Andy Schleck has managed to retain most of his key support riders from last year with the move to the new Luxembourg-based LEOPARD TREK squad but in terms of equipment, virtually everything else has changed.
He's now on a Trek Madone instead of his old Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3, Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 electronic group instead of SRAM Red, Bontrager wheels now substitute for his familiar Zipps, and Bontrager will also supply saddles, stems, and bars in contrast to his old Prologo and FSA bits – in total a monumental shift for a professional athlete that relies so much on his gear.
Despite his youth, Schleck is admirably pragmatic and upbeat about the situation.
"For a lot of riders it's like a disaster but for me, you know, things change – I changed teams!" he told us at the team camp in Palma de Mallorca. "I'm open for every new thing. When you go to a new bike you always notice differences immediately but you also have to get used to it – and the more I get used to it, the more I like it. I'm not allowed to say it's 'f***ing awesome' but it is."
Many riders of his calibre often insist on at least carrying over an old saddle, given how personal an item it is – and regardless of whether it may create a conflict with a new sponsor. However, Schleck is even open-minded there, too, and is already working with Bontrager to get things dialed in with a custom model built upon a discontinued shell.
"The first ones I didn't like but then that's how it works with Trek and us – I gave them feedback and now they made me a saddle which I'm really happy with," he said. "You don't have to accept everything but you have to at least try.
"You cannot get a new saddle and look at it and say, 'It's shit,' you know? You at least have to try it. At first I tried it and didn't like it but now I have a saddle I like. I will have to see how it is on a long distance because it's quite hard but I like a hard saddle and then we go from there."
For sure, the transition was also eased by the fact that team mechanics were able to replicate his old position almost perfectly so while all of the contact points themselves have changed, they're at least in a familiar place.
"I was sitting good on the bike last year and I just want to be close to the position and then look at what we can change," Schleck said. "But really, it's just millimetres."
Most of Schleck's gear consists of off-the-shelf items – even his lighter-weight Madone 6.9 SSL frameset was introduced last year. But the team is, however, already working with Bontrager to develop a new carbon tubular wheelset that eventually will presumably replace the current Aeolus 5.0.
The new as-yet-unnamed model sports the same 50mm section depth as the current model but like Zipp's successful 303, it's much, much wider – measuring nearly 25mm at the tyre bed – for better aerodynamics and improved tyre casing support. Unlike Zipp's familiar profile, though, the new Bontrager rim uses parallel brake tracks.
According to team liaison Ben Coates, the wider bed offers excellent support for the team's current 25mm-wide Schwalbe tubulars, too (though he adds the riders will likely use 22mm-wide tyres during the race season). Ultimately, Coates says the new wheel will serve as LEOPARD TREK's 'workhorse' race wheels for most situations this season.
Neither Coates nor anyone else at Trek or Bontrager would offer up any technical details on the new wheelset but based on the current version, we'd expect Schleck's version to come in somewhere between 1,400-1,500g for the set given the team's use of lighter carbon-bodied hubs with DT Swiss internals instead of the standard Bontrager alloy units.
We do, however, have a total weight for Schleck's complete bike as pictured here: 7.23kg (15.94lb). The missing SRM PowerControl 7 computer head will add a few more grams on top of that but we would expect that swapping in shallower-depth wheels and more typical tires plus switching out the SRM crank for a standard Dura-Ace model will likely bring the total much closer to the UCI-mandated 6.8kg weight limit when it comes time to attack the high mountains.