Race tech: Tour de France, July 24, 2008
Bouygues Telecom's Time RXR Ulteam
The French Bouygues Telecom team has among its quiver a new RXR Ulteam road machine from Time. Visually speaking, the RXR Ulteam is somewhat of a hybrid of the existing VXRS Ulteam road and RXR time trial frames: the seat tube wears a deep aero profile with a wheel-hugging cutout, the top tube and down tube adopt a more triangular shape and the frame in general is more tightly creased.
Time reportedly continues to use its RTM (Resin Transfer Molding) manufacturing technique for the new RXR Ulteam but has supposedly toned down the stiffness somewhat relative to the VXRS, partially to make up for the deeper tube profiles. The 1000g claimed frame weight is also a bit heavier than VXRS' 915g figure but still plenty light, plus its slippery shape might actually be faster on the road.
Even so, this new model seems to be spending more time on top of the team car than on the road. Given how few of them we spotted, we're guessing the team might want to log some more testing time before relying on it in major events.
Up top there's the familiar integrated seatmast although Time has fitted the RXR with a new carbon two-bolt head (with titanium hardware) that provides 3cm of height adjustment. The front derailleur braze-on mount is height-adjustable as well for use with standard or compact cranksets.
What the new RXR Ulteam won't be, however, is inexpensive; projected retail cost is said to be in the neighborhood of €3999 although that will at least include the accompanying fork, headset, stem and seatpost head.
GPS guides the way for Christian Vande Velde and Garmin-Chipotle
Christian Vande Velde and his Garmin-Chipotle teammates have gained more than just a much-welcome wad of cash with their new title sponsor, Garmin. The GPS giant has also outfitted the entire team with its latest Edge 705 computer and the riders have wasted little time in taking advantages of its packed feature set, which includes the ability to pair up with their PowerTap rear hubs.
In addition, the team has uploaded each day's course on to each unit so the riders know exactly where they are, where they're headed and what key markers are coming up. These not only include sprint and KOM locations but also dangerous areas to pay particularly close attention and even seemingly mundane spots such as feed zones. In the mountains, detailed course profiles also let the riders know how much climbing is ahead of them and where the road might kick up in pitch or let off a bit.
According to the team's physiologist and trainer extraordinaire, Allen Lim, other teams may have similar computers on their bikes but Garmin-Chipotle is supposedly the only squad to have gone to such lengths to upload this much data.
New Spiuk Daggon helmets for AG2R and Agritubel squads
Spiuk has clearly stepped up its helmet game in a big way with its latest Daggon helmets, currently worn by both the AG2R and Agritubel teams (including stage 16 winner Cyril Dessel). The new lids feature an internal reinforcement skeleton and external carbon fiber patches to reinforce its 27 vents while deep internal channeling helps direct airflow across the top of the head. The new in-molded multi-piece shell also provides a decidedly stylish look as well.
Spiuk will also include its usual CompactFix retention system along with its convenient one-piece netted interior padding to ward off insects. Alternatively, Spiuk will also include more conventional padding for those looking to maximize the ventilation (or for those living in drier, less buggy climates).
Claimed weight for the Daggon is 270g and Spiuk will offer it in two sizes and a multitude of colors. The AG2R and Agritubel teams are still testing prototypes, though, so consumers won't be able to get one until late fall or early spring. Pricing is yet to be determined but is expected to be competitive with other top offerings.