Race tech: Radioshack, Sky, Française des Jeux bikes

What the pros are riding this year

Team Radioshack's Trek Madone 6.9

Though Trek recently introduced a new, lighter-weight 'SSL' variant of its top-end Madone 6 Series road bike, Team Radioshack is still using the standard version at this year's Tour de France – which makes sense considering the team already often has to add weights to hit the UCI-mandated 6.8kg minimum anyway.

Even without the additional 100g weight savings, Radioshack's Madone frames are still plenty light at around 950g and are stacked with modern design features, including a tapered and asymmetrical 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" carbon steerer (that's now been slightly beefed up with additional carbon plies), an ultra-wide BB90 bottom bracket shell with direct press-fit bearings, a no-cut integrated seatmast, and clever internal cable routing, not to mention the confident and stable handling that has already carried it to multiple Tour de France overall victories.

Team bikes are outfitted with SRAM Red groups though there's obviously some leeway afforded to the riders in certain areas.  Some opt for power meters while other go without; some use the standard chainrings while others prefer the stiffer time trial-specific solid outer ring; and others even go with O.symetric's wild harmonic chainrings instead (with blacked-out labels, of course). 

Likewise, some of the team go for SRAM's steel cage option on the front derailleur while others – including team leader Lance Armstrong – stick with the standard titanium one. 

Some RadioShack riders are on O.symetric chainrings

Not surprisingly, much of the rest of the equipment comes from Trek subsidiary Bontrager, including bars, stems, some of the riders' saddles, and a variety of carbon and alloy wheels, with the exception of rear discs which look to come from Carbonsports.

Ensuring consistent foul weather performance are Gore Ride-On sealed cable systems throughout, tyres come from Hutchinson, and all Radioshack riders are on Look KéO pedals of one variety or another in case bikes need to be swapped during a critical moment. 

Even the added weights used by the team are rather clever, comprising a series of steel wedges that are inserted and secured inside the hollow crank spindle – much like an old quill stem.  Wedges can easily be added or removed as needed, the weight is situated in the lowest possible location and it contributes almost no rotational inertia. 

Save for riders on the non-round chainrings, it's also worth noting that none of the team bikes are outfitted with chain watchers.

Finishing things off are Trek Bat bottle cages, which are inexpensive but light and surprisingly stout, and Bontrager Node computers with wireless speed and cadence sensors neatly integrated into the non-driveside chain stays.

Stealth black-and-blue Pinarello Dogmas for Team Sky

Sky's Pinarello Dogma

Team Sky riders made it to Paris aboard the same Pinarello Dogma frames used by Caisse d'Epargne, though with much more subdued black and blue paint jobs.  Hidden beneath the stark skin, though, are the same design features of the Spanish squad's brighter rigs.

Rather than simply go with an asymmetrical seat tube and chain stays like most manufacturers, Pinarello contends that the entirely of the bicycle frame is subject to uneven forces so the Dogma is designed as such virtually from head to toe – even including the top tube, fork blades, and seat stays.

Sky builds its Pinarello frames with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic groups throughout but hopped up with ceramic bearings from UK company Ultimate Ceramic Bearings.  Di2 control wires are routed internally through the dedicated frames and many riders also opting for the top-mounted satellite rear shifter, too. 

Shimano Di2 isstandard

Like Radioshack, French O.symetric chainrings make an appearance here as well though in much greater numbers – Sky riders are split roughly 50-50 with only about half using the standard ultra-stiff Dura-Ace rings.

Bars and stems come from Deda, bottle cages are from Elite, and saddles are supplied by Prologo, including prototype perches for several riders such as Bradley Wiggins and Juan Antonio Flecha.  Where applicable, some riders run with SRM's latest PowerControl 7 computer while others simply go without.  Shimano also outfits the team with its latest carbon-bodied Dura-Ace clipless pedals.

Shimano supplies many of the team's wheels as well though Sky apparently have some wiggle room in this department as we also spotted several unlabeled carbon rims that look to come from HED, all laced to Shimano hubs. Tyres are from Veloflex across the board, though.

Lapierre Xelius carbon racers for Française des Jeux

Française des Jeux riders are on Lapierre Xelius frames

Française des Jeux has chosen to keep its frame supplier 'within the family' so to speak with Lapierre's Xelius flagship carbon road racers. The frames are said to weigh less than 900g yet they boast a tapered front end with a genuine Easton fork, press-fit bottom bracket cups, aluminium-faced carbon dropouts, an integrated seatmast, and internal cable routing throughout. 

Shimano provides the lion's share of the build kit, including a complete Dura-Ace Di2 electronic groups, carbon wheels of various depths, and the company's latest carbon-bodied pedals.  Componentry arm PRO gets into the game, too, covering the team's bars, stems, seatmast heads, and computers.

Wrapping things up are fi'zi:k saddles, Elite bottle cages, and Hutchinson tyres.

A novel solution for keeping the telemetry box attached to the saddle

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