As well as some pretty nice bikes, there were a number of new smaller products on show as the teams prepared ahead of the Grand Depart of the 2015 Tour de France in Utrecht.
A number of teams were wearing new helmets for the Tour, including this new Bell Gage lid for the riders from LottoNL-Jumbo. This is the first Bell helmet to feature the MIPS Brain Protection system, which aims to offer greater protection than a standard helmet.
The Gage comes with 26 vents, perfect for the heatwave that greeted the riders as they arrived in Utrecht on Wednesday, and apparently weighs just 240g.
The two other new helmets we spotted were both aero lids. This new Garneau helmet looks to be the company’s first attempt at an aero road helmet, and in our opinion looks quite similar to the Giro Air Attack. The helmet feature two vents at the front, and a large exhaust vent at the rear to allow hot air to escape.
Next up is this new time trial helmet from Giro, which will be used by IAM Cycling’s Jerome Coppel for Saturday’s 13.8km time trial. Like the Bell helmet it also features MIPS protection, and comes with a large mirror visor which is attached to the helmet using magnets along its rim.
This stubby-tailed design looks perfect for time trials in crosswinds or for riders with a tendency to move their heads a lot while riding, and we’d expect it to slot in alongside Giro’s existing long-tail Selector time trial lid.
Not new, but eye-catching nonetheless, were these yellow, green, and polka dot Specialized Prevail helmets which were lying about at the Astana team bus. After their impressive performance in the Giro d’Italia, the team are obviously feeling confident ahead of this year’s Tour.
Plenty of riders also had shiny new shoes as they headed out for their final training spin before the big day tomorrow. At 31 years old, Paul Martens will be the oldest debutant in this year’s Tour, and will be attempting to make it to Paris in these limited edition Shimano R321B shoes that have been produced to celebrate the race, and finished off with the flag of each rider.
A fair proportion will also be wearing Specialized’s new S-Works 6 road shoes, which feature a narrower heel cup to prevent the riders’ heels from slipping when the hammer goes down. The outer layer is constructed from a single piece of material, which apparently prevents stretch to ensure a good fit over a longer period of time.
However a number of riders were still using the old model of the S-Works shoe, mostly from Tinkoff-Saxo. We’re not sure whether this is due to low stock of the new shoe, or whether the luminous yellow of the old one just goes better with the team’s kit.
Katusha were one of a number of teams using CeramicSpeed components in among their Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 setup. Keep an eye out for Joaquim Rodriguez‘s Canyon Speedmax CF on tomorrow’s time trial, as the team were thinking of using a new, very big, CeramicSpeed rear derailleur cage which will apparently save 4-6 watts over a standard cage.
A number of other teams were using CyclingCeramic bits and bobs, with a number of IAM Cycling riders including Sylvain Chavanel using the French company’s aluminium alloy pulley wheels as opposed to the standard Shimano options.
As well as their standard Dogma F8 road bikes, Team Sky had their fleet of K8-S suspension bikes in preparation of the cobbles of stage four. Most of these had a similar setup to the bikes we saw at Paris-Roubaix back in April, although we were interested to see a new, noticeably more slender seatpost on the bike of Wout Poels, perhaps designed to offer extra flex to make the cobbles that little bit more bearable.
A big part of the mechanics’ job in the run up to the Tour is gluing tubular tyres. A lot of tubular tyres. The scale of this job becomes clear when you find out that most of the riders will have three different road bikes on the Tour, at least one of which will need to be built up from scratch, as well as a time trial bike and spare wheels.
Check out our guide to the route of the 2015 Tour de France.