Giant launched its revamped TCR Advanced SL to the world in late June and not two weeks later did the company unveil the brand-new Rabobank edition at the team presentation in Les Herbiers, France just prior to the start of this year's Tour de France.
While the consumer bike is finished in a rather stark bare clearcoat with dark grey logos, Rabobank's edition is a bit cheerier-looking with a gloss white base and brighter orange and blue graphics as compared to years past. It's still far from over the top but it's almost as if Giant has finally allowed one of the graphic designers to have some more leeway. Either way, it's a decidedly more modern look and one that's easier to pick out of the crowd than before.
Underneath the paint, though, Giant says Rabobank's TCR Advanced SL chassis is the same as the everyday version about to land on showroom floors. The overall appearance and design language are similar to last year's version but there are a number of key differences, the most significant of which is a move to a 1 1/4-to-1 1/2in front end that Giant says provides a whopping 40 percent improvement in "steering stiffness".
While pundits may scoff at the likelihood of such a claim, keep in mind that steerer tube rigidity is a much more substantial issue with increasing frame size – and the Dutch Rabobank squad is chock-full of vertically gifted riders such as Lars Boom, whose bike is profiled here, and team leader Robert Gesink.
In addition to being newly reinforced up front, Giant says the new frames are also lighter by as much as 148g (nearly a third of a pound). Claimed weight is now as low as 820g though Boom's is likely to be a fair bit heavier owing to the large size and thick coat of paint.
Tube shapes have been subtly refined throughout, too, with slightly more rounded forms in many areas, a shallower integrated seatmast base, an even more compact rear triangle, and neatly executed internal cable routing.
Shimano continues on as the team's primary component sponsor and Boom's bike is equipped with a complete Dura-Ace Di2 electronic group. Shimano also provides pedals and a variety of wheels – 50mm-deep carbon tubulars are pictured here – and sister company PRO supplies the cockpit parts.
Interestingly, nearly all of the Rabobank riders have opted for prototype PRO stems and integrated cockpits with the new 1 1/4in steerer clamp size but Boom's machine is fitted with Giant's own Contact forged aluminum stem instead. According to Giant global communications manager Andrew Juskaitis, Boom simply just likes it better though it's also possible that it's due to the Giant stem's somewhat rare 115mm extension length.
Completing Boom's team-issue build is a fi'zi:k Antares saddle, Vittoria tires, and Tacx Tao Carbon cages. Total weight as pictured is 7.11kg (15.67lb).
This article originally appeared on BikeRadar