The Rapha Condor JLT team will be launched today, along with a working prototype of the Condor steel frameset some of the riders are using before it goes into production.
The team mainly use the London frame-builders' sleek carbon Leggero, but some, such as James McCallum, ride the stainless steel equivalent, the Super Acciaio. This replicates many of the features in the carbon Leggero, such as a tapered head tube and oversized bottom bracket.
Condor confirmed to BikeRadar that they have begun working with tubing supplier Columbus on a lighter version of the Super Acciaio – available to buy in 2014. Rider feedback during the coming season will factor into the production model.
The team started experimenting with TIG welded steel frames in 2010, when Namibian rider Dan Craven used a prototype in criteriums and nocturnes. Last year, McCallum rode the Super Acciaio to the Scottish road race title and third place in the UCI-ranked Rutland-Melton Classic.
Rapha Condor JLT aren't the only UK team working on steel – Madison-Genesis will be riding the Reynolds 953 tubed Volare this year.
The UK domestic team, who turned their focus to fostering the next wave of young talent in 2012, have also swapped to Campagnolo groupsets and wheels, and the new partnership seems to be working well already, with Ed Clancy winning the Eddie Soens Memorial race earlier this month.
The Leggero is equipped with Campag for 2013
For more information on Condor frames see www.condorcycles.com.