The Tour de Suisse got underway on Saturday with an 18.3-kilometre team time trial in Frauenfeld. BMC Racing took the honours on the day with home favourite Stefan Küng taking the first leaders jersey of the nine-stage race. Ahead of each team setting off, Cyclingnews had a look at some of the tech on display at the Tour de France warm-up.
Despite rain forecast for the afternoon, the Swiss summer heat kept the rain at bay and temperatures rose close to 30-degrees Celsius. Keeping cool is crucial and riders from a number of teams donned ice vests on their way to the start line in an attempt to keep the core temperatures down, while others poured cool water over their heads, necks and skinsuits.
Team assistants and soigneurs were also on hand with coolers of cold drinks at the start and finish line and stockings filled with ice and placed under the speedsuit is another method to prevent overheating.
The rolling course included 190 metres of climbing and offered enough of a challenge to see some early splits between the GC contenders. Nothing other than full time trial bikes and equipment including helmets, clothing, disc wheels and aero cockpits were used.
BMC Racing clocked an average speed of more than 54km/h for the stage, largely in part to the 58-tooth chainrings they, and many other teams, adopted for the stage.
In pursuit of every last second, speedsuits are now the norm. Frequently tailored for individual pro riders, the speedsuits also use specialist technology to improve airflow over body parts and limbs. Dimension Data, EF Education First-Drapac and Team Sunweb use ribbed sleeves in an attempt to reduce drag on the arms, while Team Sky and Movistar use a textured material on the shoulder and upper arms with the same objective.
Teams will always push the UCI technical regulations to the limit in pursuit of seconds and aero oversocks are no different. UCI technical regulations state that socks must not extend above the middle of the leg, though several riders have perhaps pushed this regulation beyond the legal limit.
Each team uses turbo trainers outside their team bus ahead of time trials for extensive warm-ups, but then have to arrive at the start at least fifteen minutes ahead of their start time to allow UCI commisaires to check each rider's bike is legal. Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe) was the only rider who set up a turbo trainer at the start line to keep the blood flowing until minutes before the start. Other riders including Taylor Phinney, Tim Wellens, Michael Matthews and Nairo Quintana took the opportunity for some extensive stretching ahead of their efforts.
Depending on rider race programmes, time trialling days can come few and far between over the season. With this in mind, teams with smaller budgets may choose to save the best components for their more frequently used road bikes and Shimano Ultegra components were being used by several WorldTour and Pro Continental teams on their time trial bikes for the stage.
Click or swipe through the extensive gallery above to see the tech on display at stage 1 of the Tour de Suisse.
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