Tech features Tour Down Under tech, part 2
Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue in tech at the Tour Down Under.
Tour Down Under is done and dusted for another year, and the race has crowned a new winner in Stevie Williams. While we covered much of the new tech on show at the WorldTour curtain-raiser in our first gallery, in this gallery, we’ll delve into some of the interesting and lesser spotted tech choices floating about the team paddock.
With some kit new to specific teams, some old and rather questionable, some borrowed from a rider on the same pedals, and something that should be blue but isn’t, there should be plenty of luck in this one.
Carbs are crucial in the modern peloton with every team now fully aware of the benefits of going “high-carb”. We discussed how to do high-carb and when it is right in a recent episode of Performance Process podcast, and the teams Down Under seem to get it with Maurten and other high carb products from the likes of SIS and others in use at almost every team. Fuelling adequately is as important off the bike as on it. Ineos Grenadiers had this table set up next to their pit area and the riders sat down to solid meals as soon as they stepped off the bike. Cofidis are the last of the late tubeless adopters still running tubulars in 2024, a decision JP Ballard of SwissSide described as “catastrophic, and a double-digit watt penalty” in our Pit Walk podcast. The Combo Aero Handlebar on the new Look 795 Blade RS received more complimentary comments from Ballard and usually looks quite sleek and aerodynamic. Unfortunately, this example seems to have lost its cover, perhaps in the long transit from Europe, and doesn’t look quite so well. No doubt the team will replace it asap. Anyone else find these velcro tabs in the most random places for weeks after a Retul bike fit? Insert smiley face emoji. Cofidis are using SRM PM9 power meters and have a variety of chainrings across the team. This bike is equipped with Dura-Ace 9200 54:40 rings. While another bike was equipped with Kronos. Team Arkéa-B&B Hotels have the choice of Bianchi’s Oltre XR4 aero bike and the Specialissima climbing bike, shown here. JP Ballard also delved into his thoughts on the new Specialissima in that same pit walk podcast. Spoiler alert, it’s JP’s opinion the bike is a climbing-specific “no-aero” bike. Visma-Lease a Bike have installed CloseTheGap’s Save My Bar bar end plugs handlebars for the past seasons or two and continue to do so in 2024. The external bar plug bumper prevents crash and travel damage to carbon drop ends, and as the plug sits between the tape and bar, the tension from the tape wrap means it can’t fall out, unlike traditional bar end plugs. UAE Team Emirates riders had various handlebar setups with some riders opting for two-piece cockpits … … While others opted for Enve’s integrated bar-stem option. Interestingly, though, none of the bikes we spotted were equipped with Colnago’s own CC01 integrated handlebar typically spec’d on the Colnago V4Rs, a combination ridden to victory by Jay Vine in last year’s race. Sticking with UAE for a second, the entire squad is kitted out with CarbonTI chainrings and disc rotors once again. The CarbonTi products may offer some weight savings, although this will be at least partially offset by the 6-bolt to centre lock adapter with the rotors. It’s also a sure fire indicator that UAE Team Emirates is buying its Shimano components. Shimano sponsored squads are typically required to use Shimano and PRO components throughout. That round tubing and very high position are not going to test well in the tunnel. Progresive geometry? Chalk and cheese: these wheel and tyre combos might give us an insight to a rider’s belief in the “gainz.” The bike on the left closest to camera is Phil Bauhaus’ Merida Reacto equipped with Vision’s 60SL 60 mm deep rims wrapped in Continental’s GP 5000 TT TR tyres, while Nicolò Buratti’s bike one place to the right has the shallower and presumably less aero 45SLs and Continental’s GP 5000 S TR, a good tyre but seemingly not quite as fast as the TT option. Bauhaus is a seasoned and successful sprinter while Buratti is a first-year pro, so there could be other explanations for his tyre and wheel setup: less options, lighter wheels, less importance placed on the TDU, etc. Jackson Medway had a great week on his lesser-spotted-at-WorldTour level Cervelo Soloist. The bike is a Team Bridgelane team bike equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace groupset and wheels … … And Maxxis tyres, also less common in WorldTour races these days. Medway was seen doing his own power meter life support before the start. Seemingly, the threads on the battery cover of his Garmin Vector pedals had stripped, and the cover had popped off; the battery was lost, but Medway found the cover. Another young rider came to his rescue and kindly handed his bike over the barriers for Medway to “rob Peter to pay Paul” with a quick battery swapperoo. A name to watch out for? Archie Ryan is one of the few EF Education-EasyPost riders using the Cannondale Momo Design integrated handlebar, if not the only rider. Just my opinion, but the Momo bars integrate and look so much better than the FSA and Vision setups most of the team are using. An aggressive-looking 130 mm and -17° stem for Lidl-Trek’s Jacopo Mosca. There was much speculation circulating about “the blacked-out bikes on the FDJ car,” but there is a simple explanation – The two New Zealanders on the Groupama-FDJ, Laurence Pithie and Reuben Thompson, both headed home from Europe to the southern hemisphere last October before the team had A) announced their new bike supplier and b) said supplier, Wilier, had time to finalise the new team bikes’ paint jobs. But still, the riders needed their 2024 bikes for winter training, as such, both were sent off with these unpainted but entirely standard Wilier Filante SLRs. The two spare bikes also had tubular Dura-Ace C60 rims but from what we saw the Groupama riders raced on tubeeless setups. Speaking of black carbon bikes, the new paint job on Ineos’ Pinarello Dogma F is lighter on paint this year. Is it just the design or an attempt to find some minor weight saving? Visma-Lease a Bike have switched from Lazer to Giro helmets for 2024. The team rode with the Aries Spherical vented helmet all week rather than the more aero-focused Eclipse Spherical, presumably to aid with cooling in the hot Australian sun. We don’t see many FLR shoes in the peloton, but there are some. Enzo Paleni of Groupama-FDJ is racing with the F-XX Knit. Paleni mentioned he likes the breathability and low weight the knit construction offers. Stevie Williams went into the final day in the overall leader’s jersey and clearly wasn’t all that worried about needing every marginal gain possible to defend said lead. He started the stage with standard anti-aero cotton socks and … … Ekoi’s Legende highly vented helmet. That said, the vented helmet option might actually have been the optimal choice given the heat during the final stage. Perhaps this is our something actually blue. Most other riders were opting for various types of aero socks. We can’t speak to their effectiveness or drag-reducing effects, but it’s interesting to see the many different takes. This is the Ale take in team Bahrain Victorious colours along with Northwave’s new Veloce shoes. On the opposite end of the scale to Williams, some of his Israel-Premier Tech team mates wore Sockeloen’s Fastest Sock On the Planet €1,000 socks. PS that’s the sock name and they are available for around €50 if you forgo the wind tunnel testing. Verge Sport clothing has entered the WorldTour with Intermarché-Wanty; here’s the American brand focusing mainly on custom clothing’s custom aero socks. It’s a similar story with jersey sleeves, the other big lycra- and trip-strip clad cylindrical shape on the body. Here Natnael Tesfatsion models Lidl-Trek and Santini’s aero sleeves. Let’s put this in the medium trippy category. Bora-Hansgrohe on the other hand is all mesh and zero trip … … As is Ale’s Groupama-FDJ breathable sleeves. Alpecin-Deceuninck joins Lidl-Trek in the medium trip group. As does Visma-Lease a Bike. Smooth all over for DSM Firmenich-PostNL. UAE Team Emirates undoubtedly had the most aggressive looking trips. With Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale a close second. Although, the French team gets docked ten points for having the shoulder logo upside down. Trippy squared …. I’ve no clue what’s going on with these sleeves. Nor this sleeve from Verge. I’m no aerodynamicist, but I’m pretty sure golf ball dimples don’t work on non-rotating arms. What did you think of this story?
😐Meh 😊️Solid 🤩Excellent