Tour de France bikes: John Degenkolb’s Giant Propel Advanced SL (video)

We take a look at the aero race bike of green jersey hopeful John Degenkolb.

Like fellow green jersey contenders Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish, big German sprinter John Degenkolb will spend most of the 2015 Tour de France aboard an aero road bike, namely the Giant Propel Advanced SL.

John Degenkolb's Giant Propel Advanced SL aero down tube

The down tube is shaped to be aerodynamic even with a water bottle attached

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Like Cavendish’s Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS, the Propel is claimed by its maker to be the fastest aerodynamic bike in the world, featuring tube shapes that have been designed to create the lowest possible drag from every yaw angle using data compiled from Computational Fluid Dynamics analysis.

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Like the Defy Advanced SL and TCR Advanced, the other models that sit alongside this bike at the top of Giant’s range, John Degenkolb’s Propel features an integrated seatpost which apparently offers improved aerodynamic performance while simultaneously reducing weigh and increasing comfort. It also provides a good place to zip tie the bracket for the race number as seen below.


The integrated seatpost provides a convenient place to put the bracket for race numbers

Like the vast majority of the Tour’s riders, Degenkolb will be running Shimano Dura-Ace Di2. This allows the Giant-Alpecin man to run sprint shifters on the inside of the drops for easy shifting on the final run for the line. More surprisingly, Degenkolb is also using satellite shifters on the tops, a setup more usually saved for the mountains, perhaps allowing for easier shifting when just cruising along in the bunch.


The rear brakes of John Degenkolb’s Giant Propel might be unconventional, but are at least in a standard position

While most of the peloton’s aero bikes feature standard Campagnolo or Shimano brakes, although often positioned in very non-standard places, Degenkolb’s Giant Propel comes with aero V-brakes from Taiwanese company Fouriers. These are effectively side-pull cantilever brakes, and sit close against the tailing edge of the fork and the front and the seatstays at the rear.

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With this brake design only able to accommodate up to 25mm tyres, we’d expect reigning Paris-Roubaix champion Degenkolb to switch onto the Giant Defy for the cobbles of stage four, which comes with additional brake clearance to allow him to run 28mm tyres.


The lack of tyre clearance on the brakes means the Defy will be used for the cobbles of stage four.

With the exception of the Focus Izalco Max of Ag2r-La Mondiale, the whole peloton is now using internal cable routing, so it was now surprise to see it on Degenkolb’s Giant Propel. However the cable routing isn’t quite as neat as on some of the other bikes on the Tour, with the brake cables still striking a line down from the bars to the front brake, and the shifter cable having to make its way round to this port on the top tube.


The Di2 cable enters the frame just behind the headset

It’s a similar story at the back where the rear derailleur cable exits the seatstay a good couple of inches from its final destination, rather than coming out of the very end like on other bikes. However the mechanics have stepped in here, zip-tying the cable to the stay to make it that little bit more aerodynamic and keep it out of the way for maintenance.


The rear derailleur cable is zip tied to the seat stay to make it that little bit more aero

And finally, cyclists are known for being quite a superstitious bunch, and John Degenkolb is clearly no different. The sprinter has a MyKnoacky lucky charm attached to the right hand side of the down tube just behind the head tube, allowing him to touch wood whenever he’s heading into a dangerous stage finish.


John Degenkolb seems to be as superstitious as the rest of the peloton

Will this be the bike to carry John Degenkolb to the green jersey in Paris? We’ll just have to wait and see…

Check out our look at the men who will contest the green jersey.