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Race tech: Fresh new gear on display at Tour of Flanders

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Garmin-Cervelo's Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLR wheels included the company's latest Exalith sidewall surface treatment for better braking in wet conditions.

Garmin-Cervelo's Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLR wheels included the company's latest Exalith sidewall surface treatment for better braking in wet conditions. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Omega Pharma-Lotto used a handful of these traditional box-section aluminum tubulars at Ronde van Vlaanderen but we expect to see many more next Sunday.

Omega Pharma-Lotto used a handful of these traditional box-section aluminum tubulars at Ronde van Vlaanderen but we expect to see many more next Sunday. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Leopard Trek used 25mm-wide Schwalbe tubulars for its run at Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Leopard Trek used 25mm-wide Schwalbe tubulars for its run at Ronde van Vlaanderen. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Shiny gold anodized Shimano Yumeya titanium bolts add some visual bling to this Leopard Trek Dura-Ace rear derailleur.

Shiny gold anodized Shimano Yumeya titanium bolts add some visual bling to this Leopard Trek Dura-Ace rear derailleur. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The standard Trek Madone uses this aluminum derailleur hanger that's hardly unusually soft but top-level pros and top-level pro teams are always looking for something extra.

The standard Trek Madone uses this aluminum derailleur hanger that's hardly unusually soft but top-level pros and top-level pro teams are always looking for something extra. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek is experimenting with hardened steel derailleur hangers on team bikes to gain a little extra shifting performance and better durability in crashes.

Trek is experimenting with hardened steel derailleur hangers on team bikes to gain a little extra shifting performance and better durability in crashes. (Image credit: James Huang)
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We've seen Shimano cassettes on SRAM-sponsored bikes before but this SRAM PG-1070 cassette (hidden behind a Shimano lockring) on a Shimano-sponsored bike is an interesting reversal. In all fairness, it was a fluke rather than the norm and perhaps related to the ridiculous number of spares teams had to bring to Ronde van Vlaanderen.

We've seen Shimano cassettes on SRAM-sponsored bikes before but this SRAM PG-1070 cassette (hidden behind a Shimano lockring) on a Shimano-sponsored bike is an interesting reversal. In all fairness, it was a fluke rather than the norm and perhaps related to the ridiculous number of spares teams had to bring to Ronde van Vlaanderen. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Leopard Trek superstar Fabian Cancellara came oh-so-close to earning Trek a major classics victory.

Leopard Trek superstar Fabian Cancellara came oh-so-close to earning Trek a major classics victory. (Image credit: James Huang)
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More titanium bolts from Shimano's Yumeya package are found on Fabian Cancellara's (Leopard Trek) front derailleur.

More titanium bolts from Shimano's Yumeya package are found on Fabian Cancellara's (Leopard Trek) front derailleur. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Leopard Trek team Madones are fitted with Bontrager DuoTrap wireless speed and cadence sensors.

Leopard Trek team Madones are fitted with Bontrager DuoTrap wireless speed and cadence sensors. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Fabian Cancellara's (Leopard Trek) spare Trek Madone was dressed up with gold anodized titanium bolts.

Fabian Cancellara's (Leopard Trek) spare Trek Madone was dressed up with gold anodized titanium bolts. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Bontrager's new 50mm-deep carbon tubular wheel features a wide profile - an idea that's quickly gaining in popularity.

Bontrager's new 50mm-deep carbon tubular wheel features a wide profile - an idea that's quickly gaining in popularity. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The rear hub on Bontrager's new 50mm-deep wheelset also uses a carbon-bodied hub but with an aluminum driveside spoke flange.

The rear hub on Bontrager's new 50mm-deep wheelset also uses a carbon-bodied hub but with an aluminum driveside spoke flange. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Bontrager's new 50mm-deep, wide-profile carbon tubulars made an appearance at this year's Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Bontrager's new 50mm-deep, wide-profile carbon tubulars made an appearance at this year's Ronde van Vlaanderen. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Bontrager uses its top-end Race XXX Light carbon fiber-bodied hub for its latest 50mm-deep carbon tubular wheels.

Bontrager uses its top-end Race XXX Light carbon fiber-bodied hub for its latest 50mm-deep carbon tubular wheels. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Typical Vision carbon rims use a random carbon finish and there's a step just inboard of the brake track. So what's this rim?

Typical Vision carbon rims use a random carbon finish and there's a step just inboard of the brake track. So what's this rim? (Image credit: James Huang)
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Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) had this mysterious Vision wheel on the front of his spare bike. It's not currently listed in the Vision catalog nor does the surface finish resemble that of other wheels in the lineup.

Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) had this mysterious Vision wheel on the front of his spare bike. It's not currently listed in the Vision catalog nor does the surface finish resemble that of other wheels in the lineup. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Liquigas wisely passed over lightweight carbon fiber cages in favor of stouter aluminum models from Elite.

Liquigas wisely passed over lightweight carbon fiber cages in favor of stouter aluminum models from Elite. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Liquigas ultra-light and stiff Cannondale Hollowgram SL cranks are fitted with SRAM chainrings.

Liquigas ultra-light and stiff Cannondale Hollowgram SL cranks are fitted with SRAM chainrings. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Omega Pharma-Lotto is using standard Campagnolo Record groups.

Omega Pharma-Lotto is using standard Campagnolo Record groups. (Image credit: James Huang)
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SRM doesn't make a Campagnolo-based power meter so this Omega Pharma-Lotto team bike uses one from FSA instead.

SRM doesn't make a Campagnolo-based power meter so this Omega Pharma-Lotto team bike uses one from FSA instead. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Many Mavic aluminum wheels in this year's Ronde van Vlaanderen featured the new Exalith sidewall treatment.

Many Mavic aluminum wheels in this year's Ronde van Vlaanderen featured the new Exalith sidewall treatment. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Mavic's new 40mm-deep wheels use exteral nipples for easier servicing.

Mavic's new 40mm-deep wheels use exteral nipples for easier servicing. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Mavic opts for aluminum - rather than carbon fiber - for the hub bodies on its new M40 wheels.

Mavic opts for aluminum - rather than carbon fiber - for the hub bodies on its new M40 wheels. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Mavic's new M40 wheels use sleek-looking aluminum-bodied hubs.

Mavic's new M40 wheels use sleek-looking aluminum-bodied hubs. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Omega Pharma-Lotto team bikes with carbon wheels were equipped with carbon-specific pads made for Mavic by SwissStop.

Omega Pharma-Lotto team bikes with carbon wheels were equipped with carbon-specific pads made for Mavic by SwissStop. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Some Omega Pharma-Lotto set off from Brugge using Mavic's new M40 40mm-deep carbon tubular wheels.

Some Omega Pharma-Lotto set off from Brugge using Mavic's new M40 40mm-deep carbon tubular wheels. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Omega Pharma-Lotto riders had the key sections of pave and designated climbs all laid out on their top tubes.

Omega Pharma-Lotto riders had the key sections of pave and designated climbs all laid out on their top tubes. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Canyon's new Aeroad CF isn't as stiff as the company's Ultimate CF SLX but it does offer a softer ride - something that Omega Pharma-Lotto team riders may have wanted for today.

Canyon's new Aeroad CF isn't as stiff as the company's Ultimate CF SLX but it does offer a softer ride - something that Omega Pharma-Lotto team riders may have wanted for today. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Liquigas team bikes used these custom chain watchers for extra insurance on the cobbles.

Liquigas team bikes used these custom chain watchers for extra insurance on the cobbles. (Image credit: James Huang)
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This Liquigas bike was equipped with 24mm-wide Vittoria tubulars mounted on Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels - but without the Exalith sidewall treatment.

This Liquigas bike was equipped with 24mm-wide Vittoria tubulars mounted on Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels - but without the Exalith sidewall treatment. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Liquigas bikes are fitted with SRAM Red transmissions.

Liquigas bikes are fitted with SRAM Red transmissions. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Liquigas was another Mavic-sponsored team using the company's new 40mm-deep carbon tubular wheels.

Liquigas was another Mavic-sponsored team using the company's new 40mm-deep carbon tubular wheels. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Liquigas used Cannondale SuperSix Hi-Mod machines for its run at Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Liquigas used Cannondale SuperSix Hi-Mod machines for its run at Ronde van Vlaanderen. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Speaking of mystery equipment, Filippo Pozzato's (Katusha) "Focus" also isn't a bike that's currently listed in the company catalog, nor does it share key design cues. We're guessing it's a custom build similar to what Ridley used to do for the flamboyant Italian last year.

Speaking of mystery equipment, Filippo Pozzato's (Katusha) "Focus" also isn't a bike that's currently listed in the company catalog, nor does it share key design cues. We're guessing it's a custom build similar to what Ridley used to do for the flamboyant Italian last year. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Another sign that Filippo Pozzato's bike is no off-the-shelf Focus. These dropouts are nowhere in its range.

Another sign that Filippo Pozzato's bike is no off-the-shelf Focus. These dropouts are nowhere in its range. (Image credit: James Huang)
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FDJ set off from Brugge on a mix of Lapierre Sensium and Xelium frames.

FDJ set off from Brugge on a mix of Lapierre Sensium and Xelium frames. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Movistar's Pinarello Dogma frames look to use identical internal access ports for Campagnolo's new electronic group as on Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 package.

Movistar's Pinarello Dogma frames look to use identical internal access ports for Campagnolo's new electronic group as on Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 package. (Image credit: James Huang)
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A simple bit of electrical wrap secures the wire to the front brake line on Campagnolo's new electronic group.

A simple bit of electrical wrap secures the wire to the front brake line on Campagnolo's new electronic group. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Aside from the aluminum inner plate, the motor and actuator rod are surrounded by a swath of carbon composite.

Aside from the aluminum inner plate, the motor and actuator rod are surrounded by a swath of carbon composite. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Campagnolo electronic rear derailleur still somehow manages to maintain the company's aesthetic sense, though the company will likely want to do something about the susceptibility to rust on that little spring.

The Campagnolo electronic rear derailleur still somehow manages to maintain the company's aesthetic sense, though the company will likely want to do something about the susceptibility to rust on that little spring. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The rear derailleur cage is borrowed from Campagnolo's Record group. Note the tied-and-soldered rear spokes on Movistar team wheels, too.

The rear derailleur cage is borrowed from Campagnolo's Record group. Note the tied-and-soldered rear spokes on Movistar team wheels, too. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Movistar brought a full fleet of Campagnolo electric-equipped Pinarello Dogmas to Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Movistar brought a full fleet of Campagnolo electric-equipped Pinarello Dogmas to Ronde van Vlaanderen. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Campagnolo's new electronic group still doesn't have an official name and is currently labeled with a generic "Campy Tech Lab" badge for now.

Campagnolo's new electronic group still doesn't have an official name and is currently labeled with a generic "Campy Tech Lab" badge for now. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Campagnolo's usual thumb paddle is replaced by a lever-style switch on the new electronic group.

Campagnolo's usual thumb paddle is replaced by a lever-style switch on the new electronic group. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The bright green hoods on Movistar's team bikes are no aftermarket bits - they're molded with the Campagnolo logo and look to include the same Vari-Cushion feature as on other Campagnolo Ergopower levers.

The bright green hoods on Movistar's team bikes are no aftermarket bits - they're molded with the Campagnolo logo and look to include the same Vari-Cushion feature as on other Campagnolo Ergopower levers. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Campagnolo electronic front derailleur is necessarily bulky to house all of the extra hardware.

The Campagnolo electronic front derailleur is necessarily bulky to house all of the extra hardware. (Image credit: James Huang)
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This Movistar bike sported an extra tether on the Campagnolo electronic group's battery, though curiously, the other end wasn't attached to anything.

This Movistar bike sported an extra tether on the Campagnolo electronic group's battery, though curiously, the other end wasn't attached to anything. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Movistar mechanics secured each battery to the down tube with electrical tape - perhaps just to keep them from rattling over the cobbles.

Movistar mechanics secured each battery to the down tube with electrical tape - perhaps just to keep them from rattling over the cobbles. (Image credit: James Huang)
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It looks like there's a charge port on the bottom of the Campagnolo electronic group's battery.

It looks like there's a charge port on the bottom of the Campagnolo electronic group's battery. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Movistar fitted all of its bikes with bright green hoods on the new Campagnolo electric levers.

Movistar fitted all of its bikes with bright green hoods on the new Campagnolo electric levers. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The shaped tubes are said to provide a softer ride on the Lapierred Sensium relative to the top-end Xelium.

The shaped tubes are said to provide a softer ride on the Lapierred Sensium relative to the top-end Xelium. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Some FDJ riders set off from Brugge with 35mm-deep Shimano Dura-Ace carbon tubulars.

Some FDJ riders set off from Brugge with 35mm-deep Shimano Dura-Ace carbon tubulars. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is using SRAM's Red BB30 crank.

Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is using SRAM's Red BB30 crank. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Filippo Pozzato's (Katusha) bike was fitted with Gore Ride-On sealed cables.

Filippo Pozzato's (Katusha) bike was fitted with Gore Ride-On sealed cables. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Another clue that Filippo Pozzato's (Katusha) bike is no standard Focus.

Another clue that Filippo Pozzato's (Katusha) bike is no standard Focus. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Filippo Pozzato's (Katusha) features a BB30 bottom bracket.

Filippo Pozzato's (Katusha) features a BB30 bottom bracket. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Filippo Pozzato had two spares atop team cars but it wasn't the standard Katusha team-issue Focus Izalco.

Filippo Pozzato had two spares atop team cars but it wasn't the standard Katusha team-issue Focus Izalco. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Garmin-Cervelo riders started out on Mavic's speedy Cosmic Carbone SLR.

Garmin-Cervelo riders started out on Mavic's speedy Cosmic Carbone SLR. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Rotor cleverly dressed up this outer chainring to look like one of its elliptical ones.

Rotor cleverly dressed up this outer chainring to look like one of its elliptical ones. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Garmin-Cervelo rider Tyler Farrar used double-wrapped bars to help save his hands on the cobbles.

Garmin-Cervelo rider Tyler Farrar used double-wrapped bars to help save his hands on the cobbles. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Garmin-Cervelo used a combination of Cervelo R3 and S3 bikes for Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Garmin-Cervelo used a combination of Cervelo R3 and S3 bikes for Ronde van Vlaanderen. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Garmin-Cervelo used a combination of Cervelo R3 and S3 bikes for Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Garmin-Cervelo used a combination of Cervelo R3 and S3 bikes for Ronde van Vlaanderen. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Garmin-Cervelo mechanics coated the chains with a layer of grease just prior to the start of this year's Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Garmin-Cervelo mechanics coated the chains with a layer of grease just prior to the start of this year's Ronde van Vlaanderen. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Other FDJ riders were using more traditional box-section tubular rims with Hutchinson tires.

Other FDJ riders were using more traditional box-section tubular rims with Hutchinson tires. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Lapierre says this "C+ elastomer provides a noticeable amount of cushioning to the rear end - a valuable asset to have on the cobbles.

Lapierre says this "C+ elastomer provides a noticeable amount of cushioning to the rear end - a valuable asset to have on the cobbles. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Two bits of paper - one on the stem and another on the top tube - call out the key cobble sections and climbs for Ronde van Vlaanderen on this FDJ machine.

Two bits of paper - one on the stem and another on the top tube - call out the key cobble sections and climbs for Ronde van Vlaanderen on this FDJ machine. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Omega Pharma-Lotto used a mix of Ultimate AL SLX and Aeroad CF machines from team sponsor Canyon.

Omega Pharma-Lotto used a mix of Ultimate AL SLX and Aeroad CF machines from team sponsor Canyon. (Image credit: James Huang)

Movistar hits the cobbles with new Campagnolo electronic group

Movistar will take Campagnolo's new electronic group on its cobbled debut at the Ronde van Vlaanderen with the entire team so equipped at the start in Brugge, Belgium.

Though Campagnolo continues to be coy about the group's release as a consumer product, all of the bits are impressively well finished and look to be simply undergoing final testing before being made available to the public (we're guessing at this year's Eurobike show).

At least conceptually, there are a number of similarities to Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 package on Campagnolo's group, including shift buttons placed in familiar positions analogous to the mechanical version, a rechargeable battery mounted below the bottle cage on the down tube, a tiny control box zip-tied to the stem, and powerful stepper motors housed inside each special derailleur with conventional limit adjust screws.

Campagnolo's battery is noticeably larger than a Di2 one but looks to have some additional features. The charge port is accessible without removing the battery from the mount and there's also an LED indicator in the opposite corner.

Interestingly, the battery also includes a loop for a short tether (as seen on one Movistar bike). Whether that's actually intended to save a self-ejecting battery during a ride is unclear (and it seems strange if that were the case), Movistar mechanics were nonetheless seen securing each battery to the down tubes of the riders' internally routed Pinarello Dogma frames with some electrical tape at the start area in Brugge – hopefully just to prevent rattling over the cobbles.

Trek experimenting with steel rear derailleur hangers

Breakaway rear derailleur hangers have saved countless frames since their inception but even with the best designs, they're often not as stiff as one-piece dropouts with integrated hangers. This can result in compromised shift performance given the tightly spaced cogs and occasionally finicky setup of modern 10- and 11-speed drivetrains but in a race situation, a hanger that an everyday consumer might want to break off (saving a frame) could also signal the end of the day for a pro who might prefer a damaged – but still rideable – bike instead.

Leopard Trek team bikes were equipped with machined steel hangers at the start of this year's Ronde van Vlaanderen in lieu of the standard aluminum ones on consumer bikes. According to Trek pro road team liaison Ben Coates, Trek is currently experimenting with several different hangers to determine the best balance of strength and stiffness for optimal performance – with stronger and stiffer giving better shift performance and durability in a crash but too much of a good thing possibly leading to a damaged dropout (and a dead frame).

Team bikes were also fitted with Bontrager's trick DuoTrap speed and cadence sensor integrated into the non-driveside chain stay and the bikes of some key riders – notably that of Ronde van Vlaanderen favorite Fabian Cancellara – was also outfitted with Shimano's gold-anodized Yumeya titanium bolt kit for a little extra bling factor.

New wide-profile wheels from Bontrager and Mavic plus

First it was Zipp and HED, and now Bontrager and Mavic who have jumped into the wide-profile carbon wheel fray with new models taking to the cobbles at this year's Tour of Flanders.

We'd seen Bontrager's new wheels before on Andy Schleck's bike at the Leopard Trek training camp in Mallorca back in January but the fact that they're here at De Ronde offers up evidence of Trek's confidence in their strength on the cobbles – though we'll have to wait and see if they'll still be in use for the ultimate test of road wheel durability next Sunday at Paris-Roubaix.

Just to recap, the new Bontrager carbon rims feature the same 50mm depth as the current Aeolus 5.0 but with a fatter 25mm width and a more rounded nose. The bladed spokes also use external rather than internal nipples, too, and they're laced to Bontager carbon-bodied hubs with guts borrowed from DT Swiss.

Team wheels were fitted with 25mm-wide Schwalbe tubulars for Ronde van Vlaanderen but we expect the riders to switch to fatter rubber come Sunday.

Meanwhile, Mavic's new medium-depth carbon tubular wheels were found on the bikes of Omega Pharma-Lotto, Liquigas, and Garmin-Cervélo. Measuring a modest 40mm deep, the so-called "M40" wheels boast a wider profile for better tire support and presumably improved strength. Based on claims from competitors' comparable wheels, we expect Mavic to tout better aerodynamics with wider tires, too.

Mavic laces the rims to brand-new – and sleek-looking – alloy-bodied hubs front and rear with 24 bladed stainless steel spokes and external nipples for easier servicing.

Mavic's new Exalith sidewall treatment was also widespread in the peloton, likely on account of their claimed better braking performance in the wet. These were absent on the company's new all-carbon M40 wheels but most of the Cosmic Carbone SLRs, Ksyrium SLs, and R-Sys wheels we spotted at the start were equipped with the uniquely textured surface.

Finally, Vision snuck a mysterious shallow-profile carbon tubular wheel (or perhaps a rebadged rim from a third party?) on to the front of Filippo Pozzato's Katusha team bike, too. The carbon tubular rim measures around 30mm in depth and is laced to Vision's standard aluminum front hub with 20 straight-pull bladed stainless steel spokes and external brass nipples.

Then again, the rear wheel on Pozzato's bike wore a Vision label but also didn't match up with the company's current 50mm rim offering so we're not exactly

Lapierre's new Sensium cushions the pavé

It's well known that the cobbles of De Ronde van Vlaanderen aren't nearly as brutal as the worse of Paris-Roubaix but even so, they're hardly glass-smooth, either. Several FDJ riders headed toward Meerbeke aboard Lapierre's new Sensium model, a full-carbon frame that uses specially shaped tubes, more relaxed geometry, and a small elastomer embedded in the seat stay wishbone to lend extra vertical flex as compared to the company's top-end Xelius model.

Naturally, there's also a tapered head tube, a heavily reinforced bottom bracket area, and internal cable routing, too.

Assuming all goes well at Ronde van Vlaanderen, we're guessing we'll see more FDJ riders on the Sensium come Paris-Roubaix where the riders will want every bit of help they can get.

This article first appeared here on Bikeradar.