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By Lennard Zinn
First, a question:
I was wondering why the Saunier Duval team is allowed to wear their yellow outfits in the Tour. I thought that teams that had yellow in their colors had to change them for the Tour, as ONCE did in the past.
Here is the official answer from Virginie Geinoz, the press officer for Saunier Duval-Prodir: “The Tour asked us to make a new jersey with less yellow. Therefore, we have designed this special edition for the Tour with the shoulders in white.”
Ag2R on carbon clinchers
Team Ag2R is using unmarked Reynolds carbon clincher wheels (rather than Dura-Ace) in the flat road stages, although the hubs still bear the Reynolds etching.
Usually, riders eschew carbon braking surfaces in the rain, and I did not notice if Jaan Kirsipuu was using them in stage 6, when he was the first of the main bunch to crash in the turn where Christophe Mengin (with whom he had been in a breakaway for most of the stage) was already wadded up against the barricades.
Gerolsteiner aero’ bars
I wanted to give you a peek at the bar used in the team time trial by seven of the nine Gerolsteiner riders. It is a Walser design, but it resembles a 3T bar from long ago. The elbow pads are 30cm apart! Even more unique is that the extensions and the drops on those bars are one in the same; it is essentially a narrow, flat base bar with super-long, wavy, angled-in-and-down that has elbow cups at either end of the base bar. The brake/shift levers were mounted out at the ends of those wavy bars.
Lars Teutenberg, who works with the team, says the team theorizes that it makes the air pass by the group more easily, and makes it easier to brake, shift and control the bike.
Hold me . . .
One of the new innovations at the team time trial this year was to use 10 pretty teenage girls as start holders. They wore either pink or white T-shirts (alternately) that bore the legend, “I love the Tour de France.” Nine would hold the riders while one looked on. Once the team took off, they would all clap, and then one would rotate off, and the extra one would rotate in. Using smiling girls to cheer the riders on as they leave is a big improvement over stern male UCI officials in their blue shirts.
You may have been wondering about those disc wheels sporting a “PRO” logo surrounding, used by Shimano-sponsored teams like Euskaltel-Euskadi, Domina Vacanze, Gerolsteiner, T-Mobile, Rabobank, Credit Agricole and Francaise des Jeux. I cannot name the manufacturer of those particular wheels, and seems to be a number of disc variations bearing that logo, both flat and lenticular.
PRO is a component line of Shimano Europe that includes such things as wheels, seat posts, stems and handlebars. It is not imported into the United States, or, for that matter, into Switzerland or Great Britain, where the Shimano distributors there have blocked it because it competes with other lines they carry. Last year, PRO components were only available in Benelux (Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands), but now it is sold in the rest of Europe (except Switzerland and the UK).
Those teams who do not have their riders’ ears all wired for sound (specifically, the sound of a director shouting, “Allez, allez, allez!” or, “Venga, venga, venga!”) use loudspeakers mounted on the follow car’s roof to get their attention during the team time trial. Here’s how the AG2R team car gets its point across.
And finally, what would Tour riders do without their iPods? At least half of them warm up for time trials while hooked up to Apple’s miniature music-storage units. Uh, guys, you are downloading all those tunes legally, right?