Race tech: Giro d'Italia 2014 road bikes

A diverse mix of gear for a rainy Grand Tour start

Aerodynamic bikes may be all the rage in the road bike market these days but you'd hardly know it by looking at the bikes used by riders starting stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia. Of the 22 teams on hand, only about half a dozen were primarily on aero rigs while another two or three fielded a mixed group. Nearly everyone else was on a nominally round-tubed machine. 

Several factors seemed to play a role in this decision. Many teams here are sponsored by companies that don't yet make an aero model, plus the second half of the route along the coastal edge of Northern Ireland was expected to include some potentially wicked crosswinds (that never really materialized) where deep-profile tubes could have proved tough to handle.

Even squads with easy access to aero bikes didn't use them, however, such as Astana, BMC, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and Tinkoff-Saxo. Mind you, three of those are sponsored by Specialized, who recently launched a new Tarmac model and may have wanted a little more attention paid that way.

Most teams certainly still opted for aero wheels, though, but section depths mostly hovered at a modest 30-50mm or so. We noticed plenty of 25mm-wide tubular tires, too, even from teams that don't have a wide-profile rim to match. Even stage winner Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) used 25mm-wide Vittoria tubulars on his Giant Propel Advanced machine.

Aerodynamic drawbacks or not to the mismatch, it seems that more than a few racers may have been prompted by the perpetually threatening weather to go the conservative route in terms of grip.


Author: James Huang

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