Allez Sprint for the criterium on Sunday, partly to bring some visibility to one of Specialized’s workhorse racing machines, but also to help raise money for the Australian bushfire recovery. The limited-edition paint job was only introduced a few days ago, and is already sold out.

Silca owner Josh Poertner predicted last year that tubeless tires would take over the peloton within the next few years, and at least four teams are continuing to experiment with tubeless at the Tour Down Under. If it continues to go well, that time may come sooner than later.

Road tire inflation pressures are definitely trending downward for everyday riders, but pros are still keeping things pretty firm. Deceuninck-Quick Step was running about 105psi for the exhibition criterium on Sunday.

Deceuninck-Quick Step mechanics modified this PRO Vibe Sprint stem to work with the computer mount that normally goes on the Specialized S-Works Venge.

FSA has developed a very handy cockpit system for companies that want a fully concealed setup but don’t want to come up with their own. The ACR system offers a range of modular stems and handlebars, and the only thing bike companies have to do is make sure there’s enough room at the top of the head tube to feed the cables into the frame.

You don’t see as many riders applying layers of tape to their Look Keo pedals as in years past, but Nathan Haas of Cofidis apparently still prefers more of a locked-in feel than what these pedals normally provide.

Staying organized is a critical component to making sure everything runs smoothly at a big race like the Tour Down Under. Bora-Hansgrohe even goes so far as to assign seating in the team area, meaning riders have one less thing to think about.

Specialized has been making a big push toward tubeless on the road with its new RapidAir technology, and while both the Deceuninck-Quick Step and Bora-Hansgrohe teams are both experimenting with it in earnest, neither one is fully committed to the format just yet. A handful of riders on both squads are still on tubulars.

Mavic’s SpeedRelease system for speeding up wheel swaps seems to be gaining in popularity. It’s a neat design for sure. although now that team mechanics have resorted to tooled axles and electric drivers, it’s unclear if this would still be any quicker to use.

Handlebar and bar tape sponsors don’t usually get a lot of air time given that they’re usually lacking in highly visible logos – unless, however, you make a point of slapping big stickers on them.

FSA is still one of the most popular options in the peloton when a rider needs an odd size.

The Fouriers chain watcher used by Groupama-FDJ mimics the design pioneered by K-Edge several years ago. Note the integrated magnet for the power meter.

Even on new bikes at this level of the sport, it’s not uncommon to find a bit of electrical tape here and there.

Forged aluminum stems often vary in length very slightly from the stated values. Therefore, teams often physically measure every one so they can always nail a rider’s desired fit.

A little luck never hurt.

Maxxis is back at the top of the sport.

Lotto-Soudal rider Adam Hansen is well-known for his unusually low-and-forward riding position. His saddle position is so far forward, in fact – especially for his height – that he often has to run a seatpost flipped the other way around.

Supplemental clamps keep the seatposts from slipping on the Lotto-Soudal Ridleys.

Lotto-Soudal team sponsor C-Bear clearly doesn’t want its bottom brackets to go unnoticed.

See how the bolt is offset on the 4ZA top cap? That’s because the cables run internally through the bar and stem, and then down in front of the D-shaped steerer tube.

K-Edge chain catchers are still a popular accessory.

Hmm, this stem clamp looks a little… curious.

Campagnolo’s bar-end interface has become standard issue for teams running EPS.

Not surprisingly, one of the most popular pieces of equipment in the men’s team paddock area was the coffee machine.

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