Pro bike: Mark Renshaw's Blanco Giant Propel Advanced SL

Top riders have gathered here in Adelaide, Australia for the 2013 Tour Down Under to test their early season fitness. Blanco team sprinter – and Aussie local – Mark Renshaw is testing Giant's new Propel Advanced SL aero road bike, too, and hopes its new low-drag shape will carry him to success at the finish line.

Giant launched its new bike just days prior to the start of the race so it's no surprise that Renshaw is using it here. According to Giant, the new bike is substantially speedier aerodynamically than the team's TCR Advanced SL – a second per kilometer, to be exact – while still only weighing 950g for a Renshaw's medium frame and coming close in terms of rigidity, too.

We suspect Renshaw's particular bike closes that gap substantially, though, and perhaps even surpasses a stock TCR Advanced SL in that respect based on the 7.59kg (16.73lb, without SRM computer) actual weight. For reference, a comparable Propel Advanced SL 0 would weigh about 7.25kg with Shimano's admittedly lighter Dura-Ace Di2 9070 group and identical pedals but heavier aero clincher wheels, too.

Given that Giant has built specially reinforced bikes before for powerful riders like Mark Cavendish before, we're guessing some of the extra mass in Renshaw's bike comes courtesy of a few extra carbon plies.

Blanco team bikes also sub in team-only machined aluminum linear-pull brakes instead of the molded carbon composite arms used on production Giant Propel Advanced SL. The material change and chunkier shape certainly add weight – and look to possibly impact the aerodynamic performance, too, at least on paper – a quick pull of the lever reveals that they work quite a bit better, too.

Lever feel is firmer and more positive than on production bikes we've ridden, the cable anchor uses a bigger and more cable-friendly clamp design, and the fully enclosed stainless steel noodle locks into a more secure socket. Team brakes sport a dual-position noodle anchor, too, to more easily accommodate narrow and wide-profile rims without requiring additional adjustment.

Finally, we spotted what looks to be a new PRO stem on Renshaw's bike, slammed down with a particularly low-profile FSA upper headset cone. Key features include a Giant OverDrive 2-friendly 1 1/4" steerer clamp, a carbon-wrapped body, and four-bolt handlebar clamp.

Otherwise, Renshaw's bike comprises mostly off-the-shelf gear.

Though Shimano has already introduced its new Dura-Ace Di2 9070 group, Renshaw – and other Shimano-sponsored riders here at TDU – is still using the previous-generation 7970 edition since supplies are still too limited for teams to make the switch. Renshaw's 50mm Dura-Ace carbon tubular wheels are standard issue, too, although they're wrapped in prototype 25mm-wide Vittoria tires.

Somewhat surprisingly for a sprinter, Renshaw isn't using Shimano's optional sprint shifters on the drops, either, instead relying on the standard buttons to get the job done.

Capping things off are a fi'zi:k Aliante k:ium saddle, Tacx Uma carbon fiber bottle cages, and an SRM PowerControl 7 computer head.

Complete bike specifications:

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