Today's time trial was set to be a race defining stage for Sir Bradley Wiggins' 2013 Giro campaign - to have any hope of winning the race, he had to win here and win emphatically. Cometh the hour, cometh the bike, as the new Pinarello Bolide was unleashed, or as it turned partially unleashed, to help Wiggo claim that win.
Only Wiggins had a Bolide for the Giro, his Sky teammates and Movistar (who also ride Pinarellos) were all on Graals, Movistar's Alex Dowsett setting the time to beat on one. It's fair to say that the Bolide's debut was not a happy one, what's thought to have been a slow puncture resulting in Wiggins depositing it in a roadside bush some 17 mins and 58 seconds into the 54.8km stage.
This video gives us an close-up look at the bike Wiggins rode for the first quarter of the stage. Things to note include the use of mechanical Dura Ace rather than Di2 and the ditching of the O-Symmetric rings in favour of a round Dura Ace 56-42 chain set. We also get a good look at those brake fairings - it would be good to know the UCI's thinking on what makes these ones legal while the ones on the latest Cervelo and BMC TT bikes are not, not that Sky or Pinarello will worry about that, it's got the UCI sticker and that's what counts.
Possibly the most interesting nugget of information regards the close levels of co-operation between the Italian manufacturer and Dimitris Katsanis, the man who designs British Cycling's track frames and who apparently played a leading part in the design of this bike for Pinarello. This bike shares a number of design features with the Team GB bikes including the widely spaced fork legs and the handlebar and stem setup, the difference on the Bolide being that bars and stem are integrated.
Pinarello launched their new Bolide TT bike on the eve of this year's Giro although it didn't taste action in the Stage 2 team time trial - with Wiggins and his Sky teammates sticking with their tried and tested Graals for that one. Intriguingly, it has been said that Sky intended for Wiggins to ride the Bolide in that stage but that there were issues with it at scrutineering - how credible that may be is open to debate, if there were problems they shouldn't have been with the frame, given it has a UCI approved sticker, which was supposed to end such problems.
The issue of the apparent fairings over the brakes is an interesting one, and it seems the UCI are happy with them. Article 1.3.024 in the UCI's rulebook states: "Protective screens, aerodynamic shapes, fairings or any other device that is added or forms part of the structure, and that is destined or has the effect of reducing wind resistance, are prohibited."
But with the exception of brakes, derailleirs and pedal cranks: "The pedal crank is not subject to the regulation, but its transverse dimension is restricted to 8 cm. The regulation does not apply to the pedals, front or rear derailleur bodies or wheel brake mechanisms," it adds.
So there you go, those brake fairings are indeed legal As long as the brake and covers fit within an 8cm box, and are taken into consideration in the measurement of 1:3 ratios and minimum/maximum dimensions, they're just fine.
There's some history between the UCI and bike manufacturers when it comes to time trial bikes, much more so than road bikes. Back in 2010, two days before the final time trial in the Volta ao Algarve race. the UCI declared the then new Specialized Shiv illegal as they deemed the nose-cone - a non-structural fairing - contravened their rules. Their gripe was that it extended beyond the 3:1 aspect ratio they enforce for all tube profiles, and wasn't a structural element. Specialized redesigned the Shiv for 2012. Giant also had similar problems with their Trinity TT bike, with a similarly designed nose-cone.
More recently, BMC's TimeMachine TMR01, an aero road bike, launched with what appears to be a slim fairing in front of the head tube, but is their solution to integrating the front brake into the fork. It serves no structural purpose however, BMC told us in those exact words. The UCI are apparently fine with this, as the bike has been raced loads since it launched at the Tour de France last year.
While the Bolide's debut might not have been all that had been hoped for, Pinarello at least can take some comfort in Alex Dowsett's performance - he rode the course 10 seconds quickier than Wiggins… even if it was on a Graal.
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.