In the pits at the Giro d'Italia, BikeRadar's technical editor James Huang noticed some personal touches, unusual speccing choices and new equipment.
Ceramics for Sastre
Ceramic bearings are nothing new in the pro ranks but the ones on the bike of Cervélo Test Team captain Carlos Sastre were notably easier to spot, what with their distinct blue anodised finish. Sastre has apparently chosen Enduro as his bearing supplier, including their top-end ZERØ bottom bracket and rear derailleur pulleys.
Enduro build their ZERØ cartridges with Grade 3 silicon nitride balls and cryogenically treated chromium steel races said to be harder and more durable than stainless. To reduce friction even further, the bottom bracket foregoes supplemental contact seals in favour of aluminium labyrinth-type plates.
Like the rest of the team, Sastre is back on Rotor cranks with the development of their latest 3D model. Sastre's crankarms are personalised with special etching and some pink detailing, including the letters 'PCY' – the first initials of his wife Piedi and his children, Claudia and Yeday.
It's a good thing Garmin-Slipstream riders Dave Zabriskie and Bradley Wiggins don't have to foot the bill for their handlebar tape as both seem to use quite a lot of it. According to team mechanic Tom Hopper, both riders prefer their bars to have more girth beneath their hands and as such, he has to use multiple layers of tape in combination with Fizik bar:gel padding to get the feel where Wiggins and Zabriskie like it.
Wiggins' Felt F1 is further customised with a pair of French O.symetric chainrings. Like the Rotor Q-Rings on the Cervélo Test Team bikes, the O.symetric rings operate on the premise of maximising forward motion when your muscles produce the most power while speeding the rider's legs through the dead spots.
The O.symetric rings use a far more radical shape, are rather thin and wholly lacking in shift ramps and pins, and thus require a few modifications for proper shifting. Wiggins' Shimano Dura-Ace front derailleur is spaced back a few millimetres with a custom aluminium block and a new K-Edge chain watcher from AceCo is on hand to pick up the pieces.
Time trial specialist David Millar got his own personalised touch – on his feet, not his bike. Specialized supplied the former UK national champion with a custom pair of S-Works shoes, complete with a British bull's eye printed on the heel.
No oversized bars for Fuji-Servetto
Oversized 31.8mm-diameter handlebars and stems are standard in the commercial marketplace but Fuji-Servetto's Fuji SL-1 team bikes were fitted with the 26.0mm size instead. This wasn't due to limited availability from supplier Oval Concepts, though, but rather choice according to company owner and founder Morgan Nicol.
Nicol says that while Oval Concepts continue to offer all of their bars and stems in both diameters, all of his sponsored teams have opted for the smaller size, saying they're well proven to be both strong and stiff enough for professional racing. More important to the teams, says Nicol, is the smaller size's lighter weight and reduced frontal area.
"The difference is fashion vs. performance," he said. "Oval Concepts make all of our bars available in 31.8 and 26.0 – the market demands it, so we do it. For mountain bikes it makes some sense and it looks good – going 25kmh. For road bikes it is a bad idea [and] for TT/triathlon bikes it is really ridiculous."