The Tour de France began in Germany for the first time since 1987 when the race started in West Berlin before the fall of the wall. In 2017, Düsseldorf welcomed 198 riders to the 104th edition of the Grand Tour, and Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas won the rainy opening stage to become the eighth Briton to wear the Maillot Jaune.
- Tour de France bikes, gear and tech
- Spotted: Giant Propel Disc prototype at the Tour de France
- Tour de France gallery: Mechanics' prologue
The flat, 14km course ensured an array of larger-than-normal chainrings; we couldn’t spot anything smaller than a 54t. Defending Tour Chris Froome ran his usual elliptical chainrings in a 58/46T combination.
Team Sky had what is rumoured to be a 3D printed titanium cockpit. A team official declined to immediately comment on the bars. The previously unseen integrated setup seemed to be constructed from an alloy, featured integrated shifting buttons on the inside of the bars. We saw bars with solid and ‘skeleton’ silver brake levers. Stage-winner Thomas’ cockpit was branded with MOST decals, Pinarello’s component wing.
As has become commonplace in a World Tour time trial, several riders opt for non-sponsor wheels. Whilst some individuals use specific wheels by choice, others are forced to as their usual wheel partners may not produce monocoque front or rear wheels.
Trek-Segafredo leader and two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador chose to run a Lightweight Autobahn rear wheel with a PRO 3-spoke Textreme front wheel as opposed to the offerings from Bontrager. A few Direct-Energie riders also followed Contador’s Lightweight Autobahn trend, whilst the entire Orica-Scott team were also equipped with the German carbon specialists’ range-topping wheel.
HED wheels were also popular in the peloton and featured a heavy presence in both Team Dimension Data and Lotto-Soudal.
French Pro Continental outfit Wanty-Groupe Gobert appeared to be racing on a new model Cube Aerium C-68. Usually in an eye-catching fluoro blue colour scheme, the new models were clear lacquered on a distinctive carbon layup.
Cube registered a new version of the Aerium with the UCI in May of this year.
Tony Martin of Katusha-Alpecin is both the German and world time trial champion and was a clear favourite ahead of the stage. For the occasion, Canyon presented the German time trial specialist with a special edition Kraftwerk themed Canyon Speedmax CF SLX.
The German finished the stage fourth.
Click or swipe through the gallery above for a detailed look at the bikes, wheels and components on show.