This article originally appeared on BikeRadar.
Just 23 years old, neo-pro Belgian Willem Wauters moved up after two years as an espoir to represent Vacansoleil-DCM at the Santos Tour Down Under. Wauters finished mid-pack in 81st position but his team nabbed the second spot in the teams classification, all with the help of Bianchi's revamped Oltre XR.
There's little to differentiate the new Oltre XR from the previous one visually but updates in carbon fiber materials and lay-up schedules have reportedly dropped 30g of weight and boosted rigidity by 20 percent, according to Bianchi. Otherwise, the sleek shape carries over including its tapered 1 1/8-to-1 1/2" front end, BB30 bottom bracket, sleek deep-section telescoping carbon fiber seatpost, and the uniquely stepped seat stay profile that starts out spindly at the two-piece aluminum dropouts but morphs into a rather burly looking wishbone.
According to our friends at Competitive Cyclist, a bare 55cm frame (Wauters rides a 57cm) is just under 900g.
While many other teams seem to be switching to deeper and more comprehensive relationships with fewer sponsors (Shimano, notably, now seems to require teams to use its wheels and PRO cockpit components as an all-or-nothing deal), Wauters' Bianchi is built with a comparatively hodge-podge mix of bits.
Campagnolo supplies its Super Record EPS electronic transmission but the BB386 EVO crankset – adapted for use on the BB30 shell – comes from FSA as does the stem, handlebar, and headset. KMC provides the X11SL chain, Selle San Marco supplies Wauters with its Zoncolan saddle, and the squishy (and grippy) bar tape comes courtesy of Lizard Skins.
FFWD provides Vacansoleil-DCM with a variety of carbon tubular wheels, all wrapped with Vredestein rubber, CycleOps gives Wauters a running stream of data with the new Joule GPS computer, and finally, Look's KéO Blade pedals are fitted to the ends of the cranks. No power meter was installed.
Interestingly, team bikes at the Tour Down Under also had FSA brakes, but not the top-end K-Force model. Instead, Wauters' bike had modest Gossamer Pro calipers installed. According to Bianchi marketing and communications man Fred Morini, this was strictly an issue of supply timing as the K-Force units were set to arrive a couple of weeks after the race and the Gossamers were merely a stopgap.
In addition, team bikes are built around Bianchi's dedicated electronic-only version of the Oltre XR with clean internal routing but with batteries still mounted externally atop the down tube. Morini says the team will soon move to an internal layout in the coming months, though, so we expect Vacansoleil-DCM's rig to get both slightly lighter and cleaner looking later in the season.
Total weight as pictured is 7.40kg (16.31lb).
Note the electronic-only routing