Top ten bits of tech spotted at the Tour de France

The Tour de France is always a showcase for the newest tech. Here’s our pick of the bunch.

10 The black stick

Carrying a big stick at the Tour

Carrying a big stick at the Tour

Bolted beneath each rider’s bike was a black stick. We discovered that this was used by Dimension Data – whose logo appeared all over the television coverage – to report the position on the road of every rider. Although judging by the commentary on mountain stage breakaways there was a missing link somewhere between the riders and the small screen.

9 Anti-road rash kit

IAM Cycling in the aftermath on Stage 3

The aftermath on Stage 3 (Photo Watson)

Giant Alpecin had kit designed to reduce the amount of skin removed by falling off at speed. With the huge crashes on Stage Three they should have had plenty of opportunity to test its effectiveness, although we haven’t yet heard any news of the results.

8 Ceramicspeed extra-large jockey wheels

Faster than your average jockey

Faster than your average jockey

Ceramicspeed’s technology was well represented at the Tour, with Nibali’s and Sagan’s Specialized bikes featuring its wheel bearings. But we were taken by its oversized rear derailleur pulleys which the company claims can save four to six watts over a standard set-up.

7 Specialized Venge Vias

Cav likes his new Venge Vias

Cav likes his new Venge ViAS (Photo Watson)

Although it had had several outings before the Tour de France had even started, the Venge ViAS aero road bike with its headline-grabbing looks was much in evidence, with Mark Cavendish winning Stage Seven and Peter Sagan almost winning almost every stage.

6 New Giro time trial helmet

Giro's new TT helmet in the heat of battle (Photo Watson)

Giro’s new TT helmet in the heat of battle (Photo Watson)

Still not officially launched, this new stubby-tailed time trial helmet was used by IAM Cycling in the Stage 9 team time trial. Shorter tailed designs should be more efficient in cross-winds than their long tailed cousins and also work better if the rider moves his head out of the tucked position.

5 Nopinz skinsuit

Lotto's numbers were on show without pins

Lotto’s numbers were on show without pins

Team Lotto-Jumbo wore skinsuits for the individual and team time trials featuring Nopinz’s Speedpocket, in which their race numbers fitted inside a transparent insert in the back. Nopinz claims a saving of at least 3.5 watts over a pinned-on number – and if a pin comes loose the saving can be as much as 10 watts.

4 New Trek Madone

The new Madone. Chunky. (Photo Watson)

The new Madone. Chunky. (Photo Watson)

Another bike which debuted before the Tour de France, the new Madone features much more chunky aero tube profiles than its predecessor and Trek’s Isospeed decoupler between the seat tube and the rest of the frame to make the ride a bit more comfortable.

3 FSA wireless groupset

Look mum, no cables on FSA's prototype groupset

Look mum, no cables on FSA’s prototype groupset (Photo Sudana)

Marked “Prototype” in large capital letters, this FSA groupset is electronic. There was no evidence of wires leaving the brake levers, so it looks as if it’s also wireless, with the battery operating the derailleurs hiding somewhere in the frame.

2 Look’s new time trial bike

Crazy Look in the team time trial

Crazy Look in the team time trial (Photo Watson)

Bretagne Seché were riding a new time trial bike from their bike sponsor Look. As well as a crazy paint job this looked to have some other interesting features such as a proprietary chainset and an ultra-narrow headset profile.

1 Rapha’s new rain jacket

Tour de France - Stage 21

Sky’s wet weather gear in evidence on Stage 21 (Photo Watson)

With it raining on Team Sky’s parade on the trip into Paris, Rapha’s new Pro Team Shadow jacket was in evidence on Stage 21 and on other wet stages. Worn instead of a standard jersey, Rapha claims that it’s waterproof whilst also comfortable and breathable.