Alongside the 12 stages of racing at the 2019 Tour de France – with 12 different winners – there has been plenty of fascinating tech on show at this year’s race.
New tech including tubeless tyres, while 12-speed groupsets are making their official debut at this year’s Tour after being introduced over the past year into the WorldTour peloton. Custom frames, wheels, components and more are on display as each brand vies for attention as the world watches the biggest race in the sport.
UAE Team Emirates’ Alexander Kristoff became the first rider to take a WorldTour victory on tubeless tyres earlier this year. Despite a less successful race with the tyres at Paris-Roubaix, the team have continued to race on the Vittoria Corsa tyres and at least half of the team have been racing with the tyres at this year’s Tour de France.
EF Education First, who again use Vittoria tyres, and the Specialized-sponsored teams Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck-QuickStep have also been seen racing on the tyre technology during the season and at the Tour de France.
Continental tyres are used by several WorldTour teams but have yet to be seen being raced on the brand’s tubeless offerings. On stage 11, however, Movistar Team riders including current world champion Alejandro Valverde, were seen racing on Continental GP5000 tubeless tyres for the stage in conjunction with Campagnolo Bora WTO 45 wheels – the first time Cyclingnews has seen Continental’s tubeless offerings at a WorldTour race.
Not always. Despite certain manufacturers paying seven-figure sums to support and provide equipment for some WorldTour teams, they often have the option to use other brands due to a 'performance first' clause in their sponsorship contracts.
Team Ineos made headlines earlier in the race by showing that a principle team partner in Shimano didn’t quite cut the mustard in terms of weight savings for wheels.
The British WorldTour squad have at least 16 pairs of Lightweight Meilenstein Obermayer carbon wheels, at around £5,000 per set, in an attempt to save a few hundred grams on their bikes. The question remains as to why the team, with by far the biggest budget in the sport, have to worry about the weight of their bikes when the majority of top-tier bikes can be built with disc brakes and come in under the UCI minimum weight limit of 6.8kg without a worry.
Several other teams aren't always sponsor-correct either, with Mitchelton-Scott’s Adam Yates opting for a marker pen on his preferred tyre brand over the options provided by team sponsor Pirelli, while Groupama-FDJ’s leader Thibaut Pinot runs Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 series wheels despite the updated R9100 series wheels being launched around three years ago.
June and July are always saturated with new bike launches as manufacturers try to piggyback onto the biggest annual sporting event in the world. If truth be told, however, the sheer quantity of new bikes seems to get lost in the noise of the numerous launches, let alone the fact there is a race taking the headlines.
In the last month, we’ve seen a new Cannondale SuperSix Evo, Scott Addict RC, Specialized Shiv TT, Wilier Zero SLR, Cube Litening C:68X, Cannondale CAAD13 and Colnago V3Rs, before we even start mentioning the new wheels and finishing kit components.
All custom everything
The race also gives plenty of national champions, star riders and classification leaders the chance to race in custom kit, accessories, bikes and more, all of which were on display aplenty.
For stage 12, Team Dimension Data – who are registered in South Africa – celebrated Mandela Day with orange handlebar tape, bidons, KMC chains and special Giro Aether helmets to commemorate the occasion.
Click through the gallery above for a close look at some of the new tech on display at the 2019 Tour de France.