For a while it almost looked like - after Discovery pulled out of cycling last year - that Trek may no longer be a familiar sight in the big races. After the last eight Tour de France races have been won aboard a Trek, the US bike company's lack of presence would be considered a shame.

That's not going to be the case though, as a deal struck at the last minute with the Astana team - itself going through a major shakeup following last year's doping revelations - will see Trek bikes on the start of this year's big races.

With two years of development time, the new production Madone sure packs some interesting features. The latest innovation is Net Molding, a process that shapes carbon fibre so precisely that subsequent machining isn't necessary. This is evident in the bottom bracket and head tube where in-moulded bearing faces aren't necessary. Instead the bearings can be placed directly onto the carbon, saving weight.

In a move similar to that already adopted by Cannondale and other companies for increased front end stiffness, the lower diameter of the steerer tube measures 1.5". The bottom bracket is also an area of expansion. Abandoning the traditional 68mm bottom bracket width shell Trek have adopted a 90mm wide shell to allow them to use a wider (74mm) down tube - Trek claim 48% higher lateral stiffness. To achieve this wider bottom bracket shell (without increasing the Q-factor), Net Molding and Precision Fit Sockets place the bearings directly into the frame. With fewer parts needed, it's also lighter.

Astana will be using stock Madone 6.9 Pro frames made from Trek's top-end 'Red' grade High Modulus OCLV Carbon, and fitted with a Bontrager XXX Lite full carbon fork with E2 steerer. The team will be shifting and braking with SRAM's RED groupset, Bontrager components for all the important contact points, and Bontrager Aeolus OCLV and XXX-Lite OCLV wheelsets.

We're sure many of you will be keen to get your hands on an official Astana replica, but Trek haven't confirmed whether one will be available. You can however purchase a virtually identical bike in the form of the Shimano Dura-Ace equipped 6.9 Pro for £5,000.

The team has been making its public debut in the Tour Down Under.

Team Astana have launched a new website at More about Trek at