Tour de France time trial tech gallery: weird and wonderful TT setups for the opening stage

Custom bars, big chainrings and new wheels

Colnago bikes on UAE Team Emirates car

While the road bikes of WorldTour riders don’t see the same degree of intricate customisation as times past, time trial bikes are another matter.

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When every split second counts, teams often give riders a little bit more leeway to find a faster setup, as well as anything that can help make holding an extreme time trial position more tolerable – even if it goes against official sponsorship arrangements.

With this year’s Tour de France beginning with a flat 13.2km time trial around the streets of Copenhagen, we toured the team hotels looking for the interesting and unusual bike setups.

As you’d expect, we saw lots of deep-section and aggressive aero wheels, some monster chainrings and plenty of highly-personalised contact points.

On top of the in-depth look at Filippo Ganna’s new Pinarello Bolide F which we published today, we’ll also be bringing you plenty of pro bike galleries throughout the Tour, so stay tuned for more coming soon.

For now, here’s our pick of the TT tech.

Prototype wheels and new fast tyres

While the wheels used on road stages of the Tour de France tend to be fairly predictable, time trials are when teams pull out the weird and wonderful stuff.

Aggressively aero-optimised wheels, with rims up to 100mm deep or low spoke count carbon wheels, are almost the new standard.

Luke Durbridge’s Giant Trinity Advanced SL was fitted with a Cadex four-spoke front wheel.
Simon von Bromley / Our Media

With many brands not making dedicated time trial wheels, teams often look to specialist, non-sponsor-correct options in order to remain competitive.

Full carbon rear disc wheels or ultra-deep front rims can, for example, often be seen with the branding removed, or sneakily replaced with sponsor-correct branding.

Ineos-Grenadiers had a prototype tri-spoke and full carbon rear disc wheel from its technical partner Princeton CarbonWorks.

The 7580 TS tri-spoke bucks the trend of a traditional tri-spoke carbon wheel by including Princeton’s signature wavy rim profile throughout.

The new – unbranded – Princeton CarbonWorks 7580 TS at the Ineos-Grenadiers team hotel.
George Scott / Our Media

Curiously, it also appears to have an aero-profiled hub cap on the non-driveside side of the axle – something the UCI has previously said is not allowed (AeroCoach was forced to hastily redesign the hub caps for its AEOX Titan wheel, in May 2021, after the UCI decided the stock aero-profiled ones fell foul of its technical regulations).

Of course, it’s also possible that Princeton has found a creative way to interpret the UCI’s technical regulations that makes this specific design perfectly legal. Time will tell.

Aero-optimised hub end caps such as this have fallen foul of the UCI’s technical regulations before, but perhaps things will be different this time…

We also spotted an as yet unreleased tubeless-ready tyre on the Princeton CarbonWorks wheels – a Continental GP5000 TT TDF.

While we don’t yet have any official details from Continental about this tyre, its name and appearance suggest it’s a time trial-specific version of the brand’s highly-rated GP5000 S TR.

The GP5000 TT TDF appears to be a new time trial-specific tyre from Continental.
George Scott / Our Media

At a glance, the tread and casing appear to be practically identical but it’s possible that Continental has removed the puncture protection belt from the tyre, which could help slightly lower the tyre’s weight and rolling resistance. (Update 2/7/22: Continental has now officially launched the Grand Prix 5000 S TT TdF).

Personalised cockpits

With the rider’s body accounting for around 80 per cent of total system drag (rider plus bike), having an aerodynamically optimised time trial position is essential for anyone who wants to be competitive.

While most riders previously used stock setups with basic armrests and round aero extensions, more and more riders are taking a custom or semi-custom approach (usually at considerable expense).