The Tour de France Stage 17 mountain time-trial gave the riders a dilemma – what type of bike to use.

Most started off on the compromise of a road bike with bolt-on tribars – less weight for the climbs and better handling for the descents, but a reasonable aero position for the bits of flat road and the sections of straight descent.

However, a lot of the GC riders swapped to full TT bikes for the fast and rather less technical descent to the finish.

There were some very neat solutions to the problems of creating a hybrid road/TT bike – and there were some that were a great deal less so. Not to mention all the other interesting kit on display round the team busses. So we took a few sneaky phone photos.

The good old adjustable stem makes an appearance at Garmin – it’s so they can get a low enough position on an aero road-bike (the Cervelo S5). Scores moderately for elegance – it’s let down by the electrical tape holding on the arm rests.

Saxo-Tinkoff road bike (Specialized Venge) with longish extensions – suggesting the rider has moved down a frame-size to keep a closer approximation to their regular TT position. Chris Froome did the same thing.

A much sorter pair of tribars at Cannondale – in the true triathlete style they don’t extend beyond the brake levers. Marks for simplicity, but it’s very hard to get comfortable in anything approaching a optimum aero position for any length of time. For riders with an attacking style only.

Low on elegance and off the scale on the ‘yikes’ meter, Argos-Shimano’s skinsuits are, unhappily for all concerned, thin, white and, often as not, wet. When Marcel Kittel emerged in his, small children ran screaming. Rapidly followed by everyone else.

Tony Martin (Omega-Pharma Quickstep) warming up in an ice-vest to keep his core temperature down, as well as a nifty set of ice bracelets. Top marks for the old-school cycling cap too.

Another Garmin road bike – this time the bars are off the Cervelo P5 TT rig, modified a little to fit the different frame. Elegant, but perhaps of dubious legality, because some officials might feel that the stem’s top section constitutes a fairing.

On the subject of rules, the commissaires had this delightful Fisher-Price bike-measuring device. It’s obvious where the chainset lines up, but the hermeneutics of the rest of it requires a deeper understanding of the regulations than most normal people would want to have.

Andy Schleck keeps his phone in a sandwich bag to avoid getting sweat on it. Zero for elegance, and minus a few more for the leather headphones. Pulls it back a little by having the race frame-number behind the headtube where God intended (rather than slapped behind the seat tube), then blows it all on the funny-looking light blue bike.

Tom Dumoulin wearing the tail-less version of the Argos-Shimano Uvex helmet. There are quite a few of this variety of lid around now – most of them modelled to greater or lesser extents on the Sky and Garmin short-tailed helmets from Kask and Giro. Uvex. And yes, despite the skinsuit having dried a little on the ride to the start, you could still read the washing instructions label through it.

This is a photo of a Belkin mechanic using a hacksaw to shorten a pair of tribars while the rider is already warming up. A few seconds later the rider gave a yelp and a curse, and started sucking his finger while glaring at the mechanic. It was all but impossible to figure out what happened.

Belkin again – they had these rather splendid fans that both blow wind and spray cooling water at the riders as they warm up. Oddly, no one else had anything remotely resembling them. They’re probably an accessory stolen from a wet-t shirt competition.

Tour de France 2013: Stage reports



Stage 17: Froome wins third 2013 Tour stage



Stage 16: Costa takes solo win as Froome put under pressure



Stage 15: Froome wins on Mont Ventoux to extend lead



Stage 14: Trentin wins from break



Stage 13: Cavendish wins, Valverde loses on stage 13



Stage 12: Kittel out-sprints Cavendish



Stage 11: Martin wins time trial as Froome extends lead



Stage 10: Kittel takes second stage win



Stage nine: Martin wins stage as Froome fights to keep lead



Stage eight: Froome wins Tour mountains stage to take overall lead



Stage seven: Sagan scores first win of 2013 Tour



Stage six: Greipel wins as Impey moves into lead



Stage five: Cavendish wins; Gerrans keeps lead



Stage four: Orica win Tour’s team time trial to put Gerrans in yellow



Stage three: Gerrans outpaces Sagan to take win



Stage two: Millar denied yellow as Bakelants takes spoils



Stage one: Kittel wins chaotic opening stage

Tour de France 2013: Podcasts



Podcast 13 (Stage 16)



Podcast 12 (stage 15)



Podcast 11 (Stage 14)



Podcast 10 (stage 13)



Podcast nine (stage 12)



Pedcast eight (stage 11)



Podcast seven (stage 10)



Podcast six (stage nine)



Podcast five (stage eight)



Podcast four (stage six)



Podcast three (stage five)



Podcast two (stage four)



Podcast one (stage one)

Tour de France 2013: Comment, analysis, blogs



Moto blog part two (July 15)



Moto blog part one (July 9)



Lessons learnt by Team Sky after Tour visits Pyrenees



Was Sunday (stage nine) a missed opportunity for Froome’s rivals?



Rest day review (July 8)



Tour de France: 100 Tours, 1,000 stories

Tour de France 2013: Photo galleries

Stage 17 by Graham Watson

Stage 16 by Graham Watson

Stage 15 by Graham Watson

Stage 14 by Graham Watson

Stage 13 by Graham Watson

Stage 12 by Graham Watson

Stage 11 by Graham Watson

Stage 10 by Graham Watson

Stage nine by Andy Jones

Stage nine by Graham Watson

Stage eight by Andy Jones

Stage eight by Graham Watson

Stage seven by Andy Jones

Stage seven by Graham Watson

Stage six by Andy Jones

Stage six by Graham Watson

Stage five by Andy Jones

Stage five by Graham Watson

Stage four by Andy Jones

Stage four by Graham Watson

Stage three by Graham Watson

Stage two by Graham Watson

Stage one by Graham Watson

Team presentation by Graham Watson

 

  • Graham

    Is there any reason none of the riders use a full TT rig with the bars swapped for drops? You’d get a good aero position due to frame geometry and similar handling to a road bike. I’d love to know if anyone has ever tried it.