It's that time of year where we get all drooly about all the fantastically expensive and super-high-end kit the pros will be riding in 2011. And what better place to start that the Team HTC Highroad, home of Mark Cavendish and his world-beating train. They've sent us some info on the team bikes, so we thought we'd do the decent thing and share.
We've got used to seeing team HTC/Highroad/Columbia (pick two) piloting Scott bikes but for 2011 Specialized are the bike sponsor. There's four bikes in the pro team line-up: Tarmac, Roubaix, Amira and Shiv. Like Saxo Bank last year, HTC Highroad's riders will be free to choose between the stiffer Tarmac (or Amira for the ladies) and the slightly more forgiving Roubaix. Of course, all the team bikes will be the top-dollar S-Works models; the Tarmac and Roubaix are both on their SL3 incarnation.
All of the riders underwent Specialized's custom fit service and the team found they could accommodate all the riders with stock geometry frames. Well, when we say 'stock' that's not quite true; most of the pros are on the racier geometry versions of the bikes with a shorter head tube. 'Team geo', as it was known, used to be an option for average Joes like us, but no longer. "Very few general consumers have the same needs or flexibility as the pros, so there just wasn’t enough demand for a commercial offering", Specialized told us.
And what of Cav's bikes? Will the Manx powerhouse be getting a beefed up machine for those bunch sprints? Well, maybe. "Though we can’t go into detail, we are working extensively with Cav to help us develop better bikes", Specialized said. "While the bikes he is riding are not always 100% stock, the goal in having him ride them is to develop the bike that will ultimately become stock. The data we are able to collect from strain gauges placed on his bike give us some great insight into how we can do things better."
Of course it's not just about the frame, and there's some tasty kit hanging from them and it's mostly provided by Shimano. All the bike pics that Specialized sent through were of Di2-equipped bikes; although we'd expect that the riders will have the final say as to whether they go electronic or mechanical, we're expecting to see lots more Di2 in the pro peloton this year.
Shimano are also supplying the wheels with Dura Ace C35 clinchers and C50 tubulars in evidence on the spy shots. The Shiv's disc wheel is by Shimano's offshoot component arm, Pro, which is also supplying bars, stems and seatposts to the team. Fizik are rounding off the package with their saddles.
That's not all from HTC Highroad, either. In keeping with many of the pro teams they've been busy on the video front, we have to say that we think their offerings are better than most; less footage of people on bikes, more talking heads. Well, all talking heads actually. They're worth a look; obviously they're a bit contrived but you do get a bit of flavour and an idea of who does what on the team. We're guessing Tony Martin isn't the joker in the pack...
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.