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Pro bike: Rory Sutherland's Team Boardman Bikes AiR 9.8

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UnitedHealthcare rider Rory Sutherland is using Boardman Bikes' AiR 9.8 aero road bike this year.

UnitedHealthcare rider Rory Sutherland is using Boardman Bikes' AiR 9.8 aero road bike this year. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) is using Ritchey's latest semi-anatomic WCS Curve alloy handlebar.

Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) is using Ritchey's latest semi-anatomic WCS Curve alloy handlebar. (Image credit: James Huang)
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In contrast to many pro bikes we see in Europe, Rory Sutherland's (UnitedHealthcare) Boardman AiR 9.8 has a rather generous stack of spacers beneath the stem.

In contrast to many pro bikes we see in Europe, Rory Sutherland's (UnitedHealthcare) Boardman AiR 9.8 has a rather generous stack of spacers beneath the stem. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Standard consumer-spec SRAM Red DoubleTap levers are fitted to Ritchey alloy bars.

Standard consumer-spec SRAM Red DoubleTap levers are fitted to Ritchey alloy bars. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) has finished within the top ten at Tour of California in the past but he's gunning for more this time around.

Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) has finished within the top ten at Tour of California in the past but he's gunning for more this time around. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The SRAM Red rear derailleur is paired to SRAM's trick PowerDome OG-1090 cassette.

The SRAM Red rear derailleur is paired to SRAM's trick PowerDome OG-1090 cassette. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Boardman also uses flat inner surfaces for the seat and chain stays, saying they yield smoother airflow than curved ones especially when deeper-section wheels are used.

Boardman also uses flat inner surfaces for the seat and chain stays, saying they yield smoother airflow than curved ones especially when deeper-section wheels are used. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Chris King's latest road-specific R45 hubs have much less seal and ratchet drag than the company's standard hubs.

Chris King's latest road-specific R45 hubs have much less seal and ratchet drag than the company's standard hubs. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The internally routed cables are fed into the tapered head tube.

The internally routed cables are fed into the tapered head tube. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) has his saddle slammed way back on the aero carbon seatpost on his Boardman Bikes AiR 9.8.

Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) has his saddle slammed way back on the aero carbon seatpost on his Boardman Bikes AiR 9.8. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The extreme rearward position requires a bit of file work on the alloy top clamp.

The extreme rearward position requires a bit of file work on the alloy top clamp. (Image credit: James Huang)
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UnitedHealthcare is among the few top professional teams using clincher tires.

UnitedHealthcare is among the few top professional teams using clincher tires. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Stage 1 of this year's Tour of California should have traversed the California-Nevada border three times but a spring storm unfortunately kept riders off their bikes completely.

Stage 1 of this year's Tour of California should have traversed the California-Nevada border three times but a spring storm unfortunately kept riders off their bikes completely. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Chris King provides front and rear hubs for the UnitedHealthcare team - and there's little missing them on account of their bright color.

Chris King provides front and rear hubs for the UnitedHealthcare team - and there's little missing them on account of their bright color. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The painted inner surfaces on the fork highlights their flat shape, which Boardman Bikes says yields smoother airflow, especially when using deep-section wheels.

The painted inner surfaces on the fork highlights their flat shape, which Boardman Bikes says yields smoother airflow, especially when using deep-section wheels. (Image credit: James Huang)
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SRAM even provides the team with bar tape. Reflective bits on the bar end caps add a bit of nighttime security, too.

SRAM even provides the team with bar tape. Reflective bits on the bar end caps add a bit of nighttime security, too. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Boardman's AiR 9.8 uses a BB30-compatible shell so UnitedHealthcare team mechanics use Wheels Manufacturing's Delrin adapter to work with the SRAM S975 cranks.

Boardman's AiR 9.8 uses a BB30-compatible shell so UnitedHealthcare team mechanics use Wheels Manufacturing's Delrin adapter to work with the SRAM S975 cranks. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Some electrical tape helps secure the SRM sensor.

Some electrical tape helps secure the SRM sensor. (Image credit: James Huang)
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SwissStop Yellow King carbon-specific pads are installed in the SRAM Red brake calipers.

SwissStop Yellow King carbon-specific pads are installed in the SRAM Red brake calipers. (Image credit: James Huang)
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AceCo provides the UnitedHealthcare team with custom etched K-Edge chain watchers.

AceCo provides the UnitedHealthcare team with custom etched K-Edge chain watchers. (Image credit: James Huang)
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SRAM's extra-stiff 'SPR' outer chainrings are less aggressively machined as compared to consumer versions.

SRAM's extra-stiff 'SPR' outer chainrings are less aggressively machined as compared to consumer versions. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Like many pros, Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) uses an all-alloy cockpit.

Like many pros, Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) uses an all-alloy cockpit. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) both races and trains with his SRAM S975 SRM power meter.

Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) both races and trains with his SRAM S975 SRM power meter. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Boardman Bikes uses aero profiles for the down tube, seat tube, and seatpost on its latest AiR 9.8 frame.

Boardman Bikes uses aero profiles for the down tube, seat tube, and seatpost on its latest AiR 9.8 frame. (Image credit: James Huang)
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UnitedHealthcare doesn't actually have a sponsor for skewers and while these chromed steel ones aren't exactly fancy, they're much more secure than many high-zoot lightweights.

UnitedHealthcare doesn't actually have a sponsor for skewers and while these chromed steel ones aren't exactly fancy, they're much more secure than many high-zoot lightweights. (Image credit: James Huang)
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A team-option steel cage on the SRAM Red front derailleur yields sharper shifts than the lighter but more flexible titanium one.

A team-option steel cage on the SRAM Red front derailleur yields sharper shifts than the lighter but more flexible titanium one. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Enve Composites provides carbon rims for the UnitedHealthcare team.

Enve Composites provides carbon rims for the UnitedHealthcare team. (Image credit: James Huang)

The UCI's 6.8kg minimum weight has had a number of ancillary consequences on pro riders' machines aside from its original intentions. First, we saw the proliferation of power meters both for training and while racing, and then rim sections have gotten progressively deeper as riders looked to more useful places to add some extra mass.

Now that their eyes have been awakened to the benefits of aerodynamics, though - and as weights of other components continue to fall - aerodynamic road frames have steadily gained in popularity with UnitedHealthcare and star rider Rory Sutherland being among the latest to hop on the bandwagon.

Sutherland is on Boardman Bikes' latest AiR 9.8 chassis, whose shape was supposedly adapted from the company's flagship time trial rig. Aerodynamic tube profiles are used for the down tube, seat tube, and seatpost, and deep sections are also used for the fork blades and seat stays. Boardman uses particularly flat surfaces on the insides of the fork blades and stays, though, with the claim that that yields smoother airflow when the wheels are factored in - and especially when deep-section rims are used.

Speaking of wheels, UnitedHealthcare is somewhat unique in that the team uses fully hand-built rolling stock instead of factory pre-builds - and they're also primarily on vulcanized Maxxis clinchers, not tubulars. Enve Composites provides carbon rims of various depths, new lower-drag (and quieter-running) R45 hubs come from Chris King, and they're all laced together with Sapim's increasingly popular CX-Ray bladed spokes.

Chris King's latest road-specific R45 hubs have much less seal and ratchet drag than the company's standard hubs. Photo: James Huang

SRAM supplies the bulk of the running gear, including a complete Red group plus the company's S975 SRM power meter. Ritchey fills in most of the rest with its alloy WCS forged stem, semi-ergo WCS Curve alloy bar, and WCS saddle (pushed way back on the rails). Remaining tidbits include Gore Ride-On cables and housing, an AceCo K-Edge chain watcher, SwissStop brake pads, Speedplay Zero Stainless pedals, Arundel Dave-O carbon cages, and a Garmin Edge 500 computer.

While the UCI minimum weight rule may have inspired the pro peloton's move towards power meters and aerodynamic technology, it's worth noting that Sutherland's bike isn't actually right on the cusp of that limit, though. Actual weight as pictured is 7.56kg (16.67lb) - though any bit of extra mass certainly didn't seem to hold Sutherland back much during his impressive ascent of Sierra Road at the end of Stage 4.

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar.

Complete bike specifications:

Frame: Boardman Bikes AiR 9.8, size XL
Fork: Boardman Bikes AiR Ultralight UD
Headset: Ritchey WCS Carbon Press Fit tapered, 1 1/8-to-1 1/2in
Stem: Ritchey WCS 4-Axis, 13cm x -6°
Handlebars: Ritchey WCS Curve, 44cm (c-c)
Tape/grips: SRAM
Front brake: SRAM Red w/ SwissStop Yellow King pads
Rear brake: SRAM Red w/ SwissStop Yellow King pads
Brake levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap
Front derailleur: SRAM Red w/ steel cage
Rear derailleur: SRAM Red
Shift levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap
Cassette: SRAM OG-1090, 11-26T
Chain: SRAM PC-1091
Crankset: SRAM S975 SRM, 175mm, 53/39T
Bottom bracket: SRAM Red BB30 w/ Wheels Manufacturing adapters
Pedals: Speedplay Zero Stainless
Rims: Enve Composites 45 Clincher
Front hub: Chris King R45, 20h
Rear hub: Chris King R45, 24h
Spokes: Sapim CX-Ray w/ alloy nipples
Front tire: Maxxis Cormet, 700x23c
Rear tire: Maxxis Cormet, 700x23c
Saddle: Ritchey WCS
Seat post: cboardman Carbon AiR
Bottle cages: Arundel Dave-O (2)
Computer: Garmin Edge 500
Other accessories: AceCo K-Edge chain watcher, Gore Ride-On derailleur cables and housing

Critical measurements:

Rider's height: 1.88m (6' 2")
Rider's weight: 76.7kg (169lb)
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 803mm
Saddle setback: 100mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 565mm
Seat tube length, c-c: 510mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 620mm
Saddle-to-bar drop (vertical): 93mm
Head tube length: 175mm
Top tube length: 585mm (horizontal)
Total bicycle weight: 7.56kg (16.67lb)