For Chris Froome, 2021 brings a welcome fresh start and an opportunity to put the difficulties and setbacks of the last two years behind him. Like many, 2020 is probably a year that Froome will likely choose to forget.
With a disrupted race calendar and a difficult recovery from a career-threatening crash at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné, he was unable to display the performance that we have seen in previous years from the four-time Tour de France winner.
Last summer it was announced that Froome would be leaving Ineos Grenadiers, the team that he had ridden with for the last 11 years and repeatedly achieved some of the highest accolades in cycling. The 35-year-old signed a long-term contract with Israel Start-Up Nation and is set to lead the team's 2021 Tour de France campaign and, if successful, collect his fifth yellow jersey.
A new chapter with a new team also means a new bike. Froome has raced on Pinarello bikes for the last 11 years of his career in which he has achieved seven Grand Tour victories. For the next two years, he will be riding Factor Bikes who signed a three-year contract with Israel Start-Up Nation in 2020.
Factor Bikes, an English brand based in Norfolk, will supply the team with four bikes: The OSTRO VAM, O2 VAM Disc, the ONE Disc aero bike and the SLiCK Disc for Time Trials.
Froome will be riding Factor's new OSTRO VAM frame in a size 56cm. This is one of many do-it-all lightweight yet aero road bikes, designed to rule across all race scenarios. Notably, the frame features NACA tube shapes and dropped stays amongst other design features for better efficiency through the air.
Factor tube optimisation has meant that the OSTRO is claimed to almost match the ONE frameset in aerodynamics. This hasn't come at a weight penalty with the frame weighing in at a claimed 780g for a size 54cm and is able to be built to match the UCI weight limit. With the Black Inc 30 wheelset, Froome's bike weighed just under 7kg, the switch to the deeper 60mm wheelset will have added a little extra weight although it's likely there have been some further adjustments to bring the bike closer to the UCI weight limit.
For Froome, the biggest change on his new bike is the move to disc brakes as Factor doesn't offer this bike with any rim brake frame options. He has already expressed his concerns surrounding road disc brake technology although he should be in good hands with Shimano Dura-Ace levers and callipers set up with SwissStop pads and rotors.
Along with a new bike comes new components and kit sponsors as well. The team bikes will run Factor’s in-house brand, Black Inc, who will supply wheels, seatposts, bars and stems. The drivetrain is Shimano’s current 11sp Dura-Ace Di2 groupset with 4iiii providing power metrics which Froome will be familiar with, however, efficiency has been boosted with CeramicSpeed bearings and an OSPW (Over-Sized Pulley Wheel). The rest of the kit comes from Selle Italia Saddles and Maxxis tyres, of which Froome will be using Maxxis' ICA exclusive Yalla Academy tyre with HYPR-S compound and a 170tpi casing. The wheel and tyres available will give Froome the option to run tubeless however it's not confirmed what set up he will choose to race on.
Froome made his Israel Start-Up Nation debut aboard his new bike at the UAE Tour and, despite still working towards reaching peak racing condition, was feeling positive about his performance. Froome's next test will be the Volta a Catalunya, which gets underway on March 22.
- Frameset: Factor OSTRO VAM
- Front brake: Shimano Dura-Ace with Swissstop brake pads
- Rear brake: Shimano Dura-Ace with Swissstop brake pads
- Rotors: SwissStop Catalyst
- Brake/shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace with CeramicSpeed OSPW
- Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace 11-30
- Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace with 4iiii power meter Size:175
- Bottom bracket: Ceramic Speed
- Wheelset: Black Inc. 60 tubeless
- Tyres: Maxxis Yalla Academy 25mm
- Handlebars: Black Inc Integrated Bar/stem, 38cm
- Handlebar tape: Black Inc
- Stem: Black Inc Integrated Bar/stem, 130mm
- Computer mount: Black Inc/Hammerhead
- Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace PD-R9100
- Saddle: Selle Italia Novus Boost Evo
- Seat post: Factor (OSTRO)
- Bottle cages: Elite Superleggero 2.0
- Computer: Hammerhead Karoo 2
- Seat height (from bottom bracket at centre): 79.4cm
- Bike weight: TBC
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Graham has been part of the Cyclingnews team since January 2020. He has mountain biking at his core and can mostly be found bikepacking around Scotland or exploring the steep trails around the Tweed Valley. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has gained a reputation for riding fixed gear bikes both too far and often in inappropriate places.
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