Tech news AG2R race on a prototype BMC at Dauphine
Despite its black paint, the prototype bike certainly stands out from the crowd.
New bike silly season is well and truly here. After Dylan Teuns of Israel-Premier Tech was
spotted riding what appears to be a new Factor O2 VAM last week, AG2R riders Ben O’Connor and Greg van Avermaet were both seen riding a prototype BMC on the opening stage of this year’s Criterium du Dauphine Sunday.
Despite its matt black stealth paint job, the exceptionally wide fork legs and sharp angles of this prototype has it standing out from the crown.
The fork legs carry the BMC and Red Bull Advanced Technologies logos, presumably indicating the new bike is the result of the continued partnership between the Swiss bike manufacturer and the high-performance vehicle engineering division of Red Bull Racing. That partnership delivered a triathlon bike last year and has seemingly focused on delivering an aero-optimised road frame this year.
It’s unclear if the new bike will replace the TimeMachine, BMC’s dedicated aero platform. The bike offers its fair share of aero cues, and despite its clear differences and upgrades, fits the TimeMachine family mould with mostly mid-depth aero-profiled tubes and integrated bottle cages. That said, it does have the air of an “all-rounder” and could prove to be an entirely new model.
Given AG2R is riding the prototype frame in the Dauphine, it seems almost certain that the same frame will appear in action at the upcoming Tour de France. That is, at least assuming the team has registered the bike with the
UCI’s new TDF Equipment Register. The new road bike is the second new BMC spotted under a pro rider in as many months after Tudor Pro Cycling rider Tom Bohli was seen riding a new TimeMachine TT bike in April’s Tour de Romandie.
While we at
Escape Collective couldn’t be on the ground at this year’s Criterium du Dauphine, our colleagues at MatosVelo.fr have kindly provided these photos of the new BMC as seen at the start of stage one. The new bike isn’t short of defining features. There’s the kinked top tube which bears a striking resemblance to the Pinarello Crossista F. The fork crown and legs give a unique look. The fork is almost swallowed up by the extremely deep head tube. While the bottom bracket flows from the seat tube through to the chain stays. And then there’s that profiled interface where the seat stays meet the seat tube. The BMC is currently under prototype status, which the UCI defines as “any equipment in development phase and not yet available for purchase.” In reality, this frame seems very much the finished article, rather than an actual development prototype for BMC. No doubt AG2R will be hoping to race the new bike at the Tour, and likely have both O’Connor and Van Avermaet on the new bike in the Dauphine simply to give the riders the opportunity to familiarise themselves with both the new frameset and Campagnolo Super Record Wireless groupset in advance of the biggest race of the season. The new front end is among the most interesting developments on the new BMC. While not quite as angular and extreme as that on the Red Bull : BMC time trial bikes of late, the new fork crown is amongst the most aggressively designed of any World Tour road bike. The fork crown flares out to flow into the wider stance fork legs. This wider stance fork leg design opens up the gap between the rotating front wheel and the carbon fork legs. Manufacturers have trended towards two diverging fork designs of late, with some opting for extremely narrow stance forks and others choosing this wider stance approach, both in a bid to improve the aerodynamic efficiency of the front end. The wider stance theory suggests the larger space between fork leg and wheel allows for improved flow through that wider gap. The fork crown sweeps forward from the bottom of the head tube, a design similar to the RB : BMC Triathlon and time trial bike. The sheer width of those fork legs is clear to see. BMC has also developed a new integrated handlebar and stem for the new bike. The new bar features a narrow aero-profiled top section and matching stem for a sleek finish. O’Connor is also riding with the new Campagnolo Super Record Wireless groupset. As is Greg van Avermaet, who is running a pro-looking slammed stem position. This photo provides a better view of the sheer depth of that new head tube design. The new UCI regulations now allow for much deeper and narrower tubes (up to 8:1 depth:width) and manufacturers are using this new rule to build frames with deeper head tubes in a bid to improve the front-end aerodynamics. The head tube features a truncated rear side. The truncated profile is thought to almost trick the airflow by mimicking a teardrop profiled tube but with less surface area and hence lower weight. Both the down tube and the top tube flow out of the head tube continuing that deep profile trend, and while the down tube maintains the same depth all the way to the bottom bracket, the top tube is almost a tale of two halves. The deep front half tapers to its slimmest point just past the midway point of the tube. It then tapers to a slightly taller profile again where it meets the seat tube. BMC also employed a tapered top tube design in its new time trial bike spotted at the Tour de Romandie, but where that top tube tapered all the way to the seat tube, the mid-tube kinked design on the new road bike is even more intriguing. Factor has also incorporated a tapered top tube design in its new bike spotted last week. The tapered top tube design is thought to offer improved compliance by introducing a degree of intentional flex in an area which doesn’t hamper the frame’s aero performance or lateral stiffness. BMC has retained the aero module bottle cage neatly integrating with the down tube, but reverts to a more traditional style cage on the seat tube. It’s unclear if BMC will retain the integrated Aero module tool box. The aero-profiled down tube flows into a tall and chunky bottom bracket, which flows into the chain stays and neatly shrouds a chunk of the rear wheel. Taller bottom brackets are thought to offer an aero gain with the greater surface area providing a smoother airflow over the frame. While considerably taller than the bottom bracket on the current TeamMachine and TimeMachine frames, this prototype BMC isn’t quite as tall as the likes of that found on the Trek Madone and other modern aero bikes, that chain stay, seat tube, bottom bracket bridge extends the bottom bracket area over the rear wheel and one can see how it might offer a similar aero gain. The new bottom bracket is taller and longer than that on any current BMC road bike. Note the previous generation Campagnolo 12-speed Power2Max crankset. The team will likely continue to rely on the “older” cranks while Campag continues to develop its own power meter offering, but it also serves as the first indication that Campag-equipped pro teams will stick with their traditional 53/39T or larger chainring combinations rather than Campag’s new smaller offerings that make up the new groupset. The seat tube retains an aero profile similar to that on the existing TimeMachine, but BMC has greatly increased the portion of tube hugging and hiding the rear wheel. BMC has also re-profiled the seat stay-to-seat tube junction, opting for a larger and smoother junction again to improve aero efficiency. While impossible to tell without getting our hands on it, the new bike has an air of weight saving alongside its obvious aero details. BMC has minimised tube sizes where possible. While more obvious in the seat stays and that top tube, BMC could have opted for a deeper down tube or seat tube had it disregarded weight and went all out on the aero gains. Other more subtle areas, such as this skeleton-like Direct Mount rear derailleur hanger, also suggest weight saving has been a core design goal. Whether those weight-saving goals were achieved or not is less clear, with AG2R’s decision to race with tubular wheels and tyres and this presumably team only drillium cassette both suggesting the team still felt the need to carve out some further weight savings. The stealth aero-profiled tubes on the new BMC do a decent job of disguising the increased size of Campag’s new front derailleur. What did you think of this story?
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