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Check out the Giant TCR that Steffen Wesemann piloted to Tour of Flanders victory two decades ago

The TCR paved the way for modern road bike design and geometry, and it was a T-Mobile-Team liveried carbon TCR that Wesemann rode to his biggest career win back in 2004

By the time you're reading this, the Tour of Flanders will have been raced and conquered by someone on a modern, fully cable integrated bike with disc brakes, and tyres likely wider than 28mm. 20 years ago, the classic monument was won on a bike with slimmer tyres, less aero going on and much less cable-tidiness, yet still had arguably the biggest influence on the design of many road bikes today. We are, of course, talking about the Giant TCR, which had a full carbon fibre frame by 2004.

The Giant TCR was raced to Flanders Victory by German Steffen Wesemann ahead of Belgians Leif Hoste and Dave Bruylandt that year. The bike, in its third generation at the time, was the standard race bike deployed by Wesemann's T-Mobile Team. It was raced at the Tour de France as well as the spring classics, and in all its magenta, white and black class, this might also be one of the most famous pro bicycle liveries ever. Not necessarily only because of its colourway...

A Campagnolo-equipped TCR with the famous T-Mobile paint job

In the following two decades, the TCR has been replaced in the pro peloton by the more aero (and now lighter) Giant Propel, but as a testament to its significance, Giant has just recently released the 10th generation TCR, which first entered the market in 1997 as an aluminium road bike. 

By '04, the TCR Advanced SL featured a carbon composite frame and fork, all of which were designed to be lightweight, stiff, and aerodynamic – all words firmly present in modern-day race bikes, too. The brand had made the switch from aluminium to carbon only a couple of years earlier. 2004 was also the year the brand introduced an integrated seatpost to the design. 

And already two decades ago, it featured a slightly sloping top tube and shorter rear triangle, aimed at making the bike stiffer and more reactive. These are the features that revolutionised bike design 25 years ago, and they continue to be the basis of many bikes today. 

> Check out the Specialized S-Works Tarmac that Peter Sagan rode to Tour of Flanders victory in 2016

Initially, the rather radical design of the TCR designed by the late, legendary Mike Burrows was even frowned upon by cycling's governing body, the UCI, which banned the bike so that riders would not gain an unfair advantage simply because of the equipment they were using (some things never change, huh.) Whether it was the equipment that was giving that unfair advantage to the reserved few at the time... well, that's probably not a rabbit hole to dive down in our Bike At Bedtime feature...

Eventually, Giant was able to convince the UCI to think otherwise and the ban was lifted. The same can't be said for the poor old Giant MCR, which had a firm ban hammer applied due to its radical slice of carbon monocoque and lack of seatstays. 

> Remembering the Giant MCR, one of the first truly aero road bikes


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The 2004 TCR was typically equipped with high-end components from Shimano or Campagnolo. This basically meant either a Shimano Dura-Ace (10-speed) or Campagnolo Record drivetrain, and accompanying wheels. The Shimano Dura-Ace WH-7800s were a popular choice, and though they were dubbed as lightweight back then, the 1,716g heft would not appeal to many elite road cyclists today. 

T-Mobile Giant TCR 2004 c: chris davidson

In terms of tyres, 23mm was pretty much standard, and rim brakes were the go-to system – though later in 2016 the TCR became one of the first race bikes available with disc brakes.

If you want to dive into the atmosphere of the 2004 Tour of Flanders, there's a pretty good video on it here on YouTube

What do you think of the TCR? Should it still be the bike of choice for Flanders? Let us know in the comments and make sure to also check out our other Bike at Bedtime features

Suvi joined F-At in 2022, first writing for She's since joined the tech hub, and contributes to all of the sites covering tech news, features, reviews and women's cycling content. Lover of long-distance cycling, Suvi is easily convinced to join any rides and events that cover over 100km, and ideally, plenty of cake and coffee stops. 

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