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

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Sprinter Mark Renshaw (Blanco) is using Giant's brand new Propel Advanced SL aero road bike for this year's Tour Down Under.

Sprinter Mark Renshaw (Blanco) is using Giant's brand new Propel Advanced SL aero road bike for this year's Tour Down Under. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Mark Renshaw's (Blanco) new Giant Propel Advanced SL aero road bike is nowhere near the UCI minimum weight limit at 7.59kg (16.73lb, without SRM computer). However, the data generated by his SRM power meter is still far more valuable than shaving a few grams.

Mark Renshaw's (Blanco) new Giant Propel Advanced SL aero road bike is nowhere near the UCI minimum weight limit at 7.59kg (16.73lb, without SRM computer). However, the data generated by his SRM power meter is still far more valuable than shaving a few grams. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Shimano-sponsored teams at the Tour Down Under are still using the previous-generation Dura-Ace Di2 7970 group.

Shimano-sponsored teams at the Tour Down Under are still using the previous-generation Dura-Ace Di2 7970 group. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A custom stainless steel number plate holder is attached to the seatmast head on Mark Renshaw's (Blanco) new Giant Propel Advanced SL.

A custom stainless steel number plate holder is attached to the seatmast head on Mark Renshaw's (Blanco) new Giant Propel Advanced SL. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Pro riders - Blanco sprinter Mark Renshaw included - are quickly switching to wider tubular tires such as the 25mm Vittoria prototypes shown here. Wider rims mean there's little aerodynamic disadvantage with the move plus the riders get improved ride quality and cornering traction.

Pro riders - Blanco sprinter Mark Renshaw included - are quickly switching to wider tubular tires such as the 25mm Vittoria prototypes shown here. Wider rims mean there's little aerodynamic disadvantage with the move plus the riders get improved ride quality and cornering traction. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Giant's RideSense wireless ANT+ speed sensor is attached to the non-driveside chain stay. The timing chip is located just behind it.

Giant's RideSense wireless ANT+ speed sensor is attached to the non-driveside chain stay. The timing chip is located just behind it. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The down tube on Mark Renshaw's (Blanco) new Giant Propel Advanced SL is specifically shaped to work with a round water bottle. The second bottle is intentionally mounted very low on the seat tube in an effort to 'hide' it behind the other one.

The down tube on Mark Renshaw's (Blanco) new Giant Propel Advanced SL is specifically shaped to work with a round water bottle. The second bottle is intentionally mounted very low on the seat tube in an effort to 'hide' it behind the other one. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Huge tube sections around the 86mm-wide bottom bracket lend very good drivetrain rigidity.

Huge tube sections around the 86mm-wide bottom bracket lend very good drivetrain rigidity. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tire clearance is very tight behind the seat tube with 25mm-wide tubulars fitted.

Tire clearance is very tight behind the seat tube with 25mm-wide tubulars fitted. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Blanco's custom team-only aluminum brakes certainly aren't as sleek looking as the standard carbon composites units used on production bikes - and are certainly heavier - but they seem to work much better.

Blanco's custom team-only aluminum brakes certainly aren't as sleek looking as the standard carbon composites units used on production bikes - and are certainly heavier - but they seem to work much better. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Dual cable noodle positions on Blanco's custom machined aluminum linear-pull brakes easily accommodate wide or narrow-profile rims with almost no additional adjustments required.

Dual cable noodle positions on Blanco's custom machined aluminum linear-pull brakes easily accommodate wide or narrow-profile rims with almost no additional adjustments required. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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While everyone seems to be jumping on the truncated airfoil bandwagon for their latest aero road bikes, Giant uses a more traditional shape for Mark Renshaw's (Blanco) new Propel Advanced SL.

While everyone seems to be jumping on the truncated airfoil bandwagon for their latest aero road bikes, Giant uses a more traditional shape for Mark Renshaw's (Blanco) new Propel Advanced SL. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Deep drop, traditional-bend PRO Vibe 7s aluminum bars (with no sprint shift buttons) for Mark Renshaw (Blanco).

Deep drop, traditional-bend PRO Vibe 7s aluminum bars (with no sprint shift buttons) for Mark Renshaw (Blanco). (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Shimano has already introduced its new Dura-Ace Di2 9070 group but teams here at the Tour Down Under are still using the older 7970 version for now.

Shimano has already introduced its new Dura-Ace Di2 9070 group but teams here at the Tour Down Under are still using the older 7970 version for now. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Mark Renshaw's PRO Vibe 7s aluminum handlebar is nothing new but the matching stem is with its carbon wrapped extension, four-bolt faceplate, and 1 1/4" steerer clamp for use with Giant's OverDrive 2 fork.

Mark Renshaw's PRO Vibe 7s aluminum handlebar is nothing new but the matching stem is with its carbon wrapped extension, four-bolt faceplate, and 1 1/4" steerer clamp for use with Giant's OverDrive 2 fork. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Blanco team mechanics route the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wire along the bottom of the stem instead of the brake housing as usual. A small clamp is affixed to the lower steerer clamp for strain relief.

Blanco team mechanics route the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wire along the bottom of the stem instead of the brake housing as usual. A small clamp is affixed to the lower steerer clamp for strain relief. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Giant uses its usual massive oversized OverDrive 2 1 1/4-to-1 1/2" steerer for the new Propel Advanced SL but the hourglass-profile head tube and trim headset bearing cartridges still yield a surprisingly slim exterior shape.

Giant uses its usual massive oversized OverDrive 2 1 1/4-to-1 1/2" steerer for the new Propel Advanced SL but the hourglass-profile head tube and trim headset bearing cartridges still yield a surprisingly slim exterior shape. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Giant specs custom TRP carbon composite linear-pull brakes on production Propel Advanced SL bikes but the team gets custom units made of machined aluminum that more readily accommodate wide-profile rims and feature a more cable-friendly clamp. The fully enclosed stainless steel noodle - not to mention the tighter connection to the arm - yields a much better lever feel, too.

Giant specs custom TRP carbon composite linear-pull brakes on production Propel Advanced SL bikes but the team gets custom units made of machined aluminum that more readily accommodate wide-profile rims and feature a more cable-friendly clamp. The fully enclosed stainless steel noodle - not to mention the tighter connection to the arm - yields a much better lever feel, too. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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(Image credit: Jonny Irick)

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: