By Andrew Hood
Lance Armstrong unveiled a new time trial bike this week at the Dauphiné Libéré that he hopes will catapult him to a seventh Tour de France crown. Following its track record of developing new technology in time for Armstrong’s annual summer Tour assault, Trek rolled out the new “TTX” time trial frame utilizing a cutting-edge software design program used to develop Ferrari racing cars and sail boats. “We turned six months of development into five weeks,” said Trek’s Scott Daubert, adding the project didn’t get the green light until right after the Tour de Georgia in April. “We delivered them a week ago today. It was literally still warm when we put them in the box.” Although the 2005 Tour could well be decided in the monster 55km final time trial in St. Etienne, Daubert insisted the new design comes out of the intuitive desire to be better and faster in what will be Armstrong’s Tour finale. “There was nothing wrong with the other design. It was more like, ‘let’s try this.’ So far it’s working pretty good,” he said. Daubert says the tubes are more “axel-shaped and symmetrical” than the previous incarnation of the time trial bike, all designed to give maximum aerodynamic advantage. Three frames are ready for use. Two that Armstrong and Yaroslav Popovych debuted at the Dauphiné this week and another for Giro d’Italia champion Paolo Savoldelli to race during the Tour. Daubert flew the frames to the team’s technical headquarters in Belgium. Once the components were assembled, a bike was personally delivered to Armstrong last week at his European base in Girona, Spain. “This race is the drop-dead date for (Johan) Bruyneel and the team to test new equipment if they want to use it at the Tour,” Daubert said. “It’s fast, stiff, looks great. The rider’s position is unchanged.” Armstrong tested the bike during a training ride in Girona, debuted it in competition in Sunday’s opening prologue, rode it again in a pre-stage warm-up on Wednesday and then during the hour-long race against the clock. In all, Daubert guesses the bike has seen three hours of touching asphalt. Armstrong didn’t get a chance to preview the Tour time trial course; that will come later. In the meantime, he’s set to tackle the fearsome Mont Ventoux one last time.