One of the prominent themes found at the UCI Road World Championships elite men's individual time trial was the propensity for customisation of bikes and kit.
It is a tool used primarily by brands for the celebration of success, and going custom is almost an inevitability following national, European or Olympic success, and you can bet your bottom dollar that any rider leaving Yorkshire with a rainbow jersey will have their bike and kit given the rainbow treatment.
In celebration of Benjamin Thomas' French national time trial success, his Lapierre Aerostorm was resplendent in the iconic red, white and blue. Specialized had a number of national champions across Deceuninck-QuickStep and Bora-Hansgrohe, and gave each rider's Shiv TT a similarly themed national touch – with Remco Evenepoel's receiving a European theme to celebrate his European title in the discipline.
Commonly, riders will go to the effort themselves. the Netherlands' Dylan van Baarle, for example, was sporting a pair of custom painted Oakley Jawbreakers – complete with DVB initials.
When the rules relax
As reported by Cyclingnews, Rohan Dennis stormed to victory aboard a BMC Timemachine TT, opting against using his team-issue Merida Time Warp TT bike. Following the fall-out with his team during this year's Tour de France, the entirely permissible decision by Dennis and Cycling Australia still made headlines, yet he was far from the only rider on Wednesday's start list to break the moral code.
Great Britain's Alex Dowsett, while riding aboard a team-issue Canyon Speedmax, forewent the Oakley helmet and Sidi shoes that his Katusha-Alpecin bosses would have liked.
Van Baarle was another, opting to use a front wheel from Princeton CarbonWorks, rather than the Shimano or Lightweight options provided by Team Ineos.
When it comes to time trialling, watts/CdA is the all-important number: a higher average power in relation to a rider's CdA (or drag coefficient x area), will ultimately result in a faster average speed. Therefore, it's no surprise that aerodynamics is at the forefront of consideration for riders and national federations alike.
For some, that means smoothing airflow with aero overshoes; for others, it's about removing drag with custom-moulded TT extensions. For Germany's Nils Politt, however, it meant quite literally taping over the cracks in a bid to remove the disturbed airflow caused by his race transponder.
Remco Evenepoel and Victor Campanaerts took their quest a step further, however. Both were seen using Red Bull as a carbohydrate mouth rinse ahead of the start in Northallerton. The theory behind this suggests receptors in the mouth fool the body into expecting more carbohydrates, which in turn pushes the body to utilise more of its stores than it otherwise would. While most beneficial at the point of carb-depletion or during fasted training, it certainly won't have done anything to harm the performances of the two Belgians, who finished second and 11th, respectively.
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