Tour de France tech: Bikes and more from the stage 1 time trial

DÜSSELDORF, Germany (CT) – Stage 1 of the Tour de France is done and the wet weather caused havoc not just for the riders but also for the team mechanics. Wandering around the pits, eyes were to the sky as both riders and mechanics tried to work out what tyres…

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

DÜSSELDORF, Germany (CT) – Stage 1 of the Tour de France is done and the wet weather caused havoc not just for the riders but also for the team mechanics. Wandering around the pits, eyes were to the sky as both riders and mechanics tried to work out what tyres and kit they’d use to tackle the flat 14km course in the rain.

Here’s some of the gear we spotted.


Only two days ago Canyon showcased their collaboration with legendary German band Kraftwerk. The Ultimate CF SLX will be a limited run of only 21 bikes (the same as the number of Tour stages). Sat to one side of the Katusha-Alpecin team bus today was a single Canyon Speedmax time trial bike in the same paint scheme as the limited Ultimate CF SLX.

Wheel sponsor Zipp had also got in on the act and produced a matching pair of wheels: a full disc rear wheel, and the whale-inspired shape and deeper version of a 454 NSW up front. This is something we will be keeping an eye on as we’ve not previously seen this wheel in action.

Martin’s choice of rubber was the Continental Grand Prix TT in a 23mm. Shifting was taken care of by SRAM’s eTap electronic groupset.

While at the Katusha-Alpecin bus we were witness to team mechanics quickly covering the very coarse skateboard grip tape on Martin’s saddle with what looked like a lighter version of grip tape. Back at the 2015 world time trial championships Martin took some of the limelight when his saddle’s grip tape ripped a hole all the way through his chamois. We’re unsure how the team gets away with this modification as UCI rules state you can not modify equipment on the bike.

Martin ended up piloting the bike to fourth place.

[ct_gallery_start id=’ct_gallery1’]

The new Zipp NSW wheels. Deeper than the 454 model.
Katusha Kraftwerk-inspired logo.
Some serious ‘grip’ on that saddle.
Martin was running a 58-tooth big chainring.
Applying new griptape to Martin’s saddle.
Many riders used aero bottles and cages from Tacx and Elite.


Cofidis and Orbea

Wildcard team Cofidis was using the Basque-designed Orbea Ordu time trial bike. The team bike was kitted out with Vision Metron base bars and aero extensions. Metron’s disc rear wheel was matched with a Metron 90 front wheel, shod with Kenda’s SC (service course) tubulars (which are currently unavailable to the public).

Even though the course was short, Cofidis riders opted to take a bottle with them — Elite’s aero bottle and matching cage.

The Ordu has a proprietary stem but many Cofidis riders were using FSA-sponsored equipment with quite a few of the K-Force MTB-centric Drop models in use. This paired with a 3D-printed fairing on some tidied up the gap between the rear of the stem and the top of the top tube. The direct-mount calipers come from Tririg.

Cofidis also had something a little exciting tucked away to one side at the bus, but more of that in a few days …

[ct_gallery_start id=’ct_gallery1’]

This photo has it all: zip ties, 3D-printed fairings and top caps, plus bar tape on the end of TT extensions … for some odd reason.



With such a fast course it was a surprise to see Movistar leader Nairo Quintana using Abus’s recently released aero-specific road helmet as his lid of choice. Abus is in its first year of sponsorship with the Spanish squad, the latter having been with Catlike for many years.

Abus’ new helmet, the Gamechanger, is the German brand’s first foray into the aero helmet market. We first saw it in action at this year’s Paris-Roubaix on two of the team’s riders. We will be bringing you a full review of the helmet at a later date.

Other interesting helmets spotted included what seemed to be unbranded Lazer Victor models used by some Cofidis and Movistar riders. Neither Abus nor Orbea (which sponsors Cofidis) have time trial helmets in their line-up. AG2R-La Mondiale sponsor Ekoi, a relatively small company, had the team in a new helmet too. It looks to be a slight update to their TT1 model with a slightly more angular shape around the lower part of the helmet where it covers the ears.

Tony Martin sported a Giro Aerohead MIPS time trial helmet, obviously in a world champion’s colourway. It matched his jersey but not his Kraftwwrk bike. BMC team leader Richie Porte also rode with the Aerohead helmet but the much more expensive Ultimate version with a shell construction that includes TeXtreme™ carbon fibre, an advanced material that is claimed to be both lighter and stronger than many other carbon composites on the market.

[ct_gallery_start id=’ct_gallery1’]

Martin’s world champ’s helmet from Giro.
The Aerohead MIPS helmet.
Porte and the BMC team all used the Ultimate edition of the Aerohead, a $400 lid.
The new Ekoi TT helmet.
Quintana in the Abus Gamechanger. It’s actually an aero road helmet and not a full-on time trial helmet.
First impressions are of a very light and well-vented helmet. We will bring you a full review in the coming weeks.
The new Abus Gamechanger. The helmet of choice for Quintana on stage 1 of the Tour de France.


Cannondale’s disc TT bike

Cannondale-Drapac had Alberto Bettiol on the latest incarnation of the Slice time trial bike, the Superslice. The all-new disc-brake-equipped time trial bike has already seen action this year, as far back at Tirreno-Adriatico, but it’s the first time it’s been used at a Grand Tour.

Tektro’s in-house lightweight racing parts brand, TPR, provides calipers — Spyre SLCs — and interestingly they’re cable operated, not hydraulic.

Cannondale representatives on hand were giving nothing away apart from the fact its a whole new bike. There’s a new sleeker head tube, and the rear of the bike looks to have been refined a bit too. Rotor size was 160mm. Wheels were Mavic’s Comet Pro Carbon SLT Disc. At 1,610 grams for a 60mm deep rim with a disc hub the numbers stack up on what seems an impressive wheelset.

The rest of the build was pretty much standard team issue, with a Dura-Ace Di2 shifting setup, Cannondale SISL chainset, Vision bars and stem, and a Fizik saddle.

[ct_gallery_start id=’ct_gallery1’]

Mavic tyres on the Cannondale.


A super fast suit

Stage winner Geraint Thomas, and Sky team leader Chris Froome, were wearing a new skinsuit from Castelli today. Speaking with brand manager Steve Smith we found out that the new suit has gone through 80 hours of wind tunnel testing, it’s made from multiple new fabrics, and its construction method is new too. The major claim is that its aero qualities improve the faster the rider goes.

[ct_gallery_start id=’ct_gallery1’]

Castelli’s new skinsuit definitely has some interesting features and textures to it.
Notice the bobbles on the shoulders.
“The faster you go the better the suit performs”, says Steve Smith Castelli brand manager.
80 hours of windtunnel testing has gone in to producing the new Castelli skinsuit.


A new wheel

Over at both Bora-Hansgrohe and QuickStep Floors, we spotted an all new time trial disc wheel. Little is known about the wheel and even less was being said by both mechanics and staff from Specialized/Roval. The team has previously used the wheel at several events before the Tour, but it has managed to go under the radar so far.

[ct_gallery_start id=’ct_gallery1’]

The new Roval disc wheels.
Little is known about the new wheels from Roval.


And the rest

Finally, here’s a round-up of some of the other interesting items on show at today’s stage, including blue chains, Porte’s tiny TimeMachine, a few unbranded Lightweight wheels, and more.

Stay tuned for plenty more tech from the 2017 Tour de France.

[ct_gallery_start id=’ct_gallery1’]

Ceramic Speed have produced a blue UFO super-friction-free coating on their chains. We’ve seen the UFO coating before but not in blue.
LottoNL-Jumbo ride the Bianchi Aquila CV TT bikes.
A matching blue SRM PC8 head unit in team blue.
AG2R-La Mondiale use the Factor Slick, a bike that got its first outing at Paris-Nice.
Fulcrum Speed 55T tubular wheels for the Bahrain-Merida bikes.
Surprisingly the Merida Warp bikes had 11-27 cassettes on them.
Notice the coiled spring over the brake cable of the calliper.
Custom team-painted base bars.
Vision’s very aero-looking Metron chainset.
Astana are aboard Argon 18 bikes this year, a change from Specialized who sponsored them last year. French brand Corema continue as wheel sponsor.
There was quite a few unbranded Lightweight Autobahn wheels on show, including at Orica-Scott. The team usually use Pro disc wheels.
Orica-Scott’s Plasma bikes.
Campagnolo had new graphics on their Bora Ultra TT wheels.
Direct Energie is sponsored by the Spanish bike brand BH. Another set of Lightweight Autobahn wheels in action, unbranded to keep official team sponsor Vison happy.
Bahrain-Merida had the Warp bike as their weapon of choice.
Wildcard team Wanty-Groupe Gobert are sponsored by German bike brand Cube. This is their C-68 time trial model.
FDJ were using the Aerostorm DRS, a bike that is now three years old.
Nicholas Roche’s BMC TimeMachine getting a last-minute check over.
Porte used a Trispoke from Pro, shod with Vittoria Corsa tubulars.
A little grip for Porte to stay in place on the saddle.
Porte uses a Small BMC TeamMachine. The headtube is pretty interesting in this compact size.
Some seriously big pads over at Trek. Comfort is king.
Fabio Felline’s TT rig.
Steve Cummings is now British TT and road champ. This is the rear of his TT bike.
It’s not all brand new Shimano Dura-Ace — even on one of the top teams in the peloton they use older equipment.
We will probably see the Bontrager Aeolus 7 in action on some of the flatter road stages too.
Cummings, as well as the rest of the Dimension Data team, works with Drag 2 Zero for time trial fitting. You can make their logo out on the bars.
More decals on Cummings’ British national champ’s TT bike.
It’s British all the way, even to the bottom of the forks.
Cummings left at a time when it wasn’t raining, so the Continental GP Supersonic tyres would have been serviceable.


Trending on Velo

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.