Race tech: Giro d'Italia road bikes

A diverse mix of gear for a rainy Grand Tour start

Aerodynamic bikes may be all the rage in the road bike market these days but you'd hardly know it by looking at the bikes used by riders starting stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia. Of the 22 teams on hand, only about half a dozen were primarily on aero rigs while another two or three fielded a mixed group. Nearly everyone else were on nominally round-tubed machines.

Several factors seemed to play a role in this decision. Many teams here are sponsored by companies that don't yet make an aero model, plus the second half of the route along the coastal edge of Northern Ireland was expected to include some potentially wicked crosswinds (that never really materialized) where deep-profile tubes could have proved tough to handle. Monday's logistically complicated transfer to southern Italy also had some teams bringing a somewhat abbreviated range of equipment for the first few days of the race.

Lotto-Belisol strongman Adam Hansen went with a non-aero Ridley Helium while many of his teammates went with the theoretically speedier Noah FAST

Even squads with easy access to aero bikes didn't use them, such as Astana, BMC, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and Tinkoff-Saxo. Mind you, three of those are sponsored by Specialized, who recently launched a new Tarmac model and may have wanted a little more attention paid that way.

Most teams certainly still opted for aero wheels, though, but section depths mostly hovered at a modest 30-50mm or so. We noticed plenty of 25mm-wide tubular tires, too, even from teams that don't have a wide-profile rim to match. Even stage winner Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) used 25mm-wide Vittoria tubulars on his Giant Propel Advanced machine.

Marcel kittel (giant-shimano) is hoping for a few more stage wins aboard his trusty giant propel advanced:

Stage winner Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) went full aero

Aerodynamic drawbacks or not to the mismatch, it seems that more than a few racers may have been prompted by the perpetually threatening weather to go the conservative route in terms of grip.

James Huang

Technical Editor, US
James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA

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