Cycle sport's top teams are already battling it out in the first ProTour race of the season so let's take a look at what they will be riding this year. The 2010 season sees two big new teams on the block in the shape of RadioShack and Team Sky and the usual merry go round of riders and changes to sponsors and equipment suppliers.
In terms of the big component manufacturers it's pretty evenly split between SRAM, Shimano, and Campagnolo. SRAM has six teams signed up including the three teams most likely to be the heaviest hitters in the grand tours: Astana, Saxo Bank and RadioShack. Shimano have three headline grabbers too in the shape of Garmin, HTC Columbia and Sky, while Campagnolo have a solid base of support in teams from cycling's heartlands in Belgium, Spain and, as you'd expect, Italy. This is going to be a big year for Shimano Di2 – they tell us that 80 per cent of their sponsored riders will be '"riding with Di2 technology this year. All riders of team SKY, Skil-Shimano and Euskaltel are riding with Di2."
Campag and Shimano have tied up a number of their sponsored teams to groupset and wheel packages, but of the wheel companies Mavic grab the lions share, followed by Zipp, but there are also teams running other wheels too: Quickstep are on FFWD, Milram on Lightweight and Footon Servetto Fuji on Cole. Expect the Zipp 404 to be the wheel of choice for many teams but there will also be plenty of mixing and matching going on. Mavic teams will run the Cosmic Carbone, although a special 'team' version, expect to see the R-Sys too - Ivan Basso used rode them to good effect in last year's Giro.
Kuota, SRAM, Reynolds, Michelin
Kuota will supply AG2R with their KOM model, which Kuota tell us is a "... monocoque construction with differentiated lamination, carbon fiber 600GPa UHM enriched with nano tubes, high resistance covering fiber 3K4H, BB30 to reach a better stiffness and reduce weight, head tube 1.1/8-1.1/4 for a better control to optimize the torsional stiffness... " Try putting that on the top tube!
For the TT's the team will ride the Kuota KUEEN-K which has " ... been developed for chrono competitions. Its specific geometries and aerodynamic design offer the highest performance and efficiency during high speed races". Drivetrain and brakes by SRAM, wheels by Reynolds and rubber by Michelin make up the rest of the AG2R spec.
Specialized Tarmac SL 3, Sram, Zipp wheels
For the last two years Alberto Contador and his team mates have ridden Trek Madones, but times have changed at Astana and this year they are one of two teams to be riding Specialized's S Works Tarmac SL3. While it may not have the Tour pedigree of the Madone the Tarmac is a classy piece of kit ridden to good effect last season by the Schleck brothers and Fabian Cancellara. One thing that isn't changing about the Astana bikes is that they will still be running SRAM Red.
We also get the intriguing prospect of both Cancellara and Contador riding the same time trial bike with same groupset and the same wheel suppliers which should mean the technology will cancel itself out in their time trial tussles and it really will come down to a pure test of rider ability.
Fun fact: Astana are obviously saving all their fast moves for the road. because they haven't had time to update their website, er at all. In the online world at least Johan Bruyneel is still in charge.
Pinarello Dogma, Campagnolo wheels + groupset, Continental tyres
A classical mix for Alejandro Valverde and company for 2010 – with a full Italian bike, wheels and groupset combo topped off with German rubber. Valverde started riding the 2010 Dogma 60.1 – that last bit refers to the Toryaca carbon used in its construction – last season; and unless you've been living in a cave for the last few months you will already know that Pinarello are claiming this as the first production road bike to use assymetric tube profiles for aerodynamic advantage…as opposed to all those bikes that just had them cos they looked nice or someone made a mistake with the mould. Only joking. As we probably reported from Eurobike, Pinarello claim that the Dogma's 60HM1K carbon Torayca carbon makes it 23 per cent more impact resistant than the latest incarnation of their Prince model. That must have been a fun test.
Orbea Orca TRC CT, Shimano, Vittoria
Basque team on Basque bikes – you wouldn't expect anything else. Lucky buggers too, because the latest Orca is an awesome piece of kit that has proved a very influential design since it replaced the orginal Orca in 2006. Intended as a light, stiff all rounder, it is certainly light with a an easily achieveable build up weight of around 6.5Kg. As last year Shimano supply groupsets and wheels, this could be an interesting relationship given Shimano's recent reiteration of its anti-doping stance and the likely consequences of doping infractions by riders on Shimano supported teams. That laying down of the law was a direct result of Euskaltel's er, difficulties in that department last summer when Mikel Astarloza tested positive for EPO a week after the end of the Tour de France. Euskaltel continued to back their man even after his B sample proved positive too which can't have gone down well with their main equipment supplier.
Fuji SST 1.0, SRAM, Cole wheels, Challenge tyres
Nice to see a team doing things a little differently – well, apart from that ludicrous kit, they are going to need to go fast to live that down. As you'd expect given that Fuji are still a sponsor, if no longer the title one, the team are riding Fuji bikes. The SST 1.0 is Fuji's take on the aero road bike featuring an aero integrated seat post, oversized head tube, internal cable routing and the like – all put together in the high end carbon fibre giving a 985g claimed weight for the frameset. Groupset is SRAM red which has rapidly established itself as a favourite in the peloton – winning the Tour de France will do that for you.
Footon Servetto's wheel and tyre choices though are a tad less mainstream though. Cole Wheels are a German company producing some very nice looking wheels indeed. The big deal with their wheels is the hubs which feature Cole's patent pending Dynamic Spoke Alignment system – which uses a double threaded spoke, standard rim nipple, and a 6mm cylindrical movable alloy nipple to do away with the standard j bend spoke. Cole reckon this makes for a stronger wheel that can be run at a higher tension. We saw it at Eurobike, looked interesting – didn't hear of any Fuji team wheels exploding last year… okay we weren't especially listening out either. Tyres are hand made tubulars – Challenge are an Italian company these days, but once they were French and called Clement, so a bit of racing pedigree there then.
Interesting web fact: You can take acting like winners too far – like Astana still running last year's website – with last year's team name too.
Lapierre Xelius, Shimano
Teams sponsored by banks obviously don't feel the need to flaunt the names of their equipment sponsors – you'd get more joy asking for an over-draft extension. That said, French bank, French team very classy and achingly beautiful French bike. We reviewed the Xelius 900 a few months back and Christophe Le Mevel and his team mates are very lucky boys. On Lapierre's website the FDJ replica bike is the Xelius 400 – top build on this bike is with Shimano Ultegra.
Actually what they will be riding is much closer to that 900 we reviewed. Indeed, taking things a step further FDJ also ride a Xelius with an integrated seat mast – available by special order only through Lapierre's Web Series program which lets you put together the same bike as the team, or a variation on it. Most of Shimano's supported teams seem to be running with Di2 for 2010 with frames tweaked to take it. It shouldn't be a problem to fit to the Xelius but it might spoil the lines a bit.
Felt AR1, Shimano Di2, Mavic wheels, Vittoria tyres
The AR1 was probably the new bike that impressed us most at Eurobike last year – mind you we'd already seen a lot of the other 'new' models on display – the new Madone had already won the Tour de France. Again this is a machine that is built on aero road bike lines. Jim Felt is a firm believer in fettling his bikes in the wind tunnel and this has the pared down look of many of his company's designs. As we've also said in relation to time trial bikes in the past – the laws of aerodynamics and physics being immutable it should be no surprise that bikes aiming to be aero start to look somewhat similar. Top marks to the AR1 for managing to look distinctive (something that is no doubt aided in the peloton by an application of Garmin Argyle), that said it also has echoes of the Trek Madone, the Orbea Orca, and the Specialized Tarmac. It's clean lines are helped by internal cable routing which is optimised to take Shimano Di2… lucky that.
Eddy Merckx EMX-5, FFWD wheels, Campagnolo, Continental tyres
Like Team Katusha Quickstep go for the Belgian mix as it were, Belgian bike, Campag drivetrain. Quickstep though back that up with Dutch FFWD wheels and Continental tyres. The switch to Merckx is new for this season and is down to the ripple effect amongst bike suppliers brought about by the creation of the RadioShack team and Trek's resulting move away from Astana with Specialized filling that particular void. For the past three years Specialized had supplied Quickstep, with Tom Boonen riding their bikes to a Paris Roubaix victory and a Tour de France green jersey. Both Quickstep and Specialized seem to have concluded that three Pro Tour teams was a crowd, and both moved fast to end their association once Specialized's Astana hook-up became public.
Wilier Triestina, Campagnolo, Fulcrum, Vittoria
*Are they a Pro Tour team or aren't they? The UCI says no they didn't meet the neccesary criteria in terms of team set up and financing – however for the time being at least expect to see them at the races while their appeal rumbles on. They've been given special dispensation to ride the Tour Down Under and expect more dispensations until a final decision is reached in March. Damiano Cunego and his team mates will be riding the Wilier Cento 1 SL, with Campagnolo groupsets and Fulcrum – Campag's standalone wheel brand – er, wheels. The Italian theme continues with Vittoria tyres and through most of the rider's kit: Santini jerseys and shorts plus Gaerne shoes. Very patriotic, possibly though sticking with the Italian way of doing things for team finance may prove a costly mistake.
Cannondale, Mavic wheels, Campagnolo
Last year was a decent one for team Liquigas, mostly thanks to Franco Pellizotti who scored a Giro stage win and also took the polka dot jersey home from the Tour de France. Anyhow, the Cannondale bikes he was piloting got some decent airtime so no surprise that they're back for another helping in 2010. The Super Six Hi-Mod is based around a BB30 bottom bracket and Cannondale claim their engineers “have again shaved weight without sacrificing stiffness” - surely there's only so many times you can pull that stunt?
Liquigas are on Mavic wheels – the Cannondale website has the team spec as Cosmic Carbone SLR clinchers but in reality the boys will be using a tubular version that's only available to sponsored riders. Drivetrain-wise the Super Six mates Cannondale's excellent Hollowgram chainset (SRM power gauge optional) with 11-speed Super Record. Well, they are Italian. There's less love for the homeland in the finishing kit though, a mix of FSA and Fizik.
Canyon, Campagnolo, Mavic Wheels, Conti tyres
Silence Lotto as was, and on Canyons for the second year running. Not a bike brand that's well known in Blighty which is a shame because we've always been impressed when we've seen them in the flesh. They don't have a UK dealer network. You can get them over here though, because Canyon are an internet brand that grew out of a particularly go-ahead German bike shop. They have a reputation for making some very well thought-out bikes and let's not forget the current world champion rode one to victory in Italy last October… even if he isn't riding one any more.
The bike in question is the CF SLX Team which Canyon developed in conjunction with the Omega Pharma riders. You can have a team build, in team colours with Campag Record 11-spd, Mavic Cosmic Carbone wheels (though we're guessing the clincher version rather than the pro specials) and all of the team finishing kit for €5299 which manages to sound like both a lot of money and not that much either. You can even have your name on the top tube and national flag too… just like the pros. Nice.
Giant TCR SL, Shimano, PRO, Vittoria
Rabobank aren't just in for cycling, they put their weight behind a range of sports. A quick glance at the Rabosport website reveals that their equestrian team includes the excellently named Tim Lips, although orange seems to work better as a cycling kit than it does as a riding jacket. Anyway, we digress. It's as you were this year for the cyclists, with Giant coughing up the bikes. The bikes in question will be TCR Advanced SL road irons, the latest weapon in the compact movement that a Mike-Burrows-inspired Giant started back in the 1990s. You really have to see one in the flesh to appreciate just how big that rectangular section down tube is, but it promises plenty of stiffness and Robert Gesink is on record on the Giant website to sing its praises.
It's also worth mentioning the Trinity TT bike, which is possibly the oddest looking machine you'll see in the race against time. Pretty it ain't, but then Giant have always maintained that wasn't their main concern. It shows. Shimano's Pro offshoot will be supplying the wheels for the TTs, while Dura Ace kit will be standard on the TCRs
Pinarello, Shimano Di2, Shimano Dura Ace wheels
Team Sky's big money move to bring Bradley Wiggins on board really made the Sky Professional Cycling Team (to give them their official name) a talking point, and a one-two in their first competitive race in Adelaide has only served to bring the hype to a new level. Behind all the talk of course there's plenty of experience, and with Pinarello they've teamed up with an outfit that knows what it's like to dominate the road scene: they supplied the bikes that Miguel Indurain rode to his five Tour wins, and Oscar Pereiro won the Tour on a Dogma FP as recently as 2006.
As mentioned above the Dogma 60.1 features an asymmetric design from front to rear that's designed to balance the unequal forces created by the drivetrain; even so, the shape is more traditional than many of the aero offerings in the peloton this year. Hanging from it will be Shimano's Di2 electronic groupset mated to an SRM crankset, and Dura Ace C35 Carbon tubulars are the standard rolling stock for the team. They'll also be armed with Pinarello's FM1 TT bite, although Juan Antonio Flecha might have to borrow a team mate's for now: his fell off one of the teams cars in high winds!
Scott Addict RC, Shimano, Dura Ace wheels, Continental tyres
Scott certainly hit the sponsorship bullseye when they hooked up with Columbia last year. Suddenly they've got a bike that's won Milan San Remo and umpteen stages of the biggest two Grand Tours – in all the team won 132 victories last season. Any talk that earlier versions of Scott's top line road bikes were a tad flexy, by the rarified standards of the top performance bikes, have been firmly laid to rest by the sight of Mark Cavendish powering through from half a street back to take some improbable stage wins. Shimano being the main equipment sponsor it's a full Dura Ace set up on the team bike – and expect to see plenty of Di2 in evidence, team R1s will probably run Dura-Ace 7900 but the RC version is set up for Shimano's electronic gruppo. Expect to see a liberal sprinkling of Shimano Pro brand finishing kit too – as the bar and stem designed with Mark Cavendish's input hit the shops. HTC Columbia also have Scott's Plasma TT bike at their disposal – another of the peloton's cutting edge aero machines.
Ridley Noah, Campagnolo, Campagnolo wheels,Vredestein tyres
They may be a Russian team, regisered in Geneva, but it should be no surprise that their equipment choices mirror those of many of their Belgian rivals – team president Andrei Tchmil is a Russian turned Belgian. When it comes to componentry the Pro Tour's Belgian contingent seem to stick with what they know – Italian – and that means Campagnolo. Spiritual Belgians Katusha are no different, with both wheels and groupsets coming from the Italian company. The Italian connection doesn't end there – Ridley started out painting Colnagos. Oh and of course Katusha have got Filippo Pozatto, the Italian Belgian classics specialist, riding for them too which ties things up nicely. Fitting too, given Ridley's background that the technological wrinkle that sets their team bikes apart is partly paint derived. The Ridley R-Flow jetfoil fork – a design licensed from Oval, with a strip of Ridley's R-Flow paint behind the jetfoils – basically a rough strip which disrupts the laminar flow of air crossing the fork so, the theory goes, reducing drag. Not sure how helpful that will be to the likes of Robbie McEwen in the sprint.
Focus Izalco Team, SRAM, Lightweight standard 3 wheels, Continental tyres
You may not have heard of MILRAM FrühlingsQuark, but as sandwich spreads go it's a big deal over there in mainland Europe: Milram is a very German outfit. It's no surprise that Focus are teaming up with them for the second year, a good fit seeing that the German bikes will be piloted by a team that's two-thirds stocked with German riders. The Izalco Team has been tweaked for 2010, with most of the changes under the skin. “The most notable feature is the Reinforced Integrated Cable Tunnel”, say the makers, “a continuous separate tunnel for the cable on the main tube, which gives the frame more stiffness, keeps the cables clean and protected, and at the same time provides for an outstanding look”. Well, it makes a change from talking about bottom bracket stiffness, although for completeness we'll mention that the BB in question is a BB30. Expensive? Well, the Focus website helpfully prices the Lightweight-wheeled, SRAM Red bedecked team bike at “€€€€€€”, Wiggle though will sell you one for £5999.99, so yes. Milram will also be using the Walser-licensed Izalco Chrono TT bike for another year.
Trek, SRAM, Bontrager, Hutchinson, Zipvit
As they say in Americaland – the winningest technical set up of the lot and it's a brand new team too. Okay, what we have here is Astana 2009 minus the pesky non-team player. Nobody likes a show-boater especially when he actually steals the show… on his own. Anyway, for the team players, it's all back on the Madone 6 Series – a bike that's won its first Tour straight from the box last July.
You can bet too that they haven't stood still on the development front either, Armstrong and Bruyneel are every bit as convinced as Dave Brailsford of the advantage to be gained from aggregating incremental improvements – plus of course, Armstrong owns a slice of both Trek and SRAM. Wheels on the RadioShack bike are Bontrager Aeolus 5.0 carbon tubulars and Race XXX Lite wheels for the climbs. The bike is decked out with a slew of lightweight Bontrager Race XXX finishing kit. Whether Lance is the best rider or not may well be a moot point, he will have a phenomenal team behind him of both riders, bikes, and kit. As things currently stand the Madone is the bike to beat in the peloton – no-one, with the possible exception of Giant, can throw the sort of R&D budget that Trek has at the solving the problem of producing a race-winning road bike. You can find more pics of the bike here.
Specialized, SRAM, Zipp
Well this should be interesting – a battle of the clones with Astana with Mr Contador facing off against the Schlecks in the mountains on the same bike with the same groupsets and the same wheels and then taking on Fabian Cancellara in the time trials on the same bikes with the same wheels, same groupsets. Tyres aside then, as we said right at the top: all that technology should cancel itself out.
Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. If you are Specialized, Zipp, or SRAM on the one hand you're guaranteed to be on the winning side in any contest between Astana and Saxo Bank, but on the other you won't be able to take much credit for it unless of course it's one of your bits of kit that goes wrong to hand victory to your other sponsored rider.
All this is possibly good news for both Saxo Bank and Astana's as yet unknown (to us at least) tyre suppliers – unless of course they've both gone for the same one there too.
Wildcard: BMC Racing Team
BMC Pro Machine, Campagnolo, Easton wheels, Continental tyres
Well you it'd be a surprise if they were riding anything else wouldn't it? BMC bikes are back in the big time for the first time since the plug was pulled at Phonak a few years back following one too many doping scandal. With world champ Cadel Evans aboard and big George Hincapie backing him up there's no way these guys aren't going to be showing up at the big races.
Although the team is American, BMC is a Swiss company and it's been refining its road bike design over the past few years; these days the intersection of the top and seat tube is a lot smoother and less, well, industrial looking. By all accounts the latest incarnation of the Pro Machine, whilst still adhering to BMC's commitment to ultra stiff, über efficient frames, (which led one reviewer of an earlier model to say that if Tyler Hamilton could ride one of these for 3000Km around France then he truly was the King of Pain), offers an altogether more comfortable riding experience. Cadel and George will be relieved. Interestingly the Pro Machine sits below the Team Machine in the BMC bike range, we'd guess they will be seen on them too at some point.
Look out too for the BMC Time Machine in the TTs – so far ahead of the curve when it first appeared with its integrated fork steerer that even now five years later, and much imitated, it still looks radical.
Wildcard: Cervelo Test Team
Cervelo S3, SRAM, Zipp, Vittoria tyres
In their second year Cervelo are again likely to figure as one of the UCI's wild cards in most of the season's big races. The S3 is the most advanced version yet of Cervelo's aero road bike, concept we tested it last year – and it's an idea that a number of other manufacturers have also picked up on. Cervelo would no doubt claim that they have more experience of the form than anyone else and it has to be said that the S3 was ridden to pretty good effect last year with Thor Hushovd bagging his second Tour green jersey, Heinrich Haussler placing second in Milan San Remo, and Carlos Sastre getting 3rd in the Giro.
CTT are unlikely to confine themselves to just the S3 though, last year they also rode the S2 in some lesser races and the RS was ridden in Paris Roubaix, and at the Vuelta, and the more conventional R3 and R3 SL will no doubt get an airing too – well the latter did help Carlos Sastre win the 2008 Tour. The aluminium S1 may even get some outings. Last year Cervelo co-founder Gerard Vroomen told road.cc that in his opinion their aluminium bike was still better than many of the carbon models being used in the pro peloton. TT bike will be the P4. The biggest news on the equipment front for the new season is CTT's switch from Shimano to SRAM which we reported earlier.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.