Cockpit Tech Secrets of the 2017 Tour de France
The coolest bar, stem, seatpost, and saddle tech secrets found on this year’s Tour bikes. – By Matt Phillips
The new Specialized Tarmac uses a proprietary D-shaped seatpost (the previous-generation SL5 Tarmac used a round 27.2mm post). Specialized representatives claim the post plays an important role in the new Tarmac’s feel, and it just might. However, the proprietary post also means riders can’t just grab an off-the-shelf post to address fitting needs. Specialized has at least partially addressed potential fitting issues by making a zero-offset post (the stock Tarmac post has 20mm of offset), seen here on Dan Martain’s (Quick Step Floors) bike.
One of the more memorable images from the 2016 Tour de France was that of Chris Froome briefly riding a borrowed Mavic Neutral Support bike up Mont Ventoux with a painfully obvious too-low saddle. (His race bike was damaged, and the Team Sky car with his backup bike was caught up in traffic). To try and minimise the chance of a similar situation (and photos) arising, the bikes on Mavic’s Neutral Support cars are now equipped with KS dropper posts that allow a rider to adjust saddle height on the fly by up to 65mm.
AG2R’s Romain Bardet has one of the more unique bar positions in the peloton. Traditionally, the tips of the bar’s drops are level, or rolled forward (counterclockwise when viewed from the drive side of the bike). Bardet, though, prefers his bar rolled slightly rearward (clockwise when viewed from the drive side of the bike).
Bardet’s position would seem to put a rider’s wrists in an awkward position when his hands are in the drops. But when you’re as fast as Bardet, who’s going to argue? He’s also not the only rider to position his bars this way: Wanty Groupe Gobert’s Yoann Offredo has his bars positioned similarly.
A 150mm by minus-17 degree stem—slammed, no less—is about as pro as it gets.
Team Dimension Data’s time trial bikes use Enve’s SES TT Aerobar combo. A cover over the stem partially hides brake and derailleur lines, and makes the front end sleeker, and potentially more aerodynamic.
BMC representatives would not answer our questions regarding this modification made to Danilo Wyss bike. The only hint provided was that it would only come into play if something went “really wrong” in the race. Danilo Wyss is 5’9”, the second shortest rider on the BMC’s Tour squad. The shortest? BMC’s team leader Richie Porte, who stands 5’8”.
So here’s our theory: The collar on Wyss’s seat post is set at Porte’s saddle height. Should something go awry with Porte’s bike during the race, and BMC’s team cars aren’t available to give Porte a spare bike, Wyss will hand off his bike to Porte. Porte grabs Wyss’s bike, flips the lever, pushes the post down to the collar, tightens the lever to secure the post, and rides off.
Some of Team Sky’s Il Bolide TT bikes feature a menacing one-piece handlebar assembly. The bar looks similar to the 3D-printed titanium handlebar Pinarello commissioned for Bradley Wiggins’s hour record bike.
Some of Team Sky’s bikes were equipped with a new K-Edge Garmin mount that cleanly mounts to the Team’s PRO Vibe stems.
Though more commonly found on TT bikes, some riders add grippy materials to their road saddles, too. The additional grip can help keep a rider locked into place when going “full gas.” Shown is Team Katusha Alpecin Tony Martin’s saddle.
This is the first Tour de France for Wanty Group Gobert, and the team is participating with a squad made up entirely of first-time Tour participants. The riders are easy to spot in the peloton, thanks to the bright, peachy-vermillion stem, bar, and tape on their Cube bikes.
Italian National Champion Fabio Aru’s Prologo saddle is accessorised with this tricolore saddle accent.
Faustino Muñoz Cambron has been Alberto Contador’s (Trek Segafredo) personal mechanic since 2003. One of the ways you can always pick out Contador’s bike is Muñoz’s signature bar wrap. Munoz wraps Contador’s bar tops-to-drops (opposite of the way bars are usually wrapped), and heavily overlaps the tape (for more cushion). While some mechanics consider wrapping this direction improper, there’s no doubt it looks incredibly clean.
As always, the handlebars of the Tour’s TT bikes are covered in acres of grip tape.