The 2015 Giro d’Italia got underway on Saturday with a 17.6km team time trial from San Lorenzo al Mare to San Remo – and we were there to check out the tech on display at the start of the first Grand Tour of the season.
The team time trial is a unique discipline in cycling, combining pure power and aerodynamics with the team work and cohesion required to get a group of riders across the line in the fastest time possible. Orica-GreenEDGE triumphed on the day, putting Simon Gerrans into the first leader’s jersey of the race. We’ve profiled Gerrans’
Scott Plasma 5 time trial bike here.
Flick through the photo gallery below to see what else we spotted in San Remo, including Brett Lancaster 58-tooth chainring (!), SRAM’s yet-to-be-released wireless electronic groupset, wind-cheating bikes aplenty, and much more.
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Alberto Contador's Specialized Shiv
Alberto Contador started the Giro d'Italia as favourite and his Tinkoff-Saxo team finished second in the team time trial, seven seconds behind Orica-GreenEDGE. This is Contador's Specialized Shiv time trial bike.
The TTT took place on a largely flat, 17.6km course from San Lorenzo al Mare to San Remo and the vast majority of riders opted for a larger chainring combination than the conventional 53-39t road setup, with Contador using a 54-42t chainset from Vision's Metron time trial groupset.
Legs of steel
Brett Lancaster's Scott Plasma 5 sported the biggest chainring of the day... a whopping 58-teeth. It makes our legs hurt just looking at it. Lancaster put it to good use, helping his Orica-GreenEDGE squad to victory. OGE are sponsored by Shimano but these are FSA chainrings. You can just about make out the Italian firm's decals.
SRAM's wireless electronic groupset has been in the offing for some time and it looks to be going through the final stages of testing, with Ag2r La Mondiale rider Dominico Pozzovivo's Focus Izalco Chrono Max dressed in the American firm's components.
Here's what we know about SRAM wireless to date.
SRAM have developed
silicone satellite shifter buttons for the groupset and Ag2r's mechanics fashioned them on to the end of Pozzovivo's aero extensions. As far as we know to date (SRAM are yet to confirm any details about the groupset), each individual button moves the rear derailleur in a single direction, while if you press them both together then you'll shift the front derailleur.
Team Sky helped bring the Wahoo Kickr smart trainer into the public eye
Giro d'Italia 2015 - team time trial: Team Sky, Wahoo Kickr turbo trainer, Richie Porte's Pinarello Dogma F8
Team Sky were also the only squad to nab a spot in the shade on what was a warm day in northern Italy, These branded towels still got plenty of use.
Porte rolls back to Team Sky's warm down area after the stage, in which the squad finished ninth, 27 seconds off the pace. "I think we were good today," said Porte. "Everyone was smooth and solid. We did a good job. The race is not going to be won [on stage one]. At the end of the day it's seconds now but it's going to be minutes in the end. You can get carried away during the whole first week about losing seconds. It's not ideal to lose time but it's not the end of the world."
Porte has enjoyed a stunning 2015 to date, winning the Paris-Nice, Volta ao Catalunya and Giro del Trentino stage races. His first victory of the season came at the Australian national time trial championships and the 30-year-old rides this custom Pinarello Bolide as a result.
Success to come
While Team Sky had mixed feelings about their result on day one, Elia Viviani (pictured right) would go on to claim stage two, beating Moreno Hofland (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) in the bunch sprint.
Caught on camera
Viviani's Pinarello Bolide was fitted with a Shimano Sport Camera for the team time trial. The 13-team Velon group (which Team Sky are part of) have signed a deal with Italian broadcaster RCS Sport to deliver on-bike footage from the Giro.
The Bianchi Aquila CV was unveiled ahead of the final time trial of the 2014 Tour de France and uses the Italian firm's comfort-boosting Countervail technology, first deployed on the Infinito CV 'endurance' bike. Countervail is a ‘vibration cancelling’ material developed by Materials Sciences Corporation and used exclusively – on bikes, at least – by Bianchi, placed in unspecified areas of the frame.
The team trial time is one of the toughest disciplines in cycling, requiring riders to produce a full-gas effort at the front, before getting just a few seconds recovery and then having to sprint back on to the train. LottoNL-Jumbo's Moreno Hofland produced an average power of 382 watts for the 20-minute effort, but the 1,097-watt maximum shows just how big the power spikes can be in a TTT.
While Team Sky's riders jumped on the turbo after the stage, most teams (including LottoNL-Jumbo, pictured here) took their road bikes to the finish and their riders rolled back to the hotel as a warm down.
What goes into a musette? Look for soft sandwiches and soft rice cakes
A Tinkoff-Saxo team helper marks each riders' initials on bottles made up with recovery drink, ready to pass on as soon as they arrived back at the end of the stage.
"I don't need recovery," a Giant-Alpecin rider tells a team helper at the end of the stage after being handed a bottle. "You need recovery," the helper barks back. The rider pauses and nods in agreement. "It was f*****g hot out there."
The vast majority of teams now use 25mm tyres and that goes for time trials, as well as road stages. Giant-Alpecin are sponsored by Vittoria, who supply the team with Corsa CX tubs.
Tom Boonen rolls back to the team bus on his Specialized Shiv. The Giro is Boonen's second race back after dislocating his shoulder in a crash at Paris-Nice and subsequently missing the Classics season.
Boonen's Specialized saddle has grip tape stitched in to the cover to lock the Belgian into place when putting the power down. Note the mark on Boonen's toptube, which lines up with the nose of the saddle.
Gianni Meersman's Specialized S-Works TT helmet rests on his bikes after the day's work. The helmet's 'Gill Vent' design is said to improve airflow and reduce drag.
A RaceWare mount holds the SRM Power Control 7 computer of Astana's Luis Leon Sanchez. RaceWare products are 3D printed in the UK.
The aggressive tube profiles of Canyon's Speedmax CF time trial bike mean there's no room for Campagnolo's cylindrical Super Record EPS internal battery, which is instead strapped to the downtube.
Orica-GreenEDGE's Scott Foil road bikes have had a new lick of paint for 2015, with last year's black, white and green combination replaced by this blue, black and white colourway, which we much prefer. This bike belongs to Michael Matthews, who would go on to take the pink leader's jersey from team-mate Simon Gerrans on stage two.
Take your pick
Lotto-Soudal riders have two primary bikes to choice from in stage races: the super-light Helium SL, pictured on the right here, and the Noah SL, which has an aero flavour and is on the left.
Light and aero
Ridley first introduced the aero Noah in 2011, with its integrated front and rear brakes, while the Noah SL was launched last year. It's essentially a toned down version of the Noah, sharing similar tube profiles but using conventional brake calipers. The weight has also dropped to a claimed 950g.
The Noah SL is the road bike of choice for Lotto-Soudal sprinter Andre Greipel, who would go on to finish third on stage two after opening up the sprint. The German national champion is nicknamed The Gorilla and gets this smart custom paintjob as a result.
Selle San Marco supply the saddles on LottoNL-Jumbo's Bianchi Oltre XR2 bikes but this rider clearly prefers a grippy Prologo Zero II TT CPC time trial saddle, even on his road machine.
The difference in budgets between WorldTour and ProContinental teams was evident at the team time trial. While all WorldTour teams had spare time trial bikes on the team car, some Nippo Vini Fantini riders had to 'make do' with their regular De Rosa Protos as a spare, but with a rear disc wheel.
LOOK and Shimano are by far the most common pedal suppliers in the peloton. Those teams and riders sponsored by LOOK normally use the Keo Blade 2 pedal pictured here.
Time pedals, on the other hand, are pretty rare, but the French firm does sponsor the Bardiani CSF team, one of four Italian ProContinental squads handed wildcard invites to the race. The Xpresso 12 was the flagship model, but has been recently replaced by the unfathomably light Xpresso 15 pedals, which weight just 140g for the pair.
Giro d'Italia 2015 - team time trial: LEO bike rack
Fact of the day: did you know a Belgian chap called Leo makes the custom bike racks for the majority of pro teams? The hand-built racks provide easy access to bikes from the team car.