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Tour de France tech: Custom aero bottles for Rabobank

By:
James Huang
Published:
July 07, 2011, 3:07 BST,
Updated:
July 07, 2011, 4:08 BST
Race:
Tour de France
Giant ran into some issues with the UCI prior to last year's Tour de France but now that things have stabilized, Rabobank can instead concentrate on the business of going fast.

Giant ran into some issues with the UCI prior to last year's Tour de France but now that things have stabilized, Rabobank can instead concentrate on the business of going fast.

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Rabobank previews custom TT bottles at Stage 2

Rabobank riders didn't need to worry about hydration during the short team time trial but the penultimate stage's individual effort will be a slightly different story. Instead of standard frame mounted bottles, though, Rabobank will have fluids mounted right up front on the aerobars.

Rabobank's latest Giant Trinity Advanced SL cockpits have a short aluminum bridge spanning the armrest mounts. Rivnuts mounted here will eventually provide anchor points for custom carbon fiber cages and slimline bottles pointed straight into the wind. The bottles themselves will present minimal additional frontal area as they're smaller than normal to fit in between armrests but more importantly, their placement will allow the riders to maintain their tuck even when grabbing a drink.

According to Giant team liaison Andy Wollny, riders will simply have to slide one arm slightly rearward, pop the bottle out and bring it up to their mouth, then snap it back in place. Wollny says he worked with his long-time custom fabricator in Taiwan for the design and drawing to delivery took a scant four weeks – just a blink of an eye when you consider the time delay of molded parts like this.

Rabobank's custom time trial bottles and cages are designed so that the rider doesn't have to break his tuck to take a drink

Rabobank's custom time trial bottles and cages are designed so that the rider doesn't have to break his tuck to take a drink

Selle Italia expands Monolink and Friction Free range, gains new manufacturing partners

Astana captain Alexandre Vinokourov's Specialized Project Black S-Works McLaren previewed the expansion of the Selle Italia Friction Free Monolink saddle range, which up until now has included just two modified SLR models and Selle Italia's own carbon fiber seatpost. Though the unusually narrow nose's notably free-pedaling feel has been intriguing (and it might even offer some slight power gains), the exorbitant cost for the post-and-saddle combination has been highly prohibitive.

In a logical move, Selle Italia's newest Monolink saddle is a modified version of its iconic Flite with the same slimmed-down nose dimensions and highly adjustable carbon fiber central rail as the current SLR models. Vinokourov's particular perch is finished in Astana team colors with his trademark 'The Thing' graphics, however, and his carbon fiber seatpost is a new K-Force model from FSA. No pricing has been announced from FSA but as long as it's cheaper than the US$319.99 Selle Italia model, it's a step in the right direction.

We expect FSA to offer an even less expensive SL-K model, too, and a recent visit to Selle Italia's Asolo, Italy headquarters revealed that Ritchey and Kalloy have signed on as well. Ultimately, Selle Italia says we can expect to see a relatively low-cost Monolink Friction combination that will cost less than US$200.

FSA have licensed Selle Italia's Monolink seatpost design, meaning there'll be more options for consumers next season

FSA have licensed Selle Italia's Monolink seatpost design, meaning there'll be more options for consumers next season

Specialized taps its own employees for more McLaren development bikes

Specialized has a bit of a supply and demand problem at this year's Tour de France. It sponsors three teams with bikes, each of those teams has nine riders, and yet the company has only provided two of the new Project Black S-Works McLaren development bikes per squad for testing and feedback purposes. That may suffice in normal everyday situations and lesser races but this is the Tour de France, and anything less than the best simply won't cut it.

Conveniently for HTC-Highroad, Specialized road R&D head Chris D'Aluisio was on site during the first few days of the race and had his personal test rig with him. Sadly for D'Aluisio, though, that also meant that he had to turn it over to the team – meaning no more bike rides during the rest of his stay in France.

According to Specialized PR man Nic Sims, all of the teams will continue to get more development bikes as they become available – as soon as within the next few days.

Two of these people are happy. One isn't. Sorry, Chris D'Aluisio – there are only so many of these Specialized McLaren test bikes to go around and those HTC-Highroad guys need them more than you do right now

Two of these people are happy. One isn't. Sorry, Chris D'Aluisio – there are only so many of these Specialized McLaren test bikes to go around and those HTC-Highroad guys need them more than you do right now

Specialized is mum on technical changes on the McLaren development bikes relative to the standard Tarmac SL4, though, but based on the experience with the Venge collaboration, it's safe to assume that the 'Project Black' bikes are a touch lighter and a bit stiffer, too – two qualities pro teams can never have in excess.

Unlike the pro-spec development bikes, D'Aluisio's frame is equipped with standard internal cable routing instead of the team-only Di2-only setups. Someone we get the feeling that the mechanics probably won't have much of a problem getting around that little hiccup, though.

One rider who notably isn't on one of the new machines is last year's Tour de France winner, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard), who is still using his elaborately custom painted S-Works Tarmac SL3 bikes from last year. According to Sims, Contador simply hasn't had enough testing time on the updated version to race on it for such an important event so he stuck with what he knew.

The custom painted Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 of Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) is easy to pick out against those of his teammates

The custom painted Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 of Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) is easy to pick out against those of his teammates

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

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Tour de France