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Race tech: Giro d'Italia 2014 road bikes

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Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) is hoping for a few more stage wins aboard his trusty Giant Propel Advanced

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) is hoping for a few more stage wins aboard his trusty Giant Propel Advanced
(Image credit: James Huang)
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BMC riders used a mix of Impec and SLR01 chassis

BMC riders used a mix of Impec and SLR01 chassis
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Tyler Farrar's (Garmin-Sharp) Cervélo S3

Tyler Farrar's (Garmin-Sharp) Cervélo S3
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Garmin-Sharp riders are mostly on the Cervélo S3 aero model but the R5 is still an available option

Garmin-Sharp riders are mostly on the Cervélo S3 aero model but the R5 is still an available option
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Whereas it's fairly rare to see scraped-up mechanical derailleurs on riders' bikes, it isn't entirely uncommon to see electronic ones with battle scars since they're so expensive to replace

Whereas it's fairly rare to see scraped-up mechanical derailleurs on riders' bikes, it isn't entirely uncommon to see electronic ones with battle scars since they're so expensive to replace
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Lampre-Merida is using Power2Max power meters

Lampre-Merida is using Power2Max power meters
(Image credit: James Huang)
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More wider-profile tires, this time on the bikes of Lampre-Merida. Mounting them to correspondingly wider rims would be a better match, though

More wider-profile tires, this time on the bikes of Lampre-Merida. Mounting them to correspondingly wider rims would be a better match, though
(Image credit: James Huang)
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While the Merida Reacto Evo frameset itself likely doesn't give much bumps, the flex built into the seatposts looks to give riders a little relief on rough roads

While the Merida Reacto Evo frameset itself likely doesn't give much bumps, the flex built into the seatposts looks to give riders a little relief on rough roads
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Lampre-Merida's Merida Reacto Evo aero road machines are certainly hard to miss

Lampre-Merida's Merida Reacto Evo aero road machines are certainly hard to miss
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Prologo provides the Tinkoff-Saxo team with color coordinated saddles

Prologo provides the Tinkoff-Saxo team with color coordinated saddles
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Tinkoff-Saxo's fleet of new Specialized S-Works Tarmacs lined up and at the ready before the start of stage 2

Tinkoff-Saxo's fleet of new Specialized S-Works Tarmacs lined up and at the ready before the start of stage 2
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Omega Pharma-Quick Step's new Specialized S-Works Tarmac

Omega Pharma-Quick Step's new Specialized S-Works Tarmac
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Interestingly, Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) runs his fi'zi:k Arione saddle with a slight upward tilt

Interestingly, Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) runs his fi'zi:k Arione saddle with a slight upward tilt
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Rebadged Veloflex tubulars are glued to Mavic Cosmic CXR 60 carbon wheels on Tyler Farrar's (Garmin-Sharp) Cervélo S3

Rebadged Veloflex tubulars are glued to Mavic Cosmic CXR 60 carbon wheels on Tyler Farrar's (Garmin-Sharp) Cervélo S3
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Team Sky's Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Think2 machines

Team Sky's Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Think2 machines
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Colombia team were mostly on Wilier Triestina's lightweight Zero.7

The Colombia team were mostly on Wilier Triestina's lightweight Zero.7
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Saddle preference is not something to trivialize for the pros. If a rider insists on using one that isn't sponsor-correct, that wish is often granted

Saddle preference is not something to trivialize for the pros. If a rider insists on using one that isn't sponsor-correct, that wish is often granted
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Belkin is using Pioneer's latest-generation power meters

Belkin is using Pioneer's latest-generation power meters
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Belkin riders used Bianchi Oltre XR2 rigs across the board

Belkin riders used Bianchi Oltre XR2 rigs across the board
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Bigger riders were less intimidated by the wicked crosswinds that were expected on Northern Ireland's coastal roads

Bigger riders were less intimidated by the wicked crosswinds that were expected on Northern Ireland's coastal roads
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Yukiya Arashiro's (Europcar) custom painted Colnago celebrates his status as Japanese national road champion

Yukiya Arashiro's (Europcar) custom painted Colnago celebrates his status as Japanese national road champion
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Rain - at some point - is a virtual certainty in Northern Ireland so this Astana rider wanted to be prepared instead of having to wait for the team car

Rain - at some point - is a virtual certainty in Northern Ireland so this Astana rider wanted to be prepared instead of having to wait for the team car
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Campagnolo Super Record RS group is functionally nearly identical to the standard Super Record package except with a few tweaks to beef up the front shifting performance under load

The Campagnolo Super Record RS group is functionally nearly identical to the standard Super Record package except with a few tweaks to beef up the front shifting performance under load
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Specialized sponsors three teams in this year's Giro d'Italia. This S-Works Tarmac belongs to the Astana squad

Specialized sponsors three teams in this year's Giro d'Italia. This S-Works Tarmac belongs to the Astana squad
(Image credit: James Huang)
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This is a pretty standard payload for a team car that will be in the race that day

This is a pretty standard payload for a team car that will be in the race that day
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Two custom painted Canyon Aeroad CFs sit atop the Katusha team car

Two custom painted Canyon Aeroad CFs sit atop the Katusha team car
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Canyon sponsors both the Katusha team shown here and the Movistar squad. The latter's title sponsor has tighter restrictions on how the bikes look, though, so generally speaking you'll only see custom painted Canyons in the Katusha camp

Canyon sponsors both the Katusha team shown here and the Movistar squad. The latter's title sponsor has tighter restrictions on how the bikes look, though, so generally speaking you'll only see custom painted Canyons in the Katusha camp
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Domenico Pozzovivo's (Ag2r-La Mondiale) Focus Izalco Max before the start of stage 2

Domenico Pozzovivo's (Ag2r-La Mondiale) Focus Izalco Max before the start of stage 2
(Image credit: James Huang)
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We've spotted lots of riders and teams shoehorn Campagnolo pads into non-Campagnolo brake calipers

We've spotted lots of riders and teams shoehorn Campagnolo pads into non-Campagnolo brake calipers
(Image credit: James Huang)
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While many riders are starting to move to wider tires, Lotto-Belisol sprinter Adam Hansen stuck with 22mm tubulars at the start of stage 2

While many riders are starting to move to wider tires, Lotto-Belisol sprinter Adam Hansen stuck with 22mm tubulars at the start of stage 2
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Campagnolo Super Record EPS front derailleur is backed up with a K-Edge chain catcher. The charge port for the internally housed battery is situated on the seat tube just below the bottle cage

The Campagnolo Super Record EPS front derailleur is backed up with a K-Edge chain catcher. The charge port for the internally housed battery is situated on the seat tube just below the bottle cage
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) uses unusually narrow bars, saying it's not only more aerodynamic but also helps him squeeze through holes in bunch sprints

Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) uses unusually narrow bars, saying it's not only more aerodynamic but also helps him squeeze through holes in bunch sprints
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) runs his saddle slammed forward (on a blacked-out Thomson seatpost) and lots of bar drop for a hyper-aggressive position

Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) runs his saddle slammed forward (on a blacked-out Thomson seatpost) and lots of bar drop for a hyper-aggressive position
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Adam Hansen's (Lotto-Belisol) bike is generally quite easy to spot given his unique position

Adam Hansen's (Lotto-Belisol) bike is generally quite easy to spot given his unique position
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Lotto-Belisol riders used a mix of Ridley Noah FAST aero bikes and more traditional Helium models

Lotto-Belisol riders used a mix of Ridley Noah FAST aero bikes and more traditional Helium models
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Giant-Shimano riders were evenly split between Giant's aero Propel Advanced and more traditional TCR Advanced SL models

Giant-Shimano riders were evenly split between Giant's aero Propel Advanced and more traditional TCR Advanced SL models
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Even sprinters are getting into the 25mm tire game

Even sprinters are getting into the 25mm tire game
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) likely extracts more benefit from this extra-stiff PRO carbon stem than most

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) likely extracts more benefit from this extra-stiff PRO carbon stem than most
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Semi-anatomic drop bars and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (with supplemental sprint shift buttons, of course) for Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano)

Semi-anatomic drop bars and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (with supplemental sprint shift buttons, of course) for Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano)
(Image credit: James Huang)
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While stock Giant Propel Advanceds come with molded carbon fiber brake arms, team bikes instead go with machined aluminum calipers from Fouriers

While stock Giant Propel Advanceds come with molded carbon fiber brake arms, team bikes instead go with machined aluminum calipers from Fouriers
(Image credit: James Huang)
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A supplemental clamp is in place to keep the seatpost from slipping inside the frame on Adam Hansen's (Lotto-Belisol) Ridley Helium

A supplemental clamp is in place to keep the seatpost from slipping inside the frame on Adam Hansen's (Lotto-Belisol) Ridley Helium
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek Factory Racing set off from Belfast on a mix of Trek Madones and Domanes

Trek Factory Racing set off from Belfast on a mix of Trek Madones and Domanes
(Image credit: James Huang)
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With Trek's new Madone-like geometry variant for the team-spec Domane, riders have less of a reason to stick with the usual Madone for road stages

With Trek's new Madone-like geometry variant for the team-spec Domane, riders have less of a reason to stick with the usual Madone for road stages
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Cannondale team really wants to make sure its riders' transponders don't fall off

The Cannondale team really wants to make sure its riders' transponders don't fall off
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Small rubber o-rings help keep the housing from rubbing paint off of the frame

Small rubber o-rings help keep the housing from rubbing paint off of the frame
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Fi'zi:k provides Ivan Basso (Cannondale) with a unique Arione saddle with an unmarked cover and what looks to be a custom padding profile. The sides of the seatpost clamp are smoothed over with electrical tape

Fi'zi:k provides Ivan Basso (Cannondale) with a unique Arione saddle with an unmarked cover and what looks to be a custom padding profile. The sides of the seatpost clamp are smoothed over with electrical tape
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Ivan Basso's (Cannondale) Cannondale Hollowgram SiSL2 crankarms are augmented by an SRM power meter

Ivan Basso's (Cannondale) Cannondale Hollowgram SiSL2 crankarms are augmented by an SRM power meter
(Image credit: James Huang)
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A short section of segmented aluminum housing makes for a smoother bend as the brake line enters the frame

A short section of segmented aluminum housing makes for a smoother bend as the brake line enters the frame
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Ivan Basso (Cannondale) prefers a traditional-bend FSA aluminum bar clamped in a 140mm-long stem

Ivan Basso (Cannondale) prefers a traditional-bend FSA aluminum bar clamped in a 140mm-long stem
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Ivan Basso's (Cannondale) Cannondale SuperSix EVO

Ivan Basso's (Cannondale) Cannondale SuperSix EVO
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Cannondale's brilliantly simple method for transporting team bikes underneath the bus

Cannondale's brilliantly simple method for transporting team bikes underneath the bus
(Image credit: James Huang)
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SRAM's mid-length WiFli rear derailleurs make the mechanics' lives a little easier since they don't have to change anything else when riders want to use bigger cassettes

SRAM's mid-length WiFli rear derailleurs make the mechanics' lives a little easier since they don't have to change anything else when riders want to use bigger cassettes
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek BAT cages are lightweight and hold bottles tightly

Trek BAT cages are lightweight and hold bottles tightly
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Neat number holders for the Trek Factory Racing team

Neat number holders for the Trek Factory Racing team
(Image credit: James Huang)

Aerodynamic bikes may be all the rage in the road bike market these days but you'd hardly know it by looking at the bikes used by riders starting stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia. Of the 22 teams on hand, only about half a dozen were primarily on aero rigs while another two or three fielded a mixed group. Nearly everyone else was on a nominally round-tubed machine. 

Several factors seemed to play a role in this decision. Many teams here are sponsored by companies that don't yet make an aero model, plus the second half of the route along the coastal edge of Northern Ireland was expected to include some potentially wicked crosswinds (that never really materialized) where deep-profile tubes could have proved tough to handle.

Even squads with easy access to aero bikes didn't use them, however, such as Astana, BMC, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and Tinkoff-Saxo. Mind you, three of those are sponsored by Specialized, who recently launched a new Tarmac model and may have wanted a little more attention paid that way.

Most teams certainly still opted for aero wheels, though, but section depths mostly hovered at a modest 30-50mm or so. We noticed plenty of 25mm-wide tubular tires, too, even from teams that don't have a wide-profile rim to match. Even stage winner Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) used 25mm-wide Vittoria tubulars on his Giant Propel Advanced machine.

Aerodynamic drawbacks or not to the mismatch, it seems that more than a few racers may have been prompted by the perpetually threatening weather to go the conservative route in terms of grip.