None of GB’s riders are racing on the new Hope-Lotus HBT at the European Track Championships this week, and they might not do so before the Paris Olympics this August.
British Cycling unveiled an updated model of the track bike last July, ahead of the World Championships, where it was used just once for homologation.
The manufacturers - Hope Technology, Renishaw and Lotus Engineering - are now against the clock to produce a fleet before the summer, with the squad still waiting to receive the updated model.
Sprinter Jack Carlin, an Olympic silver medallist, said he has not yet ridden the new bike, and does not expect to soon.
“I imagine the first race you’ll see us with them at is the Olympics,” he said. “There are a lot of riders, and that doesn’t mean we’re going to be the first in line to get them. It might be that they want to get them all out at the same time. We’ll just have to wait and see on that one.
"The focus just now is on the physical process goals, and the kit's the cherry on top when you go into the Games."
A press contact at British Cycling told Cycling Weekly the bikes are likely to be launched around April, just four months before the Olympics.
The new Hope-Lotus design has the same characteristically wide seatstays as the first edition, but now features a split seatpost, ribbed forks and aero-enhanced handlebars.
According to GB performance director Stephen Park, it is “the most advanced bike that has ever been ridden by British athletes”.
Still, it has only been used once in competition, steered by Charlie Tanfield in the qualifying round of the team pursuit at last year’s World Championships. Tanfield crashed, and GB failed to qualify.
Pursuiter Dan Bigham, who also works as an aerodynamicist for Ineos Grenadiers, said he will test ride the bike for the first time next week, immediately after the European Championships.
“I think it’s really well engineered,” Bigham said. “It’s nice to see how they’ve iterated on the previous generation. There were flaws in certain aspects of that design, how it interacts with the rider, and just general cleanliness of design. I think they were time-pressed to get that design out, so there were a few rough edges that they’ve polished nicely.”
On Wednesday’s opening night of the European Championships, GB riders raced on the first-generation Hope-Lotus bikes, released in October 2019. Bigham rode his own pink Pinarello Bolide.
Other nations used newly produced bikes, such as France, whose sprinter Rayan Helal was spotted on Look’s new P24.
The wait for new bikes did not hamper GB’s medal hopes, though. The squad claimed two silver medals on Wednesday, thanks to Will Tidball in the elimination race and the women’s team sprint squad.
Tidball raced on an outdated Cervélo T4 track bike, used by GB prior to the Tokyo Olympics. Curiously, the 23-year-old won the scratch race world title last year on an unreleased, 3D-printed bike, which has since gone back into hiding.
Both the GB men’s and women’s team pursuit quartets will ride in gold medal finals this evening. The men will face world champions Denmark, while the GB women - the top-ranked team in the world - will take on Italy.
The European Championships are taking place in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, and run until this Sunday, 14 January.
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