The 2013 race season is now in full swing with races currently taking place across the world. With these early season races it’s our first chance to see the latest bikes and equipment, many in new livery as new sponsors have stepped forward.
There are 19 WorldTour teams, and many are sticking with the same frame and component suppliers as last year. There’s a couple of new brands, and we welcome Merida to the peloton for the first time. It’s perhaps surprising that one of the world’s very biggest bike brands has never dipped a toe in the professional road scene before, but they come from many years of backing the fastest mountain bike racers, so they’re no strangers to supplying race winning kit. They’ve joined up with Italian squad Lampre, leaving previous bike sponsor Wilier absent from the 2013 pro scene.
Focus are back as well, making a return to the top level of cycle racing with Ag2r-La Mondiale. They’ve signed a three year deal which should give them the stability they’ve not yet enjoyed in their time as a pro race team bike supplier.
A huge brand notable by their absence is Colnago, a marque steeped in racing history. The Italian bike brand supplies bikes to the Europcar squad, but they didn’t get the WorldTour license they were hoping to this year. This is a real shame as the C59, in my humble opinion, was one of the prettiest bikes in the peloton.
A new look team this year is Blanco Pro Cycling, with Rabobank having pulled the plug on their sponsorship at the end of last year, we’ll not see the iconic orange kit in the peloton anymore. This team has the backing of Giant, who supplied Rabobank for the past two years, and continue for the foreseeable future.
Those are the big changes this season, the other 16 teams remain with the same bike sponsor they had in 2012. There’s a few new bikes this year, and we’re sure there will be a couple of other new bikes to be revealed in the run up to the Tour de France. The most notable news on this front is Giant’s Propel, their first aero bike which is making its debut in the Tour Down Under.
Shimano dominant + year of the electronic groupset
As for equipment, Shimano is still the dominant drivetrain supplier with ten teams running Dura-Ace. Five teams are on Campagnolo Super Record EPS and just three teams are on SRAM RED.
Most Shimano and Campagnolo teams, as far as we can tell, will be using the electronic versions of the groupsets. Electronic groupsets are really popular this year, and just about every single Shimano and Campagnolo sponsored team will be running Di2 or EPS, respectively. Of course there will be a bit of pressure from the component manufactures on the team to use the newest groupsets, and it’ll be interesting to spot which riders prefer the mechanical version.
Without question, SRAM’s mechanical RED groupset is the lightest on the market. There’s no sign of an electronic (or wireless) groupset from the US company yet, but who’s to say they haven’t got something up their sleeves this summer.
A couple of trends we’ve spotted this year: lots of PRO and FSA components. FSA has always been a prominent sight and this year it’s almost hard to spot the team that isn’t looked after by the Italian company for stems, handlebars and seatposts. Also noticeable is the number of Shimano sponsored teams that now appear to be using the company’s PRO range of stems, handlebars and seatposts. Are Shimano offering a better deal to these teams perhaps?
There’s also more Shimano wheels in the peloton this year, and less Zipp and Mavic than we have seen in previous years.
Frame: Aeroad CF + Ultimate CF SLX
Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 11-speed
First they were out, then a CAS appeal saw their WorldTour licence upheld, and they're back in the pro peloton. Katusha are supported by German manufacturer Canyon, and have the choice of two road bikes, the aero Aeroad CF or the lighter Ultimate CF SLX. The latter is a 790g frame, for a size large, and is made from a ultra high modulus carbon fibre with details like the flattened top tube, bulged seat tube and slim seat stays. The dropouts on the frame and fork are carbon, there’s a press fit bottom bracket, and cables are routed internally, with two versions of the frame for electronic or mechanical shifting. We’ve had a ride on it and been very impressed.
The team are supported by Mavic, and it will be interesting if any of the team ride the Cosmic Carbon 40 clincher wheels throughout the season. Shimano’s latest Di2 groupset and Ritchey bars and stem with Canyon’s own seatpost complete the details.
BMC Racing Team
Frame: TeamMachine SLR01 / TimeMachine TMR01
Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace
Wheels: Shimano Dura-Ace
BMC back their own team and the riders have the choice of the TeamMachine, which has been around for a couple of years. It’s their go-to all-rounder. The riders also have the option of the newer TimeMachine, the aero bike launched at the Tour de France last year. The riders are clearly allowed to make their own choice, and we’ve only seen a few opting for this bike over the trusty TeamMachine. We expect to see more of its presence this season, as the aero bike war is hotting up. We imagine the team will be on the GranFondo GF01 again for the cobbled classics.
Frame: Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Think2
Components: Pinarelloa MOST
The Spanish squad will be riding the newer Dogma 65.1 Think2, as opposed to the Dogma 2. They dress their frames, finished with a discrete Movistar logo colour stripe on the inside of the front triangle, and white chainstay/seatstay insides, with Campagnolo Record EPS electronic 11-speed groupset. Wheels are from the Italian company too, with the 50mm deep-section Bora’s the most likely choice for all races except the classics.
Blanco Pro Cycling Team
Frame: Giant Propel
Drivetrain: Shimano Di2 9070
Wheels: Shimano C-50
With new title sponsor Blanco taking over when Rabobank left the sport last year, Giant are still a major player at the top level of the sport, and they used the Tour Down Under to reveal their first ever aerodynamic road bike, the Propel. It promises much, this new bike, with a frame weight of 950g, decent stiffness and, according to their testing, it's faster than all other aero bikes. We expect to see some riders still opting for the lighter TCR Advanced (about 820g) when the races head into the mountains this summer. Shimano continue to supply groupsets and it'll be the new Dura-Ace Di2 11-speed.
Cannondale Pro Cycling
Frame: Cannondale SuperSix Evo
Drivetrain: SRAM RED
Another big sponsor, along with Rabobank, to leave the sport is Liquigas. Never fear, because Cannondale have picked up the bill and will provide the financial support the team, which carries over from 2012 virtually unchanged, need to compete at the highest level. Riders like Ivan Basso and Peter Sagan will campaign this season on the same SuperSix Evo as they rode last year.
There’s a lighter version of the frame available, but seeing as the Evo is already one of the lightest in the peloton, and mechanics have to fit weights (solid axles is the rumour we’ve heard), they probably won’t be making the leap anytime soon. They continue to use SRAM’s RED mechanical groupset, the lightest on the market, and they’ve dropped Mavic wheels in favour of Vision. They’ve also a new tyre sponsor, Kenda, this season.
Astana Pro Team
Frame: Specialized Tarma
Drivetrain: Campagnolo Recod EPS
Wheels: Corima wheels
Components: Specialized (including cranks)
Astana have been on Specialized bikes for a while now and most riders will be racing the Tarmac SL4. A notable change is the switch from SRAM to Campagnolo for their drivetrain supplier. They, like every other team running Campagnolo, will use the Record EPS 11-speed groupset. As well as frames, they’ll use cranks, stems, handlebars and seatposts from Specialized. They’re the only team to roll on Corima wheels as well. They'll use the Aero or MCC, which both feature a full carbon rim with a foam core. Spokes are carbon too and so is the hub. So they're light, very light, they tip the scales at just over 1kg.
Francaise des Jeux
Frame: Lapierre Xelius EFI Ultimate Di2
Drivetrain: Shimano Di2
Wheels: Shimano wheels
French team FDJ are still on fellow French firm Lapierre’s bikes for 2013. The company has developed the new Xelius EFI Ultimate for the team, it’s their lightest (890g) and stiffest frame they’ve ever produced. Frames will be fitted with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 11-speed groupsets, with the battery hidden in the seat post. They’ve also shopped at Shimano for the components and wheels this year.
Frame: Ridley Noah FAST / Helium SL
Drivetrain: Campagnolo Record EPS
The Lotto-Belisol team, headed by fearsome sprinter Andre Greipel and Grand Tour potential Jurgen Van Den Broeck, have the choice of two top-level race bikes.
The Helium SL is their superlight option while the Noah FAST is their cutting-edge aero bike designed for the pursuit of speed. They’re using Campagnolo’s electronic EPS 11-speed groupset with wheels from the same company. Deda bars, stem and seatposts complete the build.
Frame: Focus Izalco Team SL Carbon
Drivetain: Campagnolo Record EPS
Components: Fizik Cyrano
Focus aren’t strangers to the pro peloton, having supplied Milram and Katusha in past years. They’re back with a three-year deal signed with Ag2r, which should see their bikes being the constant presence they really deserve to be. The Team SL Carbon is the latest and lightest version of the long-running Izalco. The frame has never been the lightest, but it’s now under a kilo at 960g. It’s built with Campagnolo Record EPS 11-speed with matching wheels. They’re the only team to be using Fizik’s new Cyrano handlebar, stem and seatpost setup. Saddles will be Fizik too.
Frame: Scott Foil
Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Wheels: Shimano wheels,
The Australian team retain Scott as bike supplier, and the Foil aero bike, which has been around for a couple of years, is their bike of choice. Are we due for an update or new bike from Scott this year? I wouldn’t put it past them. The frame is still very cutting-edge with aerofoil shaped tube profiles and a sub-1kg frame weight. It’s dressed with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, and will be running the 11-speed version of the new groupset as we get into the season proper. Shimano also supply wheels to the team and PRO the handlebars and stem. The Foil has a special aero seat tube that is Scott’s own design. Continental supply the tyres.
Frame: Trek Domane 6.9 and Madone 7.9
Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070
Wheels: Bontrager Aelous
No bike or equipment changes for Radioshack: they’ll be using the Madone and Domane bikes that were introduced last year. The Domane, built for races like Paris-Roubaix, didn’t get the best showing with the rider who helped develop it, Fabian Cancellera, as he crashed and broke his collarbone in the Tour of Flanders. This year should be different.
Where outright speed and weight matter, the team will use the Madone. It’s more of an all-rounder and is the company’s first attempt at an aero road bike. It borrows KammTail technology to shape the tubes, and repositions the rear brake under the chainstays to make it slip through air cleaner and more quickly.
The only notable change is that they’ll be using Shimano’s new Dura-Ace 9070 electronic groupset, which permits stowage of the essential battery inside the seat post, allowing for a much cleaner looking frame.
Bontrager continue to supply most of the finishing components, including their new-ish Aelous wheels. The tyres, though, come from Schwalbe.
Frame: Felt F1
Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Wheels: Shimano C-50 wheels
Argos-Shimano have stepped up from a UCI Professional Continental Licence to the big league this year and that means we’ll be seeing a lot more of Felt’s flagship F1. It’s their lightest and stiffest race bike ever produced. It was quick last year, as John Degenkolb’s showed.
For 2013 Felt have upped their carbon fibre manufacturing process and are using a new TeXtreme woven carbon fiber fabric to construct the frame.This TeXtreme is produced by a Swedish company, oXeon, who supply Formula 1 teams. It's advanced stuff, it has woven fibre piles that are very thin and means less material is needed for the same level of stiffness. So the new frames are the same the stiffness department, but lighter.
Felt also produce the AR1, a slippery aero bike that was one of the first of this new breed of race bikes, when it launched a good few years ago. It has been changed for 2013, and drops a bit of weight due to a new InsideOut moulding process for the bottom bracket, head tube and seat stays. Basically it leaves the insides fo the tubes cleaner and the walls thinner. It’s now boasting a frame weight of 1,050g (down from 1,400g).
The team will build this bikes with Shimano’s new Dura-Ace Di2 and wheels. As a Shimano backed team, this is a good one to keep any eye out for in early season races, as they might try out new wheels on this team first, before rolling them out to the rest of its sponsored teams.
Take a look at John Degenkolb’s 2012 team bike.
Frame: Specialized Venge and Tarmac SL4
Drivetrain: SRAM RED
Specialized support three WorldTour teams, the third being Saxo-Tinkoff, headed by Alberto Contador. They too will have the pick of the aero Venge or the light and stiff Tarmac SL4.
They will be using SRAM’s RED groupset There’s no news on anything electronic from SRAM yet, but based on the popularity of both Shimano Di2 and Campagnolo EPS, maybe SRAM will make an announcement of something similar this year. And they’re one of two teams to roll on Zipp wheels (the other is Quickstep). They also use Zipp bars, stems and seatposts.
Frame: Cervelo S5
Drivetrain: Shimano Di2 + Rotor cranks
At the time of writing, the Garmin-Sharp team rolls out on identical kit to last year. That means either the Cervélo R5 or S5, depending on rider preference and race profile, wrapped up with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, Mavic wheels and Rotor chainsets.
Cervélo partnered with Magura to develop the latter’s RT8 hydraulic rim brakes, and expect to see these perhaps being used throughout the season. There’s much talk about SRAM releasing a hydraulic rim brake (with disc brakes not currently allowed in UCI road races), this could be a hot topic of debate.
Both the S5 and R5 are over a year old now so chances are there’s something new from Cervélo in the pipeline this year. If we had to put money on it, we’d point to the R-series as the most likely to receive a new model.
Frame: Orbea Orca
Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Wheels: Shimano C50
The Spanish outfit sticks with Spanish bike brand Orbea for their race bikes. The Orca appears unchanged this season from the one they raced last year. They’re without doubt the most distinctive bikes in the peloton, and not just because of the orange paint jobs. The all-carbon frame is cutting-edge with a tapered head tube and BB30, and has a sleek seatclamp design that I think looks just lovely.
As last year, they have Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrains, Shimano Dura-Ace wheels and FSA finishing parts.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step
Frame: Specialized Tarmac and Venge
Drivetrain: SRAM RED
The team of Tom Boonen and Mark Cavendish is sponsored for another season by Specialized. Many of the team, including Cav, will be on the wind cheating Venge aero bike for most of the season.
They’re one of two teams to get Zipp wheels. The same company also supplies stems, bars and seatposts. No electronic groupsets here, it’s mechanical all the way with SRAM RED. Cav has been outspoken on his delight at being back on Specialized this season, after a year spent on the Pinarello Dogma. He has good history on the Venge; it’s the bike he raced to victory in the World Championships in 2011.
Frame: Merida Scultura SL
Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
The really big news on the bike front this year is that of Merida, the world’s biggest producer of bicycles, stepping up to the professional racing scene. After many years supporting top-level mountain bike teams, the company is keen to earn some respect as a road bike producer.
They’ll supply the Italian squad with the Scultura SL, their top-end frame that tickles the scales to just 830g. Like most modern road bikes, it’s packed with features, but also has some interesting unique touches. Double Chamber reinforcement ribs within the frame is something they’ve developed, and significantly stiffens it up.
The Scultura SL will be fitted with Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and FSA components. And here’s a pairing we don't’ see often, Fulcrum wheels on a Shimano equipped bike. Fulcrum wheels are made by Campagnolo, they’re essentially the same but they picked a neutral name that allows non-Campagnolo equipped bikes to use their wheels happily.
Frame Pinarello Dogma
Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Team Sky raced most of last season on the Dogma 2, but this year they’ll be switching to the newer, but very nearly identical, Dogma 65.1 Think 2. The Dogma, with its curved seat stays and fork legs, is one of the distinctive bikes of the peloton, and also the most successful last year. Should they ride the newer Dogma 65.1, they’ll be riding a frame is made from 65-ton Torayca 65HM1K Nanoalloy Carbon (see where the 65 in the name comes from now?) which leads to a stiffer frameset.
The frame is now better suited to integrating electronic groupsets, and the team will continue to use Shimano Dura-Ace Di2. Wiggins and Froome use O.Symetric chainrings rather than stock Shimano round rings. Wheels are Shimano (though we did see a few interesting non-Shimano issue wheels last year, Chris King and Tune hubs on non-branded rims) and components once again come from the PRO range.
Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
Frame: Bianchi Oltre XR
Drivetrain: Campagnolo Super Record EPS + FSA chainset
Wheels: FFWD wheels
Vacansoleil-DCM continue to be supported by Italian bike firm Bianchi, and this season get the new OItre to race. It’s their best performing road bike, is stiffer and lighter than the previous Oltre, with a frame weight of about 890g. The Oltre XR is a carbon monocoque with UMS 40 and CN 60 ultra high modulus carbon fibre used in the construction. Like most other pro-level bikes these days, it gets an oversized BB30 bottom bracket and a tapered head tube. And inside the head tube is their unique X-Tex, which increases structural stiffness with a cross weave layer. It’s a bike that impressed us when we tested it recently.
They will rely on a Campagnolo Super Record EPS and will be the only team mixing it up with an FSA K-Force chainset.
We'll update this article (and the photos) as the season progresses.
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