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The Tour de France - the biggest, most famous bike race of all - is an event fought more and more on marginal gains.
At this year's Grand Départ, the 22 participating teams parked up by Bilbao's San Mamés stadium, and readied their equipment under cloudy Basque skies. There, armed with a camera and a curious mind, Cycling Weekly went hunting for the latest tech. And we weren't disappointed.
Tadej Pogačar goes lightweight
Two-time race winner Pogačar is back with a vengeance at the Tour de France, having missed out on a third yellow jersey last time round.
With over 56,000m elevation in this year's edition, the UAE Team Emirates rider has prioritised saving weight. His bike is rigged up with lightweight Carbon TI X-Rotor discs, a Carbon TI chainring and bottle cages made from, yes, you guessed it, carbon fibre.
Pogačar is riding this year's race despite still feeling the effects of a broken wrist, suffered at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April.
To offer him extra comfort on the bike, handlebar brand ENVE has developed a custom, extra stiff SES Aero One-Piece bar for the Slovenian national champion. The project began in January, and took over four months to complete.
ENVE also 3D-printed top bearing covers for the UAE Team Emirates riders. A contact at the company told Cycling Weekly that the new component gives "greater compatibility with the IN-Route internal cable system" on the Colnago V4Rs.
One final quirky thing about Pogačar's bike is this little sticker he has on his race number.
If you're wondering what the '9' symbolises, it's the number of stages he has won at the Tour. In fact, every rider who has won a stage of the race gets a special sticker.
Are TT tyres the norm?
UAE Team Emirates were one of a number of teams running Continental Grand Prix 5000 TT tyres on stage one. The brand's website says the tyres offer "maximum speed" and "minimum weight", so they lend well to road races.
The riders on Ineos Grenadiers seemed split on whether to go for the TT option, or Continental's more versatile GP 5000 S. Egan Bernal went for the former, while, as you can see below, debutant Ben Turner preferred the latter.
Jonas Vingegaard ditches a chainring
While doing his recon of the Côte de Pike on the eve of the race, reigning champion Vingegaard was spotted running a single chainring.
A closer look showed he had a 50T chainring, with a 10-36 cassette. The only other rider to go 1x at Jumbo-Visma was Wout van Aert, who used a similar groupset at Paris-Roubaix.
A tiny cassette for Mathieu van der Poel
With 34T cassettes now commonplace in the WorldTour peloton, the one on Mathieu van der Poel's spare bike stood out as being particularly small.
Concentrating intently, we counted 30 teeth on the Dutchman's biggest cog. His front chainrings were 54T and 40T respectively.
Something that leaped out on the bikes of Van der Poel's Alpecin Deceuninck teammates was their metallic purple Elite bottle cages. Paired with the glossy purple of the Aeroad CFR, the colours were a sight to behold.
Van der Poel, who has been riding an updated version of the bike this year, went with a slick white, however.
A prototype BMC Teammachine?
AG2R Citroën's Ben O'Connor is riding a different bike to his teammates at this year's Tour.
The Australian's black BMC Teammachine SLR is a cut above those of his peers, and is handcrafted in the bike brand's Mpc (masterpiece) set-up, meaning it is fitted with the highest-end components on the market.
Paint jobs galore
It's not just the riders' kits that get switched out for the Tour, their bikes get special treatment, too. Here's our pick of the bunch.
Subtle sprint shifters
Ever wondered how sprinters click through the gears while cutting through the air in the drops? Well, they use satellite shifters, which are attached to the bars, and cut out of the bar tape.
Here's Mark Cavendish's trigger.
Sprint shifters aren't only for the fastmen, though. Romain Bardet and a handful of his dsm-firmenich teammates also had them fitted to their bikes.
Cavendish only opted for one, for his right hand, while Bardet had them on both sides.
A custom jockey wheel
Last but not least, here's a shot of the custom jockey wheel Cofidis' Guillaume Martin was sporting in Bilbao.
The component was produced by French brand Nova Ride, and is composed of ultra-lightweight carbon fibre. The rest of the Cofidis team were running standard Shimano Dura Ace set-ups.
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