With the 2015 Tour de France getting underway with a time trial in the Dutch city of Utrecht, stage one offered a first glimpse of the coolest cutting-edge TT gear on offer to the professionals.
There’s plenty of aero tech to wade through this year — there are more than 80 images in the gallery above — so here are a few trends to look out for as you flick through the images.
Either we're getting used to crazy TT bikes or teams seem to be leaning towards more uniform set-ups for the riders. Perhaps modern TT bikes have reached a level of front-end customisation that renders the bodged and forced fits of old redundant. Never fear though, there are still plenty of unique cockpits to see, including the one above from veteran Ivan Basso.
With a perfectly flat 13.8km to cover, there were plenty of almost comically large chainrings to see before stage one. 54 to 56t were surprisingly common, but Michał Kwiatkowski takes the prize for the biggest on show with the knee-grinding 58t ring seen above.
Getting a grip
The use of grip tape rather than traditional bar tape has become so ubiquitous in the peloton that those bikes still sporting cork looked oddly old fashioned. Keep an eye out for various tape configurations on base bars, extensions and – in the case of Tony Martin – saddles. It’s a good thing he gets free bib shorts.
Wiry woes and computer chaos
While front-end set-ups only seem to get slicker, not everyone’s worked out what to do with that pesky Di2 junction box. We’ve seen it tucked under stems, hiding in saddle cavities or just plonked anywhere in a lacklustre ‘that’ll do’ approach. Likewise, some head units are carefully mounted so as to be anonymous while the placement of others just lacks effort.
Transponders and cameras
With the advent of obligatory GPS transponders being affixed to riders’ bikes, we’ll bet that we’ll be seeing some kind of integration in the future. For now, it’s a case of sticking it where the wind doesn’t blow, with every bike we saw having the GPS unit attached to the back of the saddle. While teams might avoid a drag penalty there, the GoPro cameras being attached to at least one team member’s bike per day are sure to compromise days of expensive wind tunnel testing.
Flying the flag
Keep an eye out for the multi-coloured patriotism-inspired TT bikes of various national champions including this stars and stripes stunner for Andrew Talansky (who got to ride his on the 4th of July, no less). Bright as these bikes may be, none are as loud as Team MTN Qhubeka’s stock Cervelo P5s, which come in a blinding chrome and yellow paint job for this year's Tour.
Missing in action
There were a few bits of kit we were hoping to see at the start of the Tour that haven’t appeared. Top of the list was a TT version of SRAM’s electronic drivetrain, while there’s been no whisper of FSA’s battery-operated shifting. Orbea was the only brand with a new bike on show and it’s very similar in looks to the Ordu M10 the company launched last year. Orbea isn't yet commenting on what this new bike is.