A mix of aero and lightweight machines for Team Katusha
The Katusha team is again on Ridley frames at this year's Tour de France with riders choosing between the aero-themed Noah and the lighter-weight Helium.
The Noah is a particularly interesting shape, almost being more of a time trial bike than one made for road racing. Key features include the unique split fork blades and seat stays co-developed with the folks at Oval Concepts that are said to help pull air out and away from each wheel's churning spokes and thus reducing drag.
Tube sections are notably deep and teardrop-shaped throughout as well, while the tapered front end and stout bottom bracket construction also suggest good handling precision and drivetrain efficiency.
The Helium, on the other hand, trades in the Noah's aero gains for a more comfortable package that also sheds more than 350g. Tube shapes are much closer to round on Ridley's more all-purpose platform and the seat stays are positively tiny in comparison to the deep and stout ones on the Noah.
Like the Noah, there's still a focus on drivetrain and handling efficiency, though, with another tapered front end and well-bolstered bottom end.
Team bikes are draped in a complete Campagnolo Record group from head to toe with Campagnolo also supplying carbon tubular wheels in various depths, all wrapped with Vredestein tires. Cockpit and seating components come courtesy of Deda and Selle San Marco, while Look KéO pedals, Elite bottle cages, and Cateye computers finish out the build.
All-business Canyon Ultimate CF SLX frames for Omega Pharma-Lotto
Aside from the water-themed custom paint job of team leader Jurgen Van den Broeck, Omega Pharma-Lotto's starkly painted white-and-black Canyon Ultimate CF SLX are all function and little flash. That being said, Van den Broeck has clearly demonstrated that the function is really all that matters, anyway.
Canyon has concentrated on stiffness-to-weight for its flagship model, which includes a bigger-than-typical 1 1/4"-to-1 1/2" tapered front end, a gigantic head tube-down tube junction, a wildly asymmetrical seat tube, and huge chain stays, all intended to yield as little unwanted frame flex as possible – and as our upcoming firsthand long-term review will soon show, the German company has been quite successful.
Even so, Omega Pharma-Lotto's bikes are surprisingly comfortable as well, owing to the tiny seat stays and relatively small-diameter 27.2mm seatpost.
Team bikes are built with full Campagnolo Record groups with Mavic wheels (usually the company's top-end Cosmic Carbone Ultimates), Ritchey bars, stems, and posts, Look KéO pedals, Selle Italia saddles, Continental tires, Tacx Tao Carbon cages, and CycleOps computers.
One interesting bit of kit that we haven't seen before, though, is the team's chain watchers. As opposed to the rest of the field's catchers that are mounted to the front derailleur braze-on – and thus prone to rotating inwards under load – Omega Pharma-Lotto's are rigidly mounted to the water bottle mounts for a much more secure foundation.
Lampre-Vini Farnese's bright neon Wilier Cento 1 SL
Lampre-Vini Farnese had previously rolled out the neon yellow edition of Wilier's Cento 1 SL for just its top riders at the Giro d'Italia but saw fit to equip the entire team for the Tour de France.
The Cento 1 SL is a more evolved version of the standard Cento 1 that sheds about 130g, wearing the same external shape but swapping in a more advanced carbon fiber blend and nanoparticle-infused resin, a more aggressively machined bottom bracket sleeve, carbon fiber headset cups in place of aluminum ones, and even a pared-down paint finish over the trick new top sheet, which comprises barely more than some clearcoat and a few smatterings of neon green.
Aside from that, the standard Cento 1 design features carry over, including the downward-arcing asymmetrical chain stays looping into stout wishbone-style seat stays, an integrated seat mast, and a square-profile lower head tube.
Holy neon! Hard to miss the brightly covered Wilier Cento 1 SLs of Team Lampre-Vini Farnese.
Team bikes are kitted out in a suitably Italian-themed package. Drivetrain and braking duties are handled by Campagnolo's Record group, wheels are provided by sister company Fulcrum, tires are from Vittoria, and seating arrangements are provided by fi'zi:k.
Finishing things off are Ritchey bars and stems (and seatpost heads), Time iClic pedals, Tacx Tao Carbon cages, and Garmin Edge 500 computers.
A closer look at the Rabobank Giant TCR Advanced SL
2009 Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov and the rest of his Rabobank team have once again arrived at the Tour de France aboard the Giant TCR Advanced SL.
Officially unveiled two years ago, Giant's TCR Advanced SL includes all of the design features now considered virtually compulsory for modern frames: a tapered front end, an extra-wide bottom bracket shell with press-fit cups, an integrated seat mast, and optional internal wiring for Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 system.
Claimed weight for the frame, fork, seatmast head and hardware is just 1,497g.
Rabobank team bikes are an almost all-Shimano affair with either Dura-Ace 7900 or Di2 complete groups, Dura-Ace carbon tubular wheels of various depths, Dura-Ace pedals, and handlebars, stems, and computers from sister company PRO.
Tires come from Vittoria, though, and saddles come courtesy of Selle Italia. Bottles and cages are from Dutch company Tacx.