By Zack Vestal
If the roster for this year’s Tour of California is being hailed as possibly the best ever assembled on North American soil, can the same be said of the menagerie of bikes? Without a doubt, a few hours of wandering the pits before and during the prologue turned up some exotic and attractive machinery. Here are a few highlights from the prologue, the likes of which have probably never been seen before in Sacramento.
Basso’s Cannondale Slice
Ivan Basso’s Liquigas Cannondale Slice was fitted with an SRM crankset and FSA chainrings. I was told that he plans to use the SRM for the duration of the race in an effort to gather power data for training purposes. He was using Vision aerobars, with nothing more than friction tape on the extensions for grip.
Basso was using Mavic’s track-specific 5-spoke carbon front wheel. In order to help the rear brake overcome cable friction through the convoluted housing of a dual-brake lever setup, a spring was fitted to the rear caliper between the cable fixing point and the housing stop.
The BMC TT01 is not entirely new to the world of cycling, but it was probably the most exotic bike I saw. Alexander Moos’s machine features a hinge-style integrated fork and stem.
The “stem” portion of the frame includes a large circular clamp that permits some limited adjustment of the aerobar position by means of either rotating the entire clamp, or reversing the position of the four separate clamp pieces. A huge carbon crankset, with bearings integrated into the frame and chainrings molded into the driveside crankarm, looks incredibly sleek (and correspondingly expensive). If a new chainring is required, the entire drive side crankarm must be exchanged. DT decals covered Zipp 808 front wheels and 900 series disc wheels.
Hincapie’s Scott road bike
George Hincapie’s road bike is fitted with Di2 Dura-Ace 7970 shifters and derailleurs. Speaking to the lead mechanic, Nick Vandecauter, I learned that Hincapie has been on the groupset for about two weeks. He said there have been no problems with battery life or weather conditions, despite frequent rain for the last week in California.
He also mentioned that after a few days, Hincapie had adapted well to the shifters and was feeling comfortable. None of the time trial bikes were fitted with Di2, as the shifters are not available yet.
The Fly V Australia team received Parlee time trial bikes in the days before the race. They feature a proprietary seatpost, hidden rear brake caliper, and a simple clear on carbon finish. The bikes I saw had a mix of Red, Force, and Rival drivetrains from SRAM, and provided some evidence of the challenge to a smaller team by such an early race. In fact several team mechanics have commented that their component supply has not been completely filled for the year.