Beautiful countryside… blah, blah, blah. Spectacular racing… blah, blah blah. What excited Gearheads most – and the visions that still appear in our dreams – were the sleek racing machines and the flashy equipment the pros were sporting during the three weeks of the Tour de France.
While it’s not uncommon that professional racers have access to equipment that’s not yet available to the public, much of what they use in the Tour is not only available, but accessible. For example, the bikes of Teams Orica GreenEdge, Omega Pharma-Quick-Step, Team Saxo-Tinkoff and Vacansoleil are all bikes that we carry at Higher Gear. Let’s take a closer look at those bikes.
Specialized S-Works Venge
Specialized riders – like Team Omega Pharma-Quick-Step, Team Saxo-Tinkoff and Astana – have both the S-Works Venge and S-Works Tarmac SL4 at their disposal.
The Venge is optimized for impressive performance off the front. Designed with input from Formula 1 engineers to be stiff and aerodynamic, the Venge gives riders an edge when they’re off the front.
Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4
Of Astana’s S-Works Tarmac SL4, Bicycling.com writes:
Astana is one of three Tour de France teams riding Specialized bikes, and chose a build different from that of Specialized’s other teams. While Omega Pharma–Quick-Step and Saxo-Tinkoff both choose to ride Zipp wheels, Astana has chosen Corima’s rolling stock for each of the past few seasons.
Astana also makes an unusual choice in equipping its bikes with Italian-made Campagnolo components. Typically, Tour teams ride the same components that you’ll find on that company’s bikes in shops, but Specialized does not offer any Campy-equipped models. This break from retail models may be explained by the nationality of the team’s top rider—Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali is Italian.
Saxo-Tinkoff’s S-Works Tarmac SL4 is built up slightly differently than Team Omega Pharma-Quick-Step’s. According to Bicycling.com:
While most teams use rear derailleurs with a short cage, the mechanics on Saxo-Tinkoff equip the team’s Specialized S-Works framesets with SRAM Red long-cage rear derailleurs for two reasons: First, because they allow them to install larger cassettes when the team hits the mountains. Second, the long cage also enables riders to stay in their large chainrings longer as they shift into easier rear cogs—without causing the chain to rub. It comes with a small weight penalty, but the team feels that the added functionality is worthwhile. Zipp wheels, stems, bars, and seatposts complete the team’s spec.
SCOTT Addict SL
Orica GreenEdge is riding the SCOTT Addict SL. Bicycling.com tells us this is a new, updated version of SCOTT’s Addict road bike—which has been on hiatus since the company released the Foil aero-road frame in 2011.
The company says that new version is both lighter and more aerodynamic than the original (though it’s still shy of the Foil when put against a headwind) over previous additions. Scott also thinned the seatstays to add comfort for the long days Orica-GreenEdge will face at the Tour. The team Addict is outfitted with next-generation, minimally badged Shimano C50 wheels, Continental Pro LTD tires and a PRO cockpit.
Bianchi Oltre XR2
Bicycling.com has this to say about Vacansoleil’s Bianchi Oltre XR2 :
Bianchi launched the new Oltre XR2 just before the Tour de France and it’s quickly become a popular choice with the riders of Vacansoleil-DCM for its stiffness. A tapered headtube adds rigidity to the front of the bike to improve handling, while an oversized BB386 bottom bracket shell lends stiffness to the drivetrain, improving power transfer. The frameset is also compatible with both mechanical and electronic components, in this case, Campagnolo’s Super Record EPS electronic shifters and derailleurs. FSA’s BB386 K-Force Light cranks complete the team’s build.
Specialized S-Works Shiv
Omega Pharma–Quick-Step’s weapon of choice for time trials is the Specialized S-Works Shiv.
According to Bicycling.com, the Shiv used in the WorldTour dates to 2009; a more recent update is not legal under UCI rules. Still, the old design holds up well, with an integrated stem that sits flat with the top tube, direct-mount brake calipers and internal routing for electronic or cable drivetrains. Omega runs SRAM drivetrains and Zipp wheels. Oh, and the Shiv’s age? With Specialized’s new in-house wind tunnel, expect a new bike before long.
Bianchi Pico Crono
Bianchi’s Carbon Pico Crono, according to Bicycling.com is among the last bikes in the WorldTour to use a conventional steerer tube and stem system. That results in a higher base handlebar height, but note that Vacansoleil riders don’t need as many spacers under the armrest pads. Vacansoleil has one of the more unusual sponsor arrangements in the sport; their drivetrains are Shimano, but FSA supplies brakes and cockpits, while Fast Forward provides wheels. Note that the Dura-Ace drivetrains on these bikes are 7900 (10-speed mechanical, not the new 11-speed 9000 series).
The bike has been a staple for the team, and the frame hasn’t changed much since it was launched in 2009. Even today, the integrated steering assembly, hidden back brakes and aerofoil tube shaping mean it has stood the test of time well.
While the squad use new Shimano Dura-Ace 11-speed on their road bikes, the TT frames are kitted in previous generation 10-speed Di2 technology – not that it did any harm today. The rear brake is conventional, upended and housed in a recess above the seatstays.
That covers the bikes of the Tour that are available at or through Higher Gear. Come back next week to check out: As Seen on TV – Gear of the Tour.
From the Specialized Evade aero road helmet to the Specialized S-Works Shoes, there is enough to make Gearheads’ heads spin!
- See more about the components and accessories that the professionals were sporting at the Tour in Part 2 of this series: As Seen on TV – Gear of the Tour.
- Learn more about the bike brands we carry at Higher Gear that you saw on the Tour: Specialized, SCOTT and Bianchi.
- Read Bicycling.com’s full article on the Road Bikes of the 2013 Tour de France.
- Read more about the Time Trial Bikes of the 2013 Tour de France from Bicycling.com.
- For fun, check out some of the Bike Bling, or the custom paint jobs, as spotted by Bicycling.com, on some of the pro’s bikes at the 2013 Tour de France.