The 2023 Tour France Femmes avec Zwift is in full swing. While only in its second edition, the race is already one of the biggest on the calendar, and as always when the stakes are high, there's scope for interesting tech.
Over the first two stages, Cycling Weekly went behind the scenes in the team paddock, on the hunt for eye-catching insights.
We found custom components and hidden markings, as well as special edition bikes and old-school set-ups. Here's a run-down of all the tech we spotted at the race.
A bike fit for a champion
First up, let's take a look at the bike Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) is using to defend her race title; a Canyon Aeroad CFR, with world champion regalia.
Like Tadej Pogačar did at the men's Tour, the Dutchwoman has opted to keep things as light as possible with her set-up. She's running Zipp's lightest tubeless wheelset - the 353 NSW - and has chosen Elite's Leggero Carbon bottle cages.
A small tie keeps Van Vleuten's Garmin from ending up at the roadside.
The world champion isn't the only rider taking extra care to keep her headset secure. UAE Team ADQ sprinter Chiara Consonni is using this aero mount for her Wahoo at the race, while her team-mates have all chosen standard ones.
Is it time to un-slam stems?
Slam your stem, ride faster. For years, cyclists lived by this maxim. But how much comfort should you sacrifice for a more aggressive position?
Lifeplus-Wahoo's Natalie Grinczer clearly prefers a more upright position when she’s riding. She has added three spacers to her headset, elevating the height of her bars.
It's a similar story for Henrietta Christie (Human Powered Health), who herself has opted for two spacers. The New Zealander has also gone for a longer custom Energy SCR stem to extend her reach.
Riders' personal tech choices often have to fall within the parameters of their teams' sponsors. Still, depending on how they like to ride, and their role in the squad, many still find the scope to add custom componentry.
The saddle above belongs to Georgia Williams (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB), and is unique among her team-mates.
Williams's saddle is a Prologo Dimension 143, complete with the brand's dimpled CPC technology. According to Prologo, CPC provides "vibration absorbing, grip and position stability", and helps prevent riders slipping forwards during harder efforts.
Satellite shifters are common nowadays among sprinters, but Ceratizit-WNT's Marta Lach's are striking for where they are placed.
While most choose to have them in the drops, for when they are sprinting at full tilt, the 25-year-old prefers hers under the tops. It's a strategy that riders tend to use in Cobbled Classics, like Paris-Roubaix, when it's easier and more comfortable to shift while gripping the bars.
Lidl-Trek came prepared for the hilly parcours of this year's Tour de France Femmes. Lauretta Hanson's bike is fitted with a larger rear cog, giving her a wide gear ratio at the race.
A closer look showed the Australian is running a 10-33T cassette, with what looks like a mammoth jump to her biggest cog.
With all of Team Coop - Hitec Products riding Giant TCRs, it was a surprise to see a De Rosa bike outside the team bus on stage one.
The bike in question belongs to the squad's leader, Jenny Rissveds, and comes as part of a private sponsorship deal she has, a mechanic told Cycling Weekly.
Wheels for climbing
How many spokes do you count on this Cofidis rider's wheel?
The correct answer is 12 - they're split into six sets of two. The team rolled these carbon wheels out for the second stage, which counted almost 2,500m of elevation and barely an inch of flat road.
According to the brand, Corima, this MCC WS+ model is "light for fast climbing" and "stiff for optimal performance". Only three of Cofidis's riders opted for them, though: Rachel Neylan, Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin and Morgane Coston.
If you ask Trek, the colourway on Elisa Balsamo's Tour de France bike is "chroma ultra-iridescent". For the Italian, however, it's a "unicorn bike".
Balsamo's Madone is the same as the one Mads Pedersen used in the men's race, and is part of Trek's new Project One ICON range of paint schemes.
Canyon-Sram are also showcasing their own custom colourway at the Tour de France Femmes. Their Canyon CFR race bikes are adorned with the orange, pink and yellow of Zwift, the exercise platform that sponsors the team, as well as the race.
Finally, there's a subtle detail hidden on the bikes of Team Coop - Hitec Products. Specially for the Tour de France Femmes, their wheel supplier Hunt has sent them custom rims, inscribed with the start towns and finishes of the race's eight stages.
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