Things didn't exactly go to plan at this year's Tour de France for Astana's big GC hope Jakob Fuglsang, abandoing with injury on stage 16 - so he won't be riding this Argon 18 Nitrogen Disc aero road weapon when the Tour makes its way to the Champs-Élysées on Sunday.
Fulgsang was riding Argon 18’s Gallium Pro for the majority of the Tour, particularly in the mountains – however for the fast and flat stages, the aerodynamic Nitrogen Disc fits the bill.
The disc brake version of the Nitrogen was launched in late 2018, and has everything you’d expect on a modern disc brake race bike such as flat mount calipers, thru-axles front and rear and a rigid, clean-looking frame.
There's up to 30mm of tyre clearance, and the monocoque carbon frame was completely redesigned for flat mount disc brakes, which Argon 18 say resulted in a huge 80% increase in lateral stiffness compared to the Nitrogen Pro with rim brakes, for the same levels of comfort.
Argon 18 say the Nitrogen is a versatile aero bike, featuring a road geometry with aero tubing - something that would appeal to a GC contender such as Fulgsang who won’t be requiring a bike as aggressive as a sprinter.
Their clever 3D System remains on the sisc version of the Nitrogen, providing three head tube heights for every frame size which the company says preserves front-end stiffness and rigidity compared to the more conventional stack of spacers.
Of course, Fulgsang’s bike has some extra pro touches such as his name and the Danish national flag towards the back of the top tube. The frameset has Astana’s trademark colours, fading into the turquoise that appears on their jerseys at the forks, down tube and seat stays.
There are still some brake cables and Di2 wires on show at the front unlike completely cableless aero bikes from the likes of Cervelo and Cannondale, with Astana’s mechanics choosing not to house the Di2 junction box within the little specially made gap on the underside of Vision’s Metron 5d integrated handlebars – various sources tell us it can be a little hard to get at.
Fulgsang stands at 6 feet tall, and we measured his saddle height at 79cm – the saddle itself is Prologo’s Dimension NDR with carbon rails. At the front end he’s gone for a 120mm stem on his one-piece Metron 5d bar and stem combo, and the handlebar width is 42cm with Prologo bar tape.
The Powerbox chainset is courtesy of FSA, with 53/39 chainrings and K-Force Light cranks in a length of 175mm. Fitted to those cranks are Look’s Keo Blade carbon pedals.
This is the all carbon verison of FSA’s crank-based power meter with hollow carbon arms for the lightest possible build. As well as your power it tells you advanced metrics such as left-right leg balance and pedal smoothness.
Shimano components make up the rest of the drivetrain, gearing and braking, with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 shifters, front and rear derailleurs and brake calipers. Interestingly Fulgsang’s disc rotors are actually the second-tier Shimano Ultegra Icetech versions, which we suspect could be a cost-saving measure a as a result of Astana not being directly sponsored by Shimano – this means they will likely be buying in the Shimano components they use on their bikes.
The wheels are a set of Corima WS+ in a 32mm depth, with 25mm Wolfpack Race tubular tyres. Wolfpack is a fairly new name to the tyre market and was started by rubber compound expert Wolfgang Arenz, who previously worked for Continental and Specialized. He decided to go it alone and barely a year after found the company, Wolfpack are already Astana’s tyre sponsor and they’re also making mountain bike and gravel tyres too.
What do you think of this bike? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out all our other Tour tech articles!
Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.