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Giro d'Italia race tech: It's all in the details

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Hats off to Northern Ireland for putting on a great show

Hats off to Northern Ireland for putting on a great show
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Colour-matched saddles lend a very cohesive look to team bikes

Colour-matched saddles lend a very cohesive look to team bikes
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Garmin-Sharp team mechanics have set up Ryder Hesjedal's bike with crossover cable routing

Garmin-Sharp team mechanics have set up Ryder Hesjedal's bike with crossover cable routing
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Garmin-Sharp rider Nathan Haas warms up with his back to the crowd to give himself at least some semblance of privacy

Garmin-Sharp rider Nathan Haas warms up with his back to the crowd to give himself at least some semblance of privacy
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Shiny!

Shiny!
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) started stage 3 on a Cervélo S3 equipped with mechanical Shimano Dura-Ace shifting, Nokon segmented aluminium housing, and 3T's new Aeronova road bar. A -17-degree stem and omitting the headset cover allows for as low a bar position as possible

Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) started stage 3 on a Cervélo S3 equipped with mechanical Shimano Dura-Ace shifting, Nokon segmented aluminium housing, and 3T's new Aeronova road bar. A -17-degree stem and omitting the headset cover allows for as low a bar position as possible
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A rubber cap helps prevent at least some water from running down into BMC's Impec frames. Given the weather teams have experienced at the start of this year's Giro, though, those bikes are going to need a lot more than just that

A rubber cap helps prevent at least some water from running down into BMC's Impec frames. Given the weather teams have experienced at the start of this year's Giro, though, those bikes are going to need a lot more than just that
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The Trek Factory Team uses these neat custom number plate holders that are bonded behind the seat tube

The Trek Factory Team uses these neat custom number plate holders that are bonded behind the seat tube
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Even cable ends are neatly crimped

Even cable ends are neatly crimped
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The Bardiani CSF team uses zipties (and toe straps!) to secure the quick-release bike mounts while traveling on the highway. One quick clip, though, and the setup is pretty much race-ready

The Bardiani CSF team uses zipties (and toe straps!) to secure the quick-release bike mounts while traveling on the highway. One quick clip, though, and the setup is pretty much race-ready
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Bardiani CSF's MCipollini Bond frames feature built-in chain catchers

Bardiani CSF's MCipollini Bond frames feature built-in chain catchers
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Inline adjusters allow this Colombia rider to tweak the front derailleur tune on the fly

Inline adjusters allow this Colombia rider to tweak the front derailleur tune on the fly
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The iBike Newton computer mount on Colombia team bikes can be switched to stem or handlebar use

The iBike Newton computer mount on Colombia team bikes can be switched to stem or handlebar use
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team Colombia's iBike Newton computer mounts are a bit clunky but a solid foundation is a key requirement to getting a reasonably accurate power calculation

Team Colombia's iBike Newton computer mounts are a bit clunky but a solid foundation is a key requirement to getting a reasonably accurate power calculation
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The Colombia team is using iBike's Newton computer, which calculates power output instead of measuring it directly

The Colombia team is using iBike's Newton computer, which calculates power output instead of measuring it directly
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Note how the end of this quick release lever sits inboard of the chain stay

Note how the end of this quick release lever sits inboard of the chain stay
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team mechanics use all sorts of different methods to ensure timing chips don't get separated from their bikes

Team mechanics use all sorts of different methods to ensure timing chips don't get separated from their bikes
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Huge logos on the underside of the down tube can easily be picked out in photos

Huge logos on the underside of the down tube can easily be picked out in photos
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Campagnolo carbon-specific pads are mounted here to a Shimano Dura-Ace calliper

Campagnolo carbon-specific pads are mounted here to a Shimano Dura-Ace calliper
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Ever wonder what a pro rider wants to see on his computer screen? Here's what Lampre-Merida rider Winner Anacona sees. And yes, that's really his name

Ever wonder what a pro rider wants to see on his computer screen? Here's what Lampre-Merida rider Winner Anacona sees. And yes, that's really his name
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Even team vehicles are incredibly clean - every single day

Even team vehicles are incredibly clean - every single day
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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No static electricity shocks on the Astana bus, please!

No static electricity shocks on the Astana bus, please!
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Notes like this make it very clear what needs to be done

Notes like this make it very clear what needs to be done
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Mechanics regularly use a lot of tape to secure housing to the bars

Mechanics regularly use a lot of tape to secure housing to the bars
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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With so many power meter cranks and solid chainring spiders in the peloton, this one almost looks like it's missing something

With so many power meter cranks and solid chainring spiders in the peloton, this one almost looks like it's missing something
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A short section of segmented aluminium housing makes for a smoother path for the rear brake cable

A short section of segmented aluminium housing makes for a smoother path for the rear brake cable
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Cannondale team mechanics not only wrap the edges of Ivan Basso's seatpost clamp with electrical tape but they also completely wrap the saddle rails with it

Cannondale team mechanics not only wrap the edges of Ivan Basso's seatpost clamp with electrical tape but they also completely wrap the saddle rails with it
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Another set of Campagnolo brake pads, this time on a SRAM Red calliper

Another set of Campagnolo brake pads, this time on a SRAM Red calliper
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Whoops! This cable is missing the requisite grub seal to keep water and dirt out of the liner

Whoops! This cable is missing the requisite grub seal to keep water and dirt out of the liner
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Cannondale team mechanics feed a few O-rings onto the rear section of derailleur housing to protect the paint

Cannondale team mechanics feed a few O-rings onto the rear section of derailleur housing to protect the paint
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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It's regular practice for mechanics to leave a little bit of steerer tube sticking up through the stem. This produces the maximum clamp surface area between the stem and steerer tube for the most secure interface possible

It's regular practice for mechanics to leave a little bit of steerer tube sticking up through the stem. This produces the maximum clamp surface area between the stem and steerer tube for the most secure interface possible
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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This cassette and chain aren't new but you'd be hard-pressed to tell judging by the cleanliness

This cassette and chain aren't new but you'd be hard-pressed to tell judging by the cleanliness
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Movistar is quite strict about how the team's bikes must look. Team colours only, all the time

Movistar is quite strict about how the team's bikes must look. Team colours only, all the time
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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There's an impressive amount of fabrication work involved in these custom roof racks

There's an impressive amount of fabrication work involved in these custom roof racks
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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With the advent of electronic shifting and tightly spaced 11-speed cassettes, it's more important than ever that rear derailleur hangers be stiff and stout. The ones used on Canyon's Ultimate CF SLX use a two-piece, sandwich-type layout and a thick profile

With the advent of electronic shifting and tightly spaced 11-speed cassettes, it's more important than ever that rear derailleur hangers be stiff and stout. The ones used on Canyon's Ultimate CF SLX use a two-piece, sandwich-type layout and a thick profile
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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We would love to know how long ago these Christophe toe straps were made

We would love to know how long ago these Christophe toe straps were made
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Stuffing a rain jacket into a cut-up water bottle for a Lampre-Merida rider

Stuffing a rain jacket into a cut-up water bottle for a Lampre-Merida rider
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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We spotted more than a few teams that weren't sponsored by Campagnolo but were using the Italian company's brake pads

We spotted more than a few teams that weren't sponsored by Campagnolo but were using the Italian company's brake pads
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Even Bar Fly has figured out a way to make its computer mounts more visible

Even Bar Fly has figured out a way to make its computer mounts more visible
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela team puts these FSA decals on the front of the bars so they've visible in finish line photos

The Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela team puts these FSA decals on the front of the bars so they've visible in finish line photos
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky team mechanics use short sections of heat shrink tubing to neatly tie the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wire to the rear brake cable housing

Sky team mechanics use short sections of heat shrink tubing to neatly tie the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wire to the rear brake cable housing
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Cable tie ends can be surprisingly vicious so most are cut flush, leaving no sharp edges

Cable tie ends can be surprisingly vicious so most are cut flush, leaving no sharp edges
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Computer heads are necessarily matched to specific riders and teams have different ways of marking them

Computer heads are necessarily matched to specific riders and teams have different ways of marking them
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Not every bike is identified with a tidy name decal. Sometimes just a bit of marker will do

Not every bike is identified with a tidy name decal. Sometimes just a bit of marker will do
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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An additional clamp on the seatpost helps stop it slipping under extreme loads

An additional clamp on the seatpost helps stop it slipping under extreme loads
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Lotto-Belisol went local with its bottom brackets, sourcing them from fellow Belgian outfit C-Bear

Lotto-Belisol went local with its bottom brackets, sourcing them from fellow Belgian outfit C-Bear
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Front quick-release skewers always face rearward, and rear ones always face forward. This protects them from being accidentally opened in a crash

Front quick-release skewers always face rearward, and rear ones always face forward. This protects them from being accidentally opened in a crash
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A serrated brake calliper washer keeps this number plate from rotating on the mount

A serrated brake calliper washer keeps this number plate from rotating on the mount
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team mechanics glue a lot of tubular tyres. Not surprisingly, they've gotten pretty good at it

Team mechanics glue a lot of tubular tyres. Not surprisingly, they've gotten pretty good at it
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A bit of Lizard Skins DSP handlebar tape on this Look KéO Blade pedal presumably helps with the creaking

A bit of Lizard Skins DSP handlebar tape on this Look KéO Blade pedal presumably helps with the creaking
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A small sticker covers up the internal seatpost binder bolt head on Omega Pharma-Quick Step's new Specialized S-Works Tarmac

A small sticker covers up the internal seatpost binder bolt head on Omega Pharma-Quick Step's new Specialized S-Works Tarmac
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Several teams use these little rubber dots to protect the paint from housing rub

Several teams use these little rubber dots to protect the paint from housing rub
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Number plates are trimmed by team mechanics into any variety of shapes

Number plates are trimmed by team mechanics into any variety of shapes
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Wouldn't it be great if you started every ride with a drivetrain this clean? For sure, team bikes get new chains and cassettes very regularly but even parts with significant use on them show up to the line looking like this - every single day

Wouldn't it be great if you started every ride with a drivetrain this clean? For sure, team bikes get new chains and cassettes very regularly but even parts with significant use on them show up to the line looking like this - every single day
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Each rider has multiple bikes available during any given stage and it's important to keep them all straight

Each rider has multiple bikes available during any given stage and it's important to keep them all straight
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A bit of tape helps stop the valve stems rattling inside the rims

A bit of tape helps stop the valve stems rattling inside the rims
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Aero drop bars are slowly making inroads in the peloton

Aero drop bars are slowly making inroads in the peloton
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Seriously, folks, race bikes are always clean, at least at the start of the day

Seriously, folks, race bikes are always clean, at least at the start of the day
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky actually keeps an inventory of all of its Shimano parts. Bits that fail - for any reason - are always sent back to Shimano for evaluation. It's not quite like Shimano simply ships off a giant box of free gear and says, "Here you go"!

Sky actually keeps an inventory of all of its Shimano parts. Bits that fail - for any reason - are always sent back to Shimano for evaluation. It's not quite like Shimano simply ships off a giant box of free gear and says, "Here you go"!
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Luca Paolini's (Katusha) SRM PowerControl 7 is clearly marked with his name. It's critical not to mix up riders' power data

Luca Paolini's (Katusha) SRM PowerControl 7 is clearly marked with his name. It's critical not to mix up riders' power data
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sencillo's saddle-mounted mini-fenders have been pretty popular here in rainy Ireland

Sencillo's saddle-mounted mini-fenders have been pretty popular here in rainy Ireland
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team wheels are often marked to make them easier to retrieve if a rider receives help from neutral support or even another team

Team wheels are often marked to make them easier to retrieve if a rider receives help from neutral support or even another team
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The longer cages on SRAM's WiFli rear derailleurs allow mechanics to install extra-large cassettes for steep mountain stages without having to swap out anything else

The longer cages on SRAM's WiFli rear derailleurs allow mechanics to install extra-large cassettes for steep mountain stages without having to swap out anything else
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Gore's 'grub' seal keeps water and grime out of the full-length cable liner, making for more consistent shift performance over time and fewer cable replacements for the mechanics each day

Gore's 'grub' seal keeps water and grime out of the full-length cable liner, making for more consistent shift performance over time and fewer cable replacements for the mechanics each day
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Keep in mind that neither the cassette or chain shown here are brand new. Really, team mechanics are exceptionally good at cleaning bikes - fast

Keep in mind that neither the cassette or chain shown here are brand new. Really, team mechanics are exceptionally good at cleaning bikes - fast
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Toe straps provide a little peace of mind for the custom quick-release down tube clamps used atop the team cars. These are typically only used for the higher-speed drives to race starts, though, not during the actual race, where speeds are usually significantly slower

Toe straps provide a little peace of mind for the custom quick-release down tube clamps used atop the team cars. These are typically only used for the higher-speed drives to race starts, though, not during the actual race, where speeds are usually significantly slower
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tinkoff-Saxo's seatposts bear the clamp marks from the team's previous Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 frames

Tinkoff-Saxo's seatposts bear the clamp marks from the team's previous Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 frames
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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We're honestly unsure if the Tinkoff-Saxo mechanics apply fresh tape each day or are just really good at cleaning the stuff. If it's the latter, though, we want to know the secrets to keeping matte-finish white handlebar tape looking this good

We're honestly unsure if the Tinkoff-Saxo mechanics apply fresh tape each day or are just really good at cleaning the stuff. If it's the latter, though, we want to know the secrets to keeping matte-finish white handlebar tape looking this good
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Logos aren't always visible from the side so some companies have figured out ways to put them on the front or back

Logos aren't always visible from the side so some companies have figured out ways to put them on the front or back
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Each stage is graphically depicted on the top tube with an artistic rendition of each day's course profile

Each stage is graphically depicted on the top tube with an artistic rendition of each day's course profile
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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SRM gets into the game too, with a pink PowerControl 7 computer head

SRM gets into the game too, with a pink PowerControl 7 computer head
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Orica-GreenEdge's special Giro d'Italia leader's bike is rife with neat detailing

Orica-GreenEdge's special Giro d'Italia leader's bike is rife with neat detailing
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Red, white, green, and pink somehow just seem to look right together

Red, white, green, and pink somehow just seem to look right together
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Svein Tuft handed the pink jersey over to Orica-GreenEdge teammate Michael Matthews after yesterday's stage. Conveniently, though, they're the same height so mechanics were basically able to hand the same bike over, too

Svein Tuft handed the pink jersey over to Orica-GreenEdge teammate Michael Matthews after yesterday's stage. Conveniently, though, they're the same height so mechanics were basically able to hand the same bike over, too
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Sky buys all of its tyres, which leaves it free to use whatever it feels is best for any given occasion. Several other teams also prefer Veloflex Carbon tubulars, although they're often rebadged with other brand names

Sky buys all of its tyres, which leaves it free to use whatever it feels is best for any given occasion. Several other teams also prefer Veloflex Carbon tubulars, although they're often rebadged with other brand names
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Just because there's something that's supposedly lighter/stiffer/faster/better, doesn't mean that every rider wants to use it

Just because there's something that's supposedly lighter/stiffer/faster/better, doesn't mean that every rider wants to use it
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) is yet another rider who has joined the Berner oversized pulley camp. While the frictional advantage over stock pulleys is relatively small, it's still real

Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) is yet another rider who has joined the Berner oversized pulley camp. While the frictional advantage over stock pulleys is relatively small, it's still real
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)

This article appeared originally on BikeRadar.

By and large, just about any bike currently being ridden in this year's Giro d'Italia can be bought by anyone with the financial means to do so. What makes these bikes special, however, is more than the sum of brand names and models. It's that they're built and prepped by some of the best and most seasoned mechanics in the world, and nearly everywhere you look there are small details that set these machines apart.

We've been profiling pro riders' bikes for years, and one trait has repeated itself time and again: these bikes are consistently and predictably perfect in terms of their mechanical and functional setup. Sure, mishaps and errors happen, but with far lower frequency than with typical enthusiast bikes, particularly given the amount of use and hard they're ridden.

Quick-release levers are always in the correct spot, brake pads are aligned exactly as they should be, gears shift with robotic precision (often literally, as is the case these days), and every little bit is finished with the utmost professionalism. Even cable ends are tidily trimmed and neatly crimped, and there's nary a squeak or creak ever to be heard.

Race bikes are about more than just being reliable and safe, though; they also have to be fast. Much of the work is hidden away with higher-performance bearings and lubricants that can't be readily seen. However, one spin of any crank or wheel here will reveal that there's something quite special going on inside. In the most fastidiously prepped rigs, it's a dramatic difference.

Every bike is also highly customised to each and every rider. Fit dimensions are, of course, the most important aspect with every touch point set just so: saddle height, tilt, and setback; bar tilt, bend, and width; hood height and angle. In some case, bars are even taped in a preferred style. Not surprisingly, such customisation is quite time-consuming and can be hard to keep straight, so nearly every team has an expansive spreadsheet that records every key figure.

Finally, as the saying goes, "look good; feel good; do good". These bikes are incredibly, remarkably, almost otherworldly clean each and every time they hit the start line. In many cases, they're also hyper colour coordinated for a final appearance that simply looks fantastic. Mechanics go to quite great lengths to keep them looking this way, too.

Ultimately, the goal is that each rider has to do nothing but pedal, shift, and brake; everything works as it should with no further thought or effort needed. Sadly, a mechanic's most consistent sign that they've done their job properly in this arena is that the bike becomes somewhat of an afterthought. But that doesn't mean the rest of us can't admire their work.