10 The black stick
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.
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9 Anti-road rash kit
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.