Tour de France tech: New aero kit at team time trial

Revamped BMC Timemachine TM01, Mavic wheels

BMC show off stealthy new Timemachine TM01

BMC took to the start line of the team time trial aboard a new Timemachine TM01 flagship aero bike. This revamped machine still wears a cutting-edge aesthetic but now has a far greater level of component integration, tweaked tube shapes, and easier fit adjustability than before.

As is the case with many of the latest dedicated time trial bikes, the TM01 is distinguished by its clean appearance. Aside from a few bits of wiring harness and very short sections of brake housing, there are no visible control lines anywhere on the bike. Everything is fed from the bars straight into the frame beneath a tidy cap behind the stem and the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 battery is tucked safely away in a pocket inside the seat tube. 

As on the original TT01, BMC retain the use of an external steerer tube but now the fork crown also houses an integrated brake caliper. Out back, a special set of mini V-brakes is neatly blended into the chainstays and effectively 'hidden' from the wind by a slight down tube extension. BMC also manage to carry over their trademark T-shaped top tube profile, but the rest of the frame is distinctly more angular, with a far less organic form than before – particularly where the dropped seatstays join with the seat tube. 

BMC tuck a set of mini V-brakes underneath the chainstays on their new Timemachine TM01

Running along the sides of the fork blades, external fork steerer, seat tube, telescoping seatpost and seatstays is a subtle rib just behind the leading edge. According to BMC, this 'tripwire' feature creates just a hint of turbulent air that then helps smooth airflow over the rest of the tube. Trailing edges, on the other hand, are slightly truncated.

BMC are also emphasizing the new bike's easier adjustability. Aside from a pair of custom-molded fully one-piece front ends built only for the team, bar position can be adjusted via several bolt-on stem stubs, which can also be flipped over for additional positions or spaced out and angled via interchangeable shims and wedges. 

To better accommodate the fit-divergent time trial and triathlon markets, the telescoping seatpost also offers four different offset positions. Other features include a BB30-compatible bottom bracket shell, built-in rotational stops on the top tube to prevent fork damage in a crash, and adjustable-length rear-entry dropouts. BMC chief technical officer Rolf Singenberger says production versions will be available beginning this September.

The modular stem on the redesigned BMC Timemachine TM01 allows for a wide range of bar positions with a single molded carbon fork structure

Mavic "CX01 Technology" minds the gap

Mavic-sponsored teams Garmin-Cervélo and Liquigas rocketed around Cholet with new 80mm-deep carbon tubular front wheels featuring a notably wide profile, carbon bodied hubs, bladed stainless steel spokes and – thank you! – externally accessible alloy nipples. Mavic were mum on the official name but taking a closer look at the blacked-out labels reveals that it'll be called the CXR 80 at its expected debut later this year at Eurobike.

Almost more intriguing than the wheel itself, however, was the 'CX-01' snap-on fairing that fills in the gap between the tire and rim bed. Mavic haven't offered up technical information on exactly how much of an aerodynamic advantage this may provide but we suspect it's rather modest. Regardless, it can't hurt, it seems relatively easy to install and also looks to be compatible with other tire makes and models.

Garmin-Cervélo and Liquigas-Cannondale team bikes were fitted with new 80mm-deep Mavic carbon tubular front wheels along with clever snap-on fairings

Lampre put new Wilier TwinFoil to the test at Le Tour

After a short stint on fairly generic aero bikes at last year's Tour de France – mechanics told us the old Cobb-designed frame ran into trouble with the UCI – Lampre gave their new UCI-approved Wilier TwinFoil aero machines a second major test at this year's Tour de France team time trial. One of the major distinguishing features of the new bike is the TT-specific TRP integrated mini-V rear brake.

This has been moved down below the chainstays behind the bottom bracket and its shape blends in nicely with the rest of the frame for smoother airflow. Relocating the brake also allowed for more dramatic seatstay shaping and like other companies that have made similar moves, Wilier push those stays further apart to supposedly minimize air turbulence created by the rear wheel.

The clever front derailleur tab on Lampre's new Wilier TwinFoil is adjustable for angle to better accommodate different chainring sizes and shapes

Shaping up front is fairly conventional, with deep fork blades and internally routed cables that enter on the sides of the aero-profile down tube. However, Wilier raise the top tube to better blend with the stem – a move Specialized made a while back on their old Transition. Other features include a telescoping aero carbon post with both an external clamp and internal wedge to secure it in place, sliding rear dropouts to tighten up the gap between the tire and seat tube, and a clever rotatable front derailleur mount to better accommodate bigger or non-round chainrings. 

Stunningly sleek front ends with integrated Di2 shift buttons for Sky's Pinarello Graal

Team Sky's Pinarello Graals arrived in Cholet with new carbon fiber and aluminum cockpit setups that took excellent advantage of the engineering flexibility afforded by Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 system. The fresh one-piece base carbon fiber bar and stem featured not only knifelike brake levers molded directly into the outer pods but also prototype Di2 shifter pods blended seamlessly into the rest of the structure with small, uncharacteristically rounded buttons – standard Shimano shifter pods were fitted to the extension ends. 

Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 shift buttons are perfectly integrated into the base bars on Sky's Pinarello Graals. For the record, Shimano deny any involvement

There's no word on whether these particular bits will be made available to the public, and Shimano representatives who happened to be on site denied any involvement in the project. Assuming that's truly the case, this may very well be a Sky team exclusive. Additional features with the new Sky Graal front ends include sculpted, stackable aluminum spacers for extension and pad height, telescoping extension mounts with collet-type clamps, at least six extension width positions, internal cable routing and adjustable stem length. 

FDJ debut fresh Lapierre aero machines

FDJ's new Lapierre Aerostorm bikes made their debut Tour de France appearance during the team time trial after first making the rounds at last year's trade shows. Certainly elements bear a resemblance to other machines: the tightly tucked and kinked chainstays (Scott Plasma), the rear brake caliper placement atop the chainstays and behind the bottom bracket shell (original Felt DA), and the raised top tube that presumably helps smooth out airflow off the back of the stem (Specialized Transition). 

The FDJ team used Lapierre's new Aerostream during Stage 2

Other design features are most definitely unique to Lapierre, however, including the peculiar laid-back seat tube with its replaceable, bolt-on – and bolt upright – integrated seatmast with a two-position head. In addition, the fork is built with front loading horizontal tips for user-tunable rake and handling, and Shimano Di2 users will find a handy compartment in the down tube for the battery.  

Specialized show off new TT3 aero helmet

Specialized-sponsored riders raced around Cholet using the company's latest TT3 aero helmet. As compared to the current TT2, the new model features a more rounded profile with fewer kinks to disrupt airflow, less angular earflaps, smaller rear vents, a lower rear cover, a bolt-on visor, and pluggable front vents for when reducing drag is of the utmost importance. 

Specialized's new TT3 aero helmet features a revised shape with pluggable front vents and an optional bolt-on visor

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