The first Grand Tour of the season is always a hotbed of tech. Sponsors are often keen to get their latest innovations into the race, putting their products to the test in the toughest environments to ensure they'll stand up to everyday use. Such a renowned race also comes with an enormous amount of publicity, so to capture some of that is always a bonus.
Teams are also keen to use cutting edge components to find the upper hand over their rivals. Most of the time, that happens in conjunction with the team's sponsors. However, as you will read below, it's occasionally the opposite, as teams shun sponsor obligation in the pursuit of free speed via other brands.
With the against-the-clock nature of time trialling, every second and every watt could be the difference between winning and losing. As a result, the scrutiny placed on equipment is magnified, and teams are often spotted using products that perhaps they shouldn't be.
Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo Visma shun Shimano wheels... again
Up front, both teams were using the Aeox Titan front wheel from Aerocoach. Out back, Jumbo Visma are using a disc wheel bearing the Shimano logo, however no further information is available, suggesting it could well be a new product from the Japanese brand. Meanwhile, Ineos Grenadiers are using the Blur 633 rear wheel from Princeton Carbonworks.
Eolo Kometa switch from Aurum bikes to Ribble
Aurum bikes, the brand borne out of a collaboration between Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso, was only launched in December of 2020. At launch, the brand unveiled just one bike, the Magma, and then in the weeks following, it announced it would be the bike sponsor to ProTeam Eolo Kometa, managed by Basso and Contador.
In the absence of a time trial bike in the brand's portfolio, the Italian team has been forced to source its own.
The model they've opted for is the Ultra TT from Ribble, which has been stripped of branding, painted matte black, and finished with a simple Eolo logo on the head tube.
Bahrain Victorious swap Nalini clothing for Alé
Bahrain Victorious have a new clothing sponsor for the Giro, swapping from Nalini clothing in favour of Alé.
The team surprisingly announced the swap on the eve of the Giro d'Italia but the team colours and kit designs remains the same red and black.
The Bahrain Victorious team kit is part of Alé's PR-S (Pro Race System) collection developed in collaboration with the Italian brand's other teams including Groupama-FDJ, Movistar and the women's Alé BTC Ljubljana teams.
EF Education-Nippo testing different oversized jockey wheels?
When the racing is against the clock, every available watt saving can be the difference between winning and losing, so it's not uncommon to see oversized jockey wheels attached to the rear derailleur on a time trial bike. These systems are well known to improve drivetrain efficiency, with market leader CeramicSpeed's OSPW (Over-Sized Pulley Wheel) claimed to be worth 'from 2.4 watts'.
Many of EF Education-Nippo's riders were seen running that CeramicSpeed system, however for an unknown reason, Tejay van Garderen's bike was fitted with Muc-Off's LOPS (Lightweight Oversized Precision Shifting) system, which was first seen on Mikel Landa's bike during the stage 21 time trial of the 2020 Tour de France.
Treated chains reign supreme
In the pursuit of maximum efficiency, waxed chains are typically hard to beat, and as a result there are countless brands on the market offering treated chains specifically for race days. These chains aren't uncommon in the big-budget scene of WorldTour racing, but they become extra-common when racing goes against the clock.
They're not always easy to spot, but the white powder seen here on Remi Cavagna's chain is a clear indication of such a race-day treatment, which in this instance comes courtesy of the UFO treatment from CeramicSpeed.
Ineos Grenadiers' rule-bending base layers
Back in 2019, the UCI implemented a ban on skinsuits that "modify the morphology of the rider" which enforced that "surface roughness modifications shall be limited to a profile difference of 1mm at most". Essentially, this meant that the use of trip-strips was banned.
The purpose of these protruding strips of extra material was to guide the airflow past the rider and supposedly reduce drag, thus increasing speed.
To get around this ban, Ineos Grenadiers look to be wearing base layers with similar trip strips, which when worn with the skin-tight aero TT speedsuits, achieves the same result.
There are no rules against trip strips on base layers, so until the UCI cottons on to the ploy, it remains perfectly legal.
Bonus find: Dowsett's £600 overshoes
Alex Dowsett has long been keen on optimising his equipment and maximising the performance of his setup. An example of this was covered by Cyclingnews at the World Championships in Imola when the Briton switched his team-issue Factor Slick for a Specialized Shiv, and paired it with a host of other watt-saving products including the radical-looking POC Tempor helmet.
The latest upgrade to the British time trial champion's kit list comes in the form of his overshoes. Dowsett was understandably unwilling to confirm his non-sponsor-correct choice, but the eagle-eyed tech team here at Cyclingnews believe they are the very expensive, very fancy, custom overshoes from British brand, Vorteq, which will set you back a cool £600.00.
In addition, an amusing side effect of Dowsett having custom overshoes in his kitbag was that he seemingly loaned his other pair to teammate Alessandro De Marchi. This would typically be impossible to spot, were it not for their custom British-champ colourway.
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