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Giro d'Italia tech roundup: highlights from the final week of racing

Egan Bernal's pink Pinarello
Egan Bernal's pink Pinarello (Image credit: Eurosport / GCN)

After three weeks of hectic racing in a lap of Italy, the racing has finally drawn to a close, and unless you've been busy trying to bleed your rim brakes for the past three weeks, you'll have probably seen that Egan Bernal was crowned the winner of the 104th Giro d'Italia on Sunday.

And as the pink confetti settles in the wake of the first grand tour of 2021, we're taking a look back at the tech highlights from the final few days of racing. 

We've got Bernal taking his colour-matching game to the next level, a strange case of Nizzolo hiding his shoes despite them being sponsor correct, and we've even got what we believe to be a frowned-upon sponsor-swap-out from Team Bike-Exchange.

Also, while we already spotted what we assume to be a new Factor time trial bike, we've dug out a few extra images to compare old vs new.

Let's dive in first, with Simon Yates' new wheels. 

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Simon Yates' bike has new wheels

Simon Yates' bike is shod with some new, unbranded wheels (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Simon Yates' bike has new wheels

Subtle differences tell us they aren't new Shimano wheels, and suggest they are in fact new wheels from Vision (Image credit: Getty Images)

Simon Yates' Bike-Exchange team are one of many Shimano-sponsored teams in the WorldTour running the Japanese brand's Dura-Ace wheels for most race days. 

However, for the final few days of this year's Giro, the Briton's late GC charge was performed on an all-new blacked-out wheelset, free of any logos or branding. 

Our first thoughts turned to the logo-free prototype Shimano wheels that Sunweb and Groupama-FDJ were running at last year's Tour de France. However, these are tubeless/clincher in operation, and the carbon layup looks slightly different. 

As it happens, Team Bike-Exchange are sponsored by two different wheel sponsors. Shimano cover the road stages, and Vision are contracted to supply time trial wheels.

After a bit of digging, we believe these to be new tubeless wheels from Vision. So while they're technically not sponsor-incorrect, we don't expect Shimano are too happy about the team bending the terms of engagement. 

Hidden prototype shoes?

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Giacomo Nizzolo Gaerne overshoes

Nizzolo is wearing Gaerne overshoes that hide the Gaerne shoes beneath (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Giacomo Nizzolo Gaerne overshoes

Aside from being a prototype beneath, we can't see why Gaerne would ask the Italian to wear them (Image credit: Getty Images)

Giacomo Nizzolo made headlines at the start of the Giro for his custom-designed Ekoi helmet, painted with a mock COVID-19 travel document on the front, declaring his permission to travel to "win stages". 

However, at the other end of the Italian sprinter is something slightly more perplexing, his overshoes. 

Throughout the three-week race, the Italian has been wearing Gaerne-branded overshoes designed to look like he's wearing Gaerne shoes. This isn't uncommon for Gaerne-sponsored athletes and it's a tactic that the brand has employed at least as far back as the 2019 Tour de France, when Tim Wellens preferred Specialized S-Works 7s (Image 12). 

But what's strangest about this is that Nizzolo is actually using the Gaerne overshoes to hide shoes that are also from Gaerne. 

Our main theory to this is that the shoes underneath are a prototype pair of Gaerne shoes that the brand doesn't want to break cover just yet. We've reached out to the team for an explanation, but we're yet to get a response, so for now we're guessing. 

Pink Pinarello

Egan Bernal's pink Pinarello

Sadly, the pink Pinarello served only as an unused backup for the Giro winner (Image credit: Eurosport / GCN)

There was another new Pinarello spotted on the final stage of the Giro. Not the Dogma F14 we spotted earlier in the week, but a Bolide time trial bike fit for a Giro d'Italia winner. 

It also seems Pinarello has a surplus of metallic paint in stock, as the new Bolide is given a similarly metallic finish to both of Ganna's recent custom bikes, but of course, in dashing pink...ish. 

However, curiously, the Colombian chose not to use it. Instead, it simply paraded around the 30km course atop the roof of Bernal's team car as a backup bike - not a bad bike to have as a backup. 

More pink, more Bernal

Egan Bernal sporting pink oakley kato glasses

With their highly transparent lenses, the pink Oakley Kato sunglasses were reserved for the rainier days (Image credit: Getty Images)

In our rest day tech gallery from earlier in the race, we accused Egan Bernal's custom pink colour-matching of not being quite up to the level of his teammate Ganna. 

We have no proof, but we like to think he was reading, because in the weeks since, the Colombian has upped his game significantly. 

Not only was he given that pink(ish) Pinarello Bolide, he was also seen sporting this matchy-matchy pair of Oakley Kato sunglasses.

Unfortunately, they're not available to buy. Sad faces all around.

Ganna's hub end caps

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Aerocoach hub end caps

AeroCoach's original fairing-design hub end caps (Image credit: Aerocoach)
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Aerocoach UCI hub end caps

The new hub end caps are round, and UCI legal (Image credit: Aerocoach)

Time to put your nerd specs on, folks, because we're about to take a look at the hub end caps used by Filippo Ganna during the stage 21 time trial.

On stage 1, Ganna was using the AeroCoach Aeox Titan wheels, which come with hub end caps designed in a fairing shape for extra aerodynamic performance. However as the race progressed, the UCI did what the UCI does, and went to work implementing legislation that banned this design.

As reported by our friends over at CyclingTips, AeroCoach was forced to release a UCI-legal version of the hub end caps, which Ganna went on to use on stage 21. 

He still won, so we suppose that's Ganna 1:0 UCI.

New Factor TT bike: Old v New

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New factor TT bike comparison

A side-on shot of the new Factor TT bike ridden at the Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Getty Images)
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New factor TT bike comparison

For comparions, here's the Factor TT bike (Image credit: Getty Images)
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New factor TT bike comparison

The seat stays are slightly deeper in profile, but the junction remains largely unchanged (Image credit: Getty Images)
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New factor TT bike comparison

Here's the older bike's seat stays for comparison (Image credit: Getty Images)
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New factor TT bike comparison

The fork looks to be slightly deeper, and with a slightly shallower angle (Image credit: Getty Images)
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New factor TT bike comparison

The older bike's fork legs look a little shallower (Image credit: Getty Images)
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New factor TT bike comparison

The seat stays drop vertically into the dropouts on the new bike (Image credit: Getty Images)
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New factor TT bike comparison

Whereas the older bike's seat stays join the chain stays in more of a point (Image credit: Getty Images)
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New factor TT bike comparison

The head tube is given a much more sculpted design (Image credit: Getty Images)
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New factor TT bike comparison

While the older bike's head tube is smoother (Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the major tech stories coming out of stage 21 was the blacked out bikes ridden by some of the Israel Start-Up Nation riders.

The team is sponsored by Factor bikes, and we've heard rumours of a new bike coming for a while, so we can only assume that the bike will be the British brand's new Slick.

The differences between old and new are subtle, including a redesigned head tube area, adjusted rear seat stays and what looks to be a slightly more relaxed fork angle.

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Josh Croxton

Josh has been with us as Senior Tech Writer since the summer of 2019 and throughout that time he's covered everything from buyer's guides and deals to the latest tech news and reviews. On the bike, Josh has been riding and racing for over 15 years. He started out racing cross country in his teens back when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s, racing at a local and national level for Team Tor 2000. He's always keen to get his hands on the newest tech, and while he enjoys a good long road race, he's much more at home in a local criterium.