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Tour de France tech: Look good, feel good, go fast

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The laser-etched clasp is a nice touch.

The laser-etched clasp is a nice touch. (Image credit: James Huang)
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There are even fake cutaways with images of hydraulic lines and wiring beneath.

There are even fake cutaways with images of hydraulic lines and wiring beneath. (Image credit: James Huang)
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It's tough to see in the image but that yellow arrow pointing towards the fork tip says, 'RESCUE'.

It's tough to see in the image but that yellow arrow pointing towards the fork tip says, 'RESCUE'. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Mark Cavendish (Columbia-High Road) is shooting down the competition with this custom Scott Addict.

Mark Cavendish (Columbia-High Road) is shooting down the competition with this custom Scott Addict. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Intricate painted-on rivets give Cavendish's bike the appearance of aluminum sheet.

Intricate painted-on rivets give Cavendish's bike the appearance of aluminum sheet. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Cavendish's 'Sprint Air Force' bike sports a WWII dog fighter theme, complete with a pseudo British Royal Air Force roundel.

Cavendish's 'Sprint Air Force' bike sports a WWII dog fighter theme, complete with a pseudo British Royal Air Force roundel. (Image credit: James Huang)
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SRM gets in on the action, too, with this custom green PowerControl VI computer head.

SRM gets in on the action, too, with this custom green PowerControl VI computer head. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Even with the custom paint the team of course still finds room for all of the sponsor decals.

Even with the custom paint the team of course still finds room for all of the sponsor decals. (Image credit: James Huang)
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This set of wings will be joined with another set after Cavendish's latest victory in stage 3. How many more will we see here on the way to Paris?

This set of wings will be joined with another set after Cavendish's latest victory in stage 3. How many more will we see here on the way to Paris? (Image credit: James Huang)
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The front hub uses a carbon fiber body and aluminum flanges.

The front hub uses a carbon fiber body and aluminum flanges. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Hmm, this looks like a Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLR and smells like Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLR… but it's no Cosmic Carbone SLR.

Hmm, this looks like a Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLR and smells like Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLR… but it's no Cosmic Carbone SLR. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The rear hub looks to be borrowed from the Cosmic Carbone SL.

The rear hub looks to be borrowed from the Cosmic Carbone SL. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The as-yet-unnamed Mavic prototype uses a 55mm-deep all-carbon tubular rim and bladed stainless steel spokes.

The as-yet-unnamed Mavic prototype uses a 55mm-deep all-carbon tubular rim and bladed stainless steel spokes. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The rest of the Liquigas team was using Mavic's lighter Cosmic Carbone Ultimate for stage 3.

The rest of the Liquigas team was using Mavic's lighter Cosmic Carbone Ultimate for stage 3. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Oakley front man Steve Blick hard at work in the team areas making sure all of his riders have what they need.

Oakley front man Steve Blick hard at work in the team areas making sure all of his riders have what they need. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Get the Oakley PitBoss and this neat case comes for free.

Get the Oakley PitBoss and this neat case comes for free. (Image credit: James Huang)
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George Hincapie (Columbia-High Road) likes his Jawbones in white and yellow and come September of this year, you'll be able to pick your own colors, too.

George Hincapie (Columbia-High Road) likes his Jawbones in white and yellow and come September of this year, you'll be able to pick your own colors, too. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Meet PitBoss, the first installment of Oakley's new Elite range.

Meet PitBoss, the first installment of Oakley's new Elite range. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Oakley PitBoss looks cool but it won't be cheap. You'll either need US$750-800 to get a pair or win a heap of Grand Tour stages like Mark Cavendish, who already has some for himself.

The Oakley PitBoss looks cool but it won't be cheap. You'll either need US$750-800 to get a pair or win a heap of Grand Tour stages like Mark Cavendish, who already has some for himself. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Forged titanium plates and special faceted Oakley icons adorn the sides.

Forged titanium plates and special faceted Oakley icons adorn the sides. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Oakley will add 'Anti-Freeze' to its range of Radar frame colors plus a new Jade Iridium tint, which is said to provide better color resolution in super-bright conditions.

Oakley will add 'Anti-Freeze' to its range of Radar frame colors plus a new Jade Iridium tint, which is said to provide better color resolution in super-bright conditions. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Oakley is also providing watches for the podium.

Oakley is also providing watches for the podium. (Image credit: James Huang)

The 'Sprint Air Force', that is.

Team Columbia-High Road's superstar sprinter showed up to the line in Marseilles with one of the most elaborately finished machines in recent memory. His Scott Addict may be made of carbon fiber but its dark grey surface looks more like the riveted aluminum skin of a an old WWII dogfighter.

The theme continues further with a painted-on pin-up girl on the head tube, a classically styled 'Cavendish' scrawled in cursive on the top tube, and a pseudo-British Royal Air Force roundel on the seat cluster. The inner sides of the chain stays and fork blades even feature fake cutaways with images of hydraulic lines and wires running beneath.

The best part however is still a work in progress. Just as fighter pilots mark their planes with each successive kill, Cavendish's top tube wore a small pair of wings to celebrate his stage victory in Montpellier – and tomorrow there will be yet another set after his clear victory into La Grande-Motte.

No surprisingly, the graphics designer left an awful lot of room on that top tube, perhaps knowing that Cavendish intends to make it all the way to Paris this year. How many more pairs of wings will there be by the end of the Tour?

New Oakley premium collection on the way

If you already thought Oakley sunglasses were expensive, you'd better grab a seat and hold on tight to your Foster Grants. Oakley showed off an even more premium Elite range of eyewear at this year's Tour de France that features a decidedly keener sense of style, a more labor-intensive assembly process and higher-end materials – not to mention a price to match.

The Elite collection will comprise three different models, the first of which is a more lifestyle-oriented piece dubbed PitBoss. The overall shape uses some familiar Oakley styling cues but the sides of the frame and forward section of the temples are now covered in forged titanium plates for a unique look. Custom orbital bolts hold the lenses in careful alignment, the 'O' icon bears an exclusive faceted surface and it all comes in its own special case, too.

Of course, there is also a lot of attention paid to the PitBoss' optics, which employ the full range of Oakley technologies: High Definition Optics geometry, a polarizing filter, and the handy oil- and waterproof permanent hard coating. The PitBoss will also be offered in a prescription version.

Suggested retail cost however is a priority-reevaluating US$750-800.

Oakley is keeping mum on the next two Elite models but its web site strongly suggests that carbon fiber will somehow be involved. Given their anticipated U$1,500 and US$4,000 price tags, we would expect as such – plus maybe a nice dinner for two and tickets to a show.

In other Oakley new, the popular Radar will now be offered in a new ultra-bright green frame color called 'Anti-Freeze', there's a new 7mm-taller Radar XL lens to give riders a clearer view of the road when their heads are down (think time trial and triathlon) – and consumers will be able to create their own custom Jawbone color combinations beginning September 2009.

Liquigas shows up to Stage 3 with new Mavic wheels

For stage 3, Liquigas equipped some of its Cannondale SuperSix Hi-Mod team bikes with Mavic's previously elusive deeper-section carbon wheels – only loosely disguised with some production Cosmic Carbone SLR decals.

First and foremost, the new as-yet-unnamed wheels bear more aggressively profiled all-carbon tubular rims measuring roughly 55mm tall as compared to the current Cosmic Carbone Ultimate's more versatile 40mm dimension. In addition, these prototypes eschew co-molded carbon spokes in favor of more conventional straight-pull bladed spokes made of stainless steel (16 front/20 rear) plus internal nipples for easier serviceability.

Like the Ultimate though the rim looks to be a true one-piece construct with a structural carbon skin – versus the SLR with its aluminum rim and somewhat squishy carbon 'cap' – so the spokes are anchored right in the rim apex and not further in by the tire. Readers may debate the relative advantages of each arrangement but at the very least, this setup yields shorter and slightly lighter spokes.

The rear hub looks to be borrowed from the similarly steel-spoked Cosmic Carbone SL but the front is a unique bit built with a carbon fiber shell and aluminum flanges. Mavic's convenient one-tool bearing adjustment mechanism carries over as well.

Mavic was mum on further details when asked, offering only the following statement: "Those are specially designed SSC [Special Service Course] product for now," said US marketing director Sean Sullivan. "This is just more athlete testing under our SSC program. There are a couple of new wheels they're testing out and have been riding since late spring. Keep your eyes peeled in the aero category."

As a result we have no claimed weights to report for now. However, based on the known figures for the various members of the Cosmic Carbone family (Ultimate, SLR and SL), we would estimate these prototypes to be less than 1,400g for the pair – not ultralight but still quite competitive.

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