Garmin/Chipotle has landed with a considerable thump in this year’s
Tour de France. Its riders have been highly visible in the race, with many riders setting the pace and getting in decent breaks. William
Frischkorn did just that with a second place on the 2nd stage, and Christian Vande Velde rode as high as
third place on General Classification.
The bike Magnus Backstedt used in the spring classics
Considerable, then, has been the team’s impact in the race, but it also represents
the Tour debut of US bike manufacturer Felt. The company has been building bikes
for years and has a huge following in the triathlon world, but this race will
surely lead to a Felt uptake in the road cycling/racing scene around the globe.
The bikes offer the riders some formidable weaponry, with some interesting
choices. Released not long before the Tour got rolling is the aerodynamically
AR. William Frischkorn rode his to great effect in a day-long break on just
the second stage of the race, netting a 2nd place in the process. He’ll
understandably have been thankful of the watts saved due to the frame’s aero-efficiency.
Felt claim: “Wind tunnel testing has already shown that the AR is not
only faster than all other road bikes in its class, in many cases it is faster
than a great number of available TT
bikes. In general terms, the new AR offers an approximately 2% saving over
a standard road bike when in identical conditions. Depending on actual speed
and wind conditions, this equates to a saving of 58-75(+) seconds over the course
of a one hour ride.”
While the AR has been in action on the flatter stages, as the race entered
the mountains the company’s team issue F1 was pulled out of the team bus.
The frame carries Felt’s distinctive profile and is built from proprietary
Ultra-Hybrid carbon into a sub 900g frameset.
Each bike in the team fleet is equipped with a full complement of Shimano Dura-Ace
7800 parts, with Oval supplying handlebars, stems and seat posts. Saddles are
mostly Fizik’s Arione. Zipp wheels take care of rotational duties, with
various rim depths available to the team depending on the stage. For many of
the stages the bikes are fitted with CycleOps PowerTap SL 2.4 rear hubs, laced
to Zipp rims, which communicate, via ANT+ wireless protocol, to the stem-mounted
(and custom painted) Garmin Edge 705 computers.
This allows each rider a staggering amount of data at their disposal and allows
easy analysis following each stage. Speed, altitude, distance, heart rate and
watts are available at a glance on the Edge’s large colour screen. No
other team can boast such technological wizardry. Another benefit is the ability
to share such data, which we’ve been able to exclusively share recently,
with all the numbers from David
Millar’s stage four time trial.