Bike tech @ Tour de France 2005
Hooray for Michael Rasmussen for being the king of the mountains and riding in the polka-dot jersey. Ironic, since Denmark is actually flatter than even the Netherlands, the highest point being Yding Skovhøj at 173 m (568′). Hardly a mountain.
Rasmussen is called the Chicken from Tølløse—a small town north of Copenhagen—not something pretentious as the Eagle from Herning (Bjarne Riis' nickname). Before he won the polka-dot jersey on stage 9 he said to journalists that “… I think I'll ride ahead today.”, and so he did after just 3 km. It takes a lot of guts to do something like that, a lot of talent and training to finish it like he did.
Read all the news at leTour.fr, BBC Sport and tour.tv2.dk (the latter in Danish only), they're better at sports journalism than I am. What they're not so good at is covering all the wonderful bike technology at the tour.
Don't worry, I'll do it.
The SRM cranks are everywhere, and if the stars—and their domestiques—don't race them, rest assured that they train on them, they're the greatest technological training aid you can get. You're supposed to be able to see live telemetric data from some riders' SRM cranks, but it only works on Windows and they flatlined today, probably because there's no GPRS coverage in the mountains. There's another page with Jens Voigts power output, but I haven't seen it working yet.
The Team CSC bikes from Cervélo are by far the nicest in the peloton, the brand spanking new Soloist Carbon—on sale from September—is the sweetest road-racing bike there is, light as the R2.5 workhorse and nearly as aerodynamic as the P3 Carbon time trial frame. Add a pair of Zipp wheels, FSA components, Dura-Ace gears and brakes and you have the bikes in this years tour that I most lust for. The CSC riders call them “porno bikes.”
It is interesting to see Bobby Julich use the O.Symetric oval chainrings for both time trials and normal races. They're more extreme in the shape than the old Shimano Biopace chainrings, yet it doesn't seem to bother Bobby pedaling at the normal 90+ RPM, which is supposed to be uncomfortable on oval chainrings. I'm intrigued, but at 200 € for a 42–52T set they're a little too expensive for now. One must also wonder how the front-derailleur performs on them … I have to try them out sometime.
For some reason the widespread use of the Lightweight Spoked Wheels among the stars has stopped, I don't know why. They're still the lightest you can get at 1035 g for a 16/20 spoke pair in standard 700C size, stiff and strong too. The closest competitors are about 100 g heavier. Maybe the Lightweight wheels became too recognized and the wheel sponsors now force the riders to ride their wheels, or the gap between the Lightweight wheels and the other top manufacturers of wheels became small enough that the riders no longer want to invest their own money in the more expensive Lightweight wheels.