Tour Tech 2013: Mikel Nieve’s Orbea Orca
A look at the new Orbea Orca belonging to Euskaltel-Euskadi's Mikel Nieve, currently wearing the polka dot jersey
Euskaltel-Euskadi rider Mikel Nieve, riding his first Tour de France, pulled on the red and white polka dot jersey after finishing third on stage 15, which finished atop Mont Ventoux. Nieve is actually only third in the climbing classification, behind Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana, but they’re wearing the yellow and white jersey respectively.
Euskaltel-Euskadi are sponsored by Spanish bicycle manufacturer Orbea, and they unveiled the updated Orca just in time for the three week race. The Orca has been with us for 10 years but Orbea have been constantly developing, tweaking and honing it over that time. The latest update centres on making it lighter, stiffer and more aero - as is usually the way. It's still unmistakably an Orbea though, all curved and swooping shapes and interesting details.
Aero is becoming so important this year that most manufacturers are taking their bikes to the wind tunnel to ensure they’re as fast as they can be. While not an out-and-out aero bike like a Specialized Venge or a Ridley Noah Fast, Orbea have worked at reducing the frontal surface area, an important step in reducing drag. So the head tube and fork are narrower, and all cables are now routed internally to smooth airflow over the frame, and the seatpost is aero shaped as well.
It’s lighter too, partly thanks to a switch to a PressFit bottom bracket, removing the need for any aluminium inserts. Stiffness has increased by 8%, according to Orbea. There’s an integrated seat clamp to save weight and improve aerodynamics, and carefully shaped seatstays and chainstays to deliver the increased stiffness, all measures that will help on climbs like Mont Ventoux.
Nieve spins on Shimano Dura-Ace C35 tubular wheels with Vittoria Corsa Evo tyres. The groupset is Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 9070 11-speed, with an SRM Powermeter. The Orca has new EC/DC (clectronic cable, direct cable) routing so it’s easily compatible with either electronic or mechanical groupsets.
It’s an FSA cockpit, with a 12cm OS99 carbon stem with just a spacer above. That’s quite a tall headset top cap though, so it’s not slammed as much as some bikes we've seen in the race. The handlebar is an Energy New Ergo, made from tapered and shot-peened AL7050/T6 alloy. Most riders go for aluminium bars rather than carbon. The bar has a simple round drop with a 150mm drop and 80mm reach. Nieve's saddle choice is a Selle Italia SLR with a cutaway section, with carbon rails to save weight.
There have been chain catchers everywhere in previous years but most riders using Di2 do without. We've not noticed any major incidents with riders dropping the chain in the Tour so far this year.
Make sure to check out the full roundup of team road bikes in this article.