Several of the key sprinters teams in the 2012 Tour de France turned up at the start line of Monday’s stage two complete with aerodynamic helmets.
There has been a trend over the past season of riders sporting covers over the air vents in their helmets, as well as using skinsuits and more aerodynamic road bikes, such as the Specialized Venge and Cervelo S5.
Mark Cavendish was one of the first to embrace the use of helmet covers on his Sky Kask lid, and now other teams have taken note – plus Giro launched the Air Attack aero helmet just before the Tour de France.
On Monday, Lotto-Belisol arrived for the stage two start in Visé with covers over their Lazer helmets. The team will hope to lead-out sprinter Andre Greipel to the stage win in the expected fast bunch sprint in Tournai.
Garmin-Sharp also went aero, with team members including Briton David Millar wearing the Giro Air Attack helmets. They’ll be leading out sprinter Tyler Farrar.
Teams are fighting for every scrap of advantage over other squads as they lead out their sprinters in the most efficient way possible. As the lead-out trains form up, the sprinters shelter behind their men lined-up in front of them, slipstreaming to build up maximum velocity with minimum effort before launching themselves to the line. Paying attention to equipment details can add up to an aerodynamic advatage over other teams. That’s the theory…
On stage one, British overall hope Bradley Wiggins was the only member of the Sky outfit to have a cover on his yellow Kask helmet – the squad all wore yellow helmets as they are leading the team classification.
Rabobank also had selected team members in the Giro Air Attack during the opening road stage.
Notably, though, stage one winner Peter Sagan had his regular Liquigas-Cannondale vented Rudy Project helmet. Seemingly no need for extra aerodynamics for the Slovak sensation.
Sky leader Bradley Wiggins sporting covered Kask helmet during stage one
Rabobank’s Bram Tankink wearing Giro’s Air Attack helmet
Mark Cavendish with his covered Kask helmet during the Giro d’Italia in May
Giro go stumpy with new Air Attack helmet
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Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour’s time trials
CW’s Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation – chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Cycling Weekly’s live text coverage schedule