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Tour de France tech: Custom aero bottles for Rabobank

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Giant ran into some issues with the UCI prior to last year's Tour de France but now that things have stabilized, Rabobank can instead concentrate on the business of going fast.

Giant ran into some issues with the UCI prior to last year's Tour de France but now that things have stabilized, Rabobank can instead concentrate on the business of going fast. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) continues to favor one-piece integrated bars on his road bikes.

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) continues to favor one-piece integrated bars on his road bikes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rabobank's wheels have conspicuous "PROtotype" decals on them but they're really just rebadged HED rims.

Rabobank's wheels have conspicuous "PROtotype" decals on them but they're really just rebadged HED rims. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rabobank's custom time trial bottles and cages are designed so that the rider doesn't have to break his tuck to take a drink - just slide an arm back a little, grab, and go.

Rabobank's custom time trial bottles and cages are designed so that the rider doesn't have to break his tuck to take a drink - just slide an arm back a little, grab, and go. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Giant team liaison Andy Wollny told us that the Rabobank team's custom time trial bottles and carbon cages were designed, built, and delivered in just four weeks.

Giant team liaison Andy Wollny told us that the Rabobank team's custom time trial bottles and carbon cages were designed, built, and delivered in just four weeks. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rabobank's Giant Trinity Advanced SL time trial bikes continue to use their unique cam-operated single-pivot front brakes.

Rabobank's Giant Trinity Advanced SL time trial bikes continue to use their unique cam-operated single-pivot front brakes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Time trial technology is progressing incredibly quickly these days. Whereas Rabobank's Giant Trinity Advanced SL looked cutting edge just a few years ago, this front brake line dangling out in the wind now looks a little clumsy.

Time trial technology is progressing incredibly quickly these days. Whereas Rabobank's Giant Trinity Advanced SL looked cutting edge just a few years ago, this front brake line dangling out in the wind now looks a little clumsy. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rabobank team mechanics make liberal use of electrical tape in order to clean up the wiring and cover up access holes.

Rabobank team mechanics make liberal use of electrical tape in order to clean up the wiring and cover up access holes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Giant says its research shows that upright edges are more efficient at cutting through the air than angled ones - hence the unusual lines of Rabobank's Trinity Advanced SL.

Giant says its research shows that upright edges are more efficient at cutting through the air than angled ones - hence the unusual lines of Rabobank's Trinity Advanced SL. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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fi'zi:k's anti-slip saddle appliques are apparently hard to come by. This Rabobank rider gets by with a strip of friction tape to see from sliding around on the nose of the saddle.

fi'zi:k's anti-slip saddle appliques are apparently hard to come by. This Rabobank rider gets by with a strip of friction tape to see from sliding around on the nose of the saddle. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Alberto Contador's (Saxo Bank-Sungard) mechanic, Faustino Munoz, regularly infuses a number of personal touches such as the anodized aluminum cable housing.

Alberto Contador's (Saxo Bank-Sungard) mechanic, Faustino Munoz, regularly infuses a number of personal touches such as the anodized aluminum cable housing. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Derailleur cables on Alberto Contador's (Saxo Bank-Sungard) Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 are fully sealed to maintain shifting performance.

Derailleur cables on Alberto Contador's (Saxo Bank-Sungard) Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 are fully sealed to maintain shifting performance. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) switched teams last year but conveniently still gets to use his old bike.

Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) switched teams last year but conveniently still gets to use his old bike. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The custom painted Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 of Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) is easy to pick out against those of his teammates.

The custom painted Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 of Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) is easy to pick out against those of his teammates. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The short aluminum bridge joining the armrests on Rabobank's Giant Trinity Advanced SL time trial bikes also provides the mounting point for a custom bottle and cage.

The short aluminum bridge joining the armrests on Rabobank's Giant Trinity Advanced SL time trial bikes also provides the mounting point for a custom bottle and cage. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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It's a good thing it wasn't terribly hot during the team time trial. Giro says the deep internal channels still keeps air moving through but especially with the full-coverage visor in place, this thing looks a little hot.

It's a good thing it wasn't terribly hot during the team time trial. Giro says the deep internal channels still keeps air moving through but especially with the full-coverage visor in place, this thing looks a little hot. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rabobank used Giro's new Selector helmets during the team time trial.

Rabobank used Giro's new Selector helmets during the team time trial. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) is using Corima's all-carbon tubulars.

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) is using Corima's all-carbon tubulars. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) is one of just a handful of riders in the peloton to use Specialized's new 'Project Black' McLaren development bike.

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) is one of just a handful of riders in the peloton to use Specialized's new 'Project Black' McLaren development bike. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Astana's Corima wheels use all-carbon hub shells with the exception of the aluminum driveside spoke flange.

Astana's Corima wheels use all-carbon hub shells with the exception of the aluminum driveside spoke flange. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Astana is sponsored by SRAM so the extra ports for Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 system go unused.

Astana is sponsored by SRAM so the extra ports for Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 system go unused. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Selle Italia has provided Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) with a new custom Monolink Friction Free version of its popular Flite.

Selle Italia has provided Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) with a new custom Monolink Friction Free version of its popular Flite. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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FSA has licensed Selle Italia's Monolink seatpost design, meaning there will be more options for consumers next season. Word has it that Ritchey and Kalloy have signed on, too.

FSA has licensed Selle Italia's Monolink seatpost design, meaning there will be more options for consumers next season. Word has it that Ritchey and Kalloy have signed on, too. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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ven Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) only has one Specialized McLaren test bike to use. His spare bike is his old S-Works Tarmac SL3 but it's set up with the same new Selle Italia Flite Monolink Friction Free saddle and FSA K-Force Monolink post as on his main machine.

ven Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) only has one Specialized McLaren test bike to use. His spare bike is his old S-Works Tarmac SL3 but it's set up with the same new Selle Italia Flite Monolink Friction Free saddle and FSA K-Force Monolink post as on his main machine. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Specialized road R&D head Chris D'Aluisio takes a final walk in the team pit area before handing over his personal bike to HTC-Highroad.

Specialized road R&D head Chris D'Aluisio takes a final walk in the team pit area before handing over his personal bike to HTC-Highroad. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Say goodbye to your bike, Chris D'Aluisio - we're sure HTC-Highroad will take good care of it and will return it in identical (if not better) condition at the end of July.

Say goodbye to your bike, Chris D'Aluisio - we're sure HTC-Highroad will take good care of it and will return it in identical (if not better) condition at the end of July. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Two of these people are happy. One is not. Sorry, Chris D'Aluisio, there are only so many of these Specialized McLaren test bikes to go around and those HTC-Highroad guys need them more than you do right now.

Two of these people are happy. One is not. Sorry, Chris D'Aluisio, there are only so many of these Specialized McLaren test bikes to go around and those HTC-Highroad guys need them more than you do right now. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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We're curious to see if HTC-Highroad bothers to replace this name decal with the proper one.

We're curious to see if HTC-Highroad bothers to replace this name decal with the proper one. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Specialized 'Project Black' McLaren test bikes get these coded labels, which in this case appears to designate the date of production.

Specialized 'Project Black' McLaren test bikes get these coded labels, which in this case appears to designate the date of production. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Specialized's field test bikes are apparently kept on a pretty short leash - each has its own bar code for inventory purposes.

Specialized's field test bikes are apparently kept on a pretty short leash - each has its own bar code for inventory purposes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) has not one, but two custom painted Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3s.

Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) has not one, but two custom painted Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3s. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)

Rabobank previews custom TT bottles at Stage 2

Rabobank riders didn't need to worry about hydration during the short team time trial but the penultimate stage's individual effort will be a slightly different story. Instead of standard frame mounted bottles, though, Rabobank will have fluids mounted right up front on the aerobars.

Rabobank's latest Giant Trinity Advanced SL cockpits have a short aluminum bridge spanning the armrest mounts. Rivnuts mounted here will eventually provide anchor points for custom carbon fiber cages and slimline bottles pointed straight into the wind. The bottles themselves will present minimal additional frontal area as they're smaller than normal to fit in between armrests but more importantly, their placement will allow the riders to maintain their tuck even when grabbing a drink.

According to Giant team liaison Andy Wollny, riders will simply have to slide one arm slightly rearward, pop the bottle out and bring it up to their mouth, then snap it back in place. Wollny says he worked with his long-time custom fabricator in Taiwan for the design and drawing to delivery took a scant four weeks – just a blink of an eye when you consider the time delay of molded parts like this.

Rabobank's custom time trial bottles and cages are designed so that the rider doesn't have to break his tuck to take a drink

Selle Italia expands Monolink and Friction Free range, gains new manufacturing partners

Astana captain Alexandre Vinokourov's Specialized Project Black S-Works McLaren previewed the expansion of the Selle Italia Friction Free Monolink saddle range, which up until now has included just two modified SLR models and Selle Italia's own carbon fiber seatpost. Though the unusually narrow nose's notably free-pedaling feel has been intriguing (and it might even offer some slight power gains), the exorbitant cost for the post-and-saddle combination has been highly prohibitive.

In a logical move, Selle Italia's newest Monolink saddle is a modified version of its iconic Flite with the same slimmed-down nose dimensions and highly adjustable carbon fiber central rail as the current SLR models. Vinokourov's particular perch is finished in Astana team colors with his trademark 'The Thing' graphics, however, and his carbon fiber seatpost is a new K-Force model from FSA. No pricing has been announced from FSA but as long as it's cheaper than the US$319.99 Selle Italia model, it's a step in the right direction.

We expect FSA to offer an even less expensive SL-K model, too, and a recent visit to Selle Italia's Asolo, Italy headquarters revealed that Ritchey and Kalloy have signed on as well. Ultimately, Selle Italia says we can expect to see a relatively low-cost Monolink Friction combination that will cost less than US$200.

FSA have licensed Selle Italia's Monolink seatpost design, meaning there'll be more options for consumers next season

Specialized taps its own employees for more McLaren development bikes

Specialized has a bit of a supply and demand problem at this year's Tour de France. It sponsors three teams with bikes, each of those teams has nine riders, and yet the company has only provided two of the new Project Black S-Works McLaren development bikes per squad for testing and feedback purposes. That may suffice in normal everyday situations and lesser races but this is the Tour de France, and anything less than the best simply won't cut it.

Conveniently for HTC-Highroad, Specialized road R&D head Chris D'Aluisio was on site during the first few days of the race and had his personal test rig with him. Sadly for D'Aluisio, though, that also meant that he had to turn it over to the team – meaning no more bike rides during the rest of his stay in France.

According to Specialized PR man Nic Sims, all of the teams will continue to get more development bikes as they become available – as soon as within the next few days.

Two of these people are happy. One isn't. Sorry, Chris D'Aluisio – there are only so many of these Specialized McLaren test bikes to go around and those HTC-Highroad guys need them more than you do right now

Specialized is mum on technical changes on the McLaren development bikes relative to the standard Tarmac SL4, though, but based on the experience with the Venge collaboration, it's safe to assume that the 'Project Black' bikes are a touch lighter and a bit stiffer, too – two qualities pro teams can never have in excess.

Unlike the pro-spec development bikes, D'Aluisio's frame is equipped with standard internal cable routing instead of the team-only Di2-only setups. Someone we get the feeling that the mechanics probably won't have much of a problem getting around that little hiccup, though.

One rider who notably isn't on one of the new machines is last year's Tour de France winner, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard), who is still using his elaborately custom painted S-Works Tarmac SL3 bikes from last year. According to Sims, Contador simply hasn't had enough testing time on the updated version to race on it for such an important event so he stuck with what he knew.

The custom painted Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 of Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) is easy to pick out against those of his teammates

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar