We made the trip to the Italian Riviera for the start of the Giro d'Italia to see some of the bikes and equipment that the teams used in the first team time trial stage.
The Giro d’Italia kicked off on Saturday with a 17.6km team time trial from San Lorenzo al Mare to San Remo. Of course the most important news was the victory for Orica-Greenedge, putting Simon Gerrans in the maglia rosa for the first road stage, but our tech team were on hand to have a look at the time trial bikes and equipment that swept along the Ligurian coast.
After its first time trial outing at the Giro del Trentino last month, it was time for SRAM Wireless to hit the big time as it adorned Domenico Pozzovivo’s bike for Saturday’s team time trial.
For the most part there was very little that we hadn’t seen before. As you’d expect the front and rear derailleurs were unchanged, still with the slight extension at the back which we think contains the CR2032 coin batteries which provide power to each component.
However what was new was the mysterious box position on an upside-down Garmin mount between the aero bars. Our first guess was that this might perform a similar function to Shimano Di2’s junction box, perhaps positioned outside the frame due to the slimmer tube shapes on the team’s Focus Izalco Chrono Max time trial bikes. But with each individual component expected to transmit its own signal there shouldn’t be any need for such a box, leaving us a little flummoxed.
The SRAM Wireless bare-end shifter buttons also remain a mystery, with the AG2R mechanics wrapping them underneath bar tape at the end of the aero bars.
The team were also rocking some eye-catching new overshoes from clothing supplier Descente. Not only did they look pretty flash, but were also covered with dimples similar to a golf ball to improve airflow over the surface.
One of the prettiest bikes on show in San Remo was Richie Porte’s Pinarello Bolide, custom painted in white, green, and gold in honour of Australia’s national time trial champion.
The wheels come from equipment sponsor Pro, including the new three-spoke wheel that we first spotted at last year’s Vuelta, topped with 23mm FMB tyres. The rest of Team Sky were running a mix of 22 and 23mm tyres from FMB and Veloflex, a departure from the fashion for wider tyres due to the simple nature of the course.
However Porte was certainly standing out from the crowd with his custom aero bars. Combined with some pretty comfy-looking pads, these have raised Porte’s time trial position by 2cm since 2014, allowing him to narrow his shoulders by 10cm.
One Sky rider who was not so interested in marginal gains was Elia Viviani, who had a rear facing Shimano action camera mounted underneath his saddle using a K-Edge mount.
Strangely there were actually two bikes painted up in Australian colours at the start line in San Lorenzo al Mare, with Orica-Greenedge strangely turning up with 2014 national champion Michael Hepburn’s Scott Plasma bike from last season, which was also clad with a 10-speed Dura-Ace Di2 groupset. We’re not sure whether Hepburn actually rode this relatively retro machine, or whether it was just there for a show of national pride.
Lotto NL-Jumbo also appeared to have turned up on the Italian Riviera with a bit of a mish-mash of kit. Although all of the riders were able to start on the 2015 version of the Bianchi Aquila CV time trial bike, a number of the spare bikes were the 2014 model, complete with green details from the team’s days as Belkin Pro Cycling.
The team were also running a mysterious front wheel, stickered up in order to please equipment sponsor Shimano, although the Pro rear disc wheel did at least look like the genuine product.
We were also interested to see the wheel choice of Tinkoff-Saxo. Although Alberto Contador and co. mixed and matched their wheels, with Vision Metron tri-spokes on the front of thie Specialized Shiv time trial bikes, but Lightweight Autobahns at the rear.
Trek Factory Racing had a couple of neat customisations on the team’s Trek Speed Concept time trial bike. First up were the mounts that the team mechanics had managed to knock up for the SRM head units which were too wide to be position between the aero bars. Calvin Watson also had tape covering the vital numbers on his power meter, either stuck on to hide the stats from prying photographers, or to keep Watson’s minds off the scary power figures that would be appearing in front of him during the 17.6km team time trial.
Trek Factory Racing had also come up with a slightly sleeker solution for the Di2 junction box, which was neatly positioned behind the aero bars.
And finally, to show that the equipment in the pro peloton is not always as sleek as it appears, the Vini Fantini mechanics had to resort to zip ties and a lot of insulating tape in order to attach the transponder to the chainstays of the De Rosa team bikes.