TT Geek: Pro Team Speed Machines
Although most of the really cool team gear doesn’t come out until just before the Tour, the early season is a good time to see what new stuff (if any) they’re using. At the recent Tour of the Mediterranean, PEZ plundered the pits to find the new toys for the pro boys. Part 1 takes us into the fast moving world of Time Trial Bikes.
Go Fast And Prosper
Time Trials, possibly the most important part of racing, and with little doubt the most important part of stage racing. Over the past few years teams, riders and equipment manufacturers have been spending a fortune developing aerodynamically efficient machines. Here is a look at what some of the the teams are riding in the early season .
Colnago is one of the biggest bike names in the business and yet they seem to have spent little to no time working on their TT frames. This Team Tinkov bike seems a far cry from Tyler Hamilton’s 2004 Olympic Gold medal winning BMC superbike. Only the seat tube and seat post reveal this as a TT frame. Unless you got your tape measure out and checked the geometry, you could easily confuse this for a road frame with TT bars. Perhaps things will change this year with some input from Tyler himself.
For the past few years Bradley McGee has been using a Walser TT frame repainted and relabeled with Lapierre. See if you can spot the Walser intruder in FDJ’s lineup of TT bikes. No? Well no wonder, it isn’t there! Perhaps this year Brad will be riding a real Lapierre. It must be said however, that these Lapierre TT bikes look very similar in design to the Walser bikes. For the real techno-geeks out there, Bradley McGee wasn’t the only rider in the pro peleton to use a relabeled narrow bottom bracket Walser TT frame. Others reportedly included Jan Ullrich, Levi Leipheimer and Uwe Peschel as well as many of their Gerolsteiner teammates.
Some of FDJ’s TT bikes were sporting more aerodynamic front wheels than the standard deep section Dura Ace front wheels as seen above. These must be for the special guys.
The Ag2r Relic
Spotted leaning against the ag2r team bus was Cyrill Dessel’s Decathlon/B-twin TT bike. B-twin is the new name of the Decathlon brand, but the bike has just been relabeled. Think you might have seen this bike before? They have been riding the same TT bikes for the past couple years. Nothing special here I’m afraid. Notice the lack of aero front wheel. Perhaps the 2007 Tour will be a launching ground for a new ag2r TT bike, maybe a full carbon to replace this aluminum antique?
About the only special thing on the ag2r TT bike was this cool 3D name badge!
U-Bet Those Are Some Nice Wheels
Unibet has been in the news a lot recently, but sadly it’s not their TT equipment that’s making the front page. Although the Canyon TT frame is a fairly standard looking Aluminum TT frame with carbon seat stays, add the appropriately named lightest front wheel in the world… once you have firmly affixed the front wheel, reach into the back of the big Unibet truck and grab one of the hundreds of super hot Leightweight Disc rear wheels…
… And you got yourself a pretty sweet TT bike. Notice the spokes on the rear disc, they look like artwork but are a very thin gauge functional spoke, and that’s definitely not Lightweight rear skewer, but is likely just used for setting in the trainer.
TIME To Go Fast
When it comes to TT bikes, there isn’t much to be said about Time. The RXR is a model of beauty. Smooth lines, very aero and great attention to detail. Notice the internal cable routing on Cofidis’ Time RXR TT bikes.
What is Agritubel anyway? It’s a company that makes metal tubing and fences for farm use, like those big hefty fences that keep the angry bull in his field. I hope they aren’t trying to branch out into the bike business…
Perhaps Agritubel isn’t the ideal sponsor for a Bike team. Notice the backwards sweeping aero bars and the aero-foil rear wheel cover. The basket is believed to be a hydrations system. Let’s see what these guys bring out for the 07 Tour…
Austrian brand Simplon equips the Austrian Elk-Haus team. Spotted leaning against the team car, this bike went largely unnoticed. Bit of a shame really as this Simplon full carbon TT bike is one nice ride! Full aero tubing and smooth lines make it an aerodynamically efficient bike. Full aero seat-post, smooth internal cable routing, a nice rear wheel cut out and a short headtube for maximum adjustability when looking for a low front end all adds up to give you just what you want in a TT bike. Admittedly the colors do remind us of a certain CSC Cervelo, but rest assured this is no copycat. The small Austrian brand has put a lot of work into this TT bike, and they deserve the credit. Notice the Mach 1 aero wheels front and back. Some teams chose not to use disc wheels on technical courses or because of strong winds. These wheels look remarkably like the Stella Azura wheels, but rumor has it that these are yet another of Andreas Walser’s super-duper unlabeled products.
Levi has adopted a version of the ‘praying mantis’ tt position – seen here at the ToC prologue.
No Praying Mantis here
And finally, Floyd Landis had recently been riding a strange TT position with his hands way up in front of his face. Many people made fun of the “Floyd Landis Praying Mantis” TT position, and yet more and more riders seem to be adopting it. Levi Leipheimer, world TT champ Fabian Cancellara, Ryder Hesjedal and Michael Rasmussen are just some of the top riders adopting the Praying Mantis position. But from what we saw at the Med they are still the minority.
Standard flat extension TT bars are still the norm for the time being. Will the Praying Mantis position reign? Time will tell.