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Tour de France 2017–The Trainers, Power Meters and Gadgets of the Pro Peloton

TdF2017-Tracker

How quickly the 2017 season is moving forward.  Back at the Tour Down Under doesn’t seem all that long ago, neither does the Giro d’Italia – yet it’s been almost two months since I was there.  Still, it’s always interesting to check-in on the moving and shaking of tech gear within the Pro Peloton, especially when you get to find totally new products floating around the team areas.

Today’s first stage of the Tour de France was an individual time trial stage.  While only 14KM in length, it was quite the feat for many with the rain and slick conditions.  That meant teams were doing more than just being careful, but also tweaking gear too – such as tires to the weather.  But for most of the sports tech stuff I track, the weather didn’t matter much.  So onwards I went, trying to inventory it all.

Note that there are often slight variations between the TT and road setups.  Side note: Virtually every team refers to the ‘road’ setup as their ‘race bikes’, whereas the TT setup is their…’TT bikes’. Kinda a funny distinction since almost everyone else would refer to them as road and TT.  In any event, the point I was making was that we do often see slight variations often due to compatibility reasons.  This is especially true of mounts.

Another good example here being that Team Katusha is riding the Quarq RED power meter for their TT setup, but using the newer DZero for their road bikes.  I’m sure there will be others in this realm.  Given the first day of the tour was a TT day, it was mostly TT bikes out.  However, most teams also had their road bikes out for a portion of the day – so I inventoried as best as possible.  Tomorrow it’s back to road bikes, so I’ll be on the lookout for any notable discrepancies.

Power Meters

TdF2017-PowerMeters

Now in a lot of ways very little has changed since about 6 weeks ago at the Giro d’Italia.  After all, UCI WorldTour teams tend to lock things down early in the season (usually around January or so), and then stick with them.  Sometimes you get some little teaser items here or there, often in the 2nd week of the Tour.  That’s when companies like to get your interest back and slip out a single rider on a new piece of gear.

But honestly, I don’t expect that this year.  Mostly because I don’t expect any of the teams that have mainstream sponsors to release new products this year.  Everyone was too busy last year and into this winter.

Still, since the Giro d’Italia was in Italy – it largely featured Italian teams as the Continental teams (non-WorldTour additions to the race).  So, in that case, we got to see some more unique setups like bePro being present.  But the Tour de France picks its own set of Continental teams, three French and one Belgium.  So we’ve got different teams to poke into.

Like I said at the Giro regarding power meter brands, is to keep in mind that one thing all power meter companies are trying to do is establish credibility (newer players), or maintain creditability (some existing players).  For long term power meter companies like Quarq and PowerTap, there’s little reason to deal with the hassle and overhead of a pro team.  Athletes know their power meters are solid, and their name is well known.  And the same is true of SRM, but I think the tables are slightly different there.  In their case, they’re looking to maintain their name in the news (like this very post). So it’s not so much a case of maintaining creditability, but instead maintaining brand awareness and thus your interest.

(Pro Tip: I rounded up my thoughts on each power meter brand in that post, linked to the exact section here).

At the WorldTour level, it’s very rarely about what’s ‘best’.  It’s just about the money. Which is what it is, cycling is a business after all.  And it’s a business that heavily revolves around gear.  With that, here’s the table of where things stood:

Tour de France 2017 Power Meters

TeamPower meter
AG2R La MondialeSRM (fully SRM Branded)
AstanaPower2Max Type-S
Bahrain-MeridaSRM (fully SRM Branded)
BMC Racing TeamSRM
Bora-Hansgrohe4iiii (dual left/right)
Cannondale-DrapacSRM (Canondale variant)
Team Dimension DataRotor 2INPower (except Mark Cavendish)
FDJSRM
Team Katusha-AlpecinQuarq DZero for Road, RED for TT
LottoNL-JumboPioneer
Lotto-SoudalSRM
Movistar TeamPower2Max NG (Road) Type-S (TT)
Orica-ScottSRM
Quick-Step Floors4iiii (dual left/right)
Team SkyStages (dual left/right)
Team SunwebShimano (most Road) Pioneer (TT)
Trek-SegafredoSRM
UAE Team EmiratesPower2Max NG (Road) Type-S (TT)
CofidisSRM
Direct ÉnergiePower2Max Type-S
Fortuneo–OscaroLook Pedal Power Meter
Wanty–Groupe GobertStages (left-only)

One notable item is that both LottoNL-Jumbo and Team Quick-Step Floors had some bikes on the newer Shimano DuraAce FC-R9100 cranksets.  That in and of itself isn’t a big deal, but what’s more interesting is that both teams had their respective power meters (4iiii for Quick-Step, and Pioneer for LottoNL-Jumbo) also with new updated units.  Similarly, we saw the same for Team Sky and Stages. In the case of 4iiii, they just announced their FC-R9100 setup started sales on Friday.

TdF2017-Quick-Step-4iiii-NewPower DSC_6095

And here’s your pile of power meter imagery goodness.  You can hover over any given picture to see the team name:

Phew!

Now it’s time to spin over to trainers, cause we’ve got some neat stuff there.

Trainers:

TdF2017-Elitetrainer

Well there, would you look at that.  Someone new is out playing in the sun…err…rain at the Tour de France.  This unannounced Elite trainer in use by Team FDJ is obviously direct drive.  The real question is what the exact price and specs will be.  Given Elite has plenty of direct drive trainers in their stable, what matters these days is how much, how accurate, max inclines/wattages, and what other goodies it’ll have.

For that, you’re gonna have to wait.

Not long, but a little while.

I’d strongly suggest checking back here around sunrise Paris time on Monday (Update: Here’s the post on it.)

As for the rest of the teams, they were, as is usually the case – dominated by Elite and Tacx.  There was one team each on CycleOps and Wahoo.  As I’ve said in the past, this is largely the result of the many European focused team sponsorships for other bike parts – notably water bottles and water bottle cages, which Elite and Tacx also dominate.  More like obliterate.

Tour de France 2017 Trainers

TeamTrainer
AG2R La MondialeElite
AstanaTacx Neo
Bahrain-MeridaElite Drivo
BMC Racing TeamElite Drivo
Bora-HansgroheTacx Neo
Cannondale-DrapacTacx Neo
Team Dimension DataTacx Neo
FDJElite Unannounced Trainer
Team Katusha-AlpecinTacx Neo
LottoNL-JumboTacx Neo
Lotto-SoudalTacx Neo
Movistar TeamElite
Orica-ScottElite
Quick-Step FloorsTacx Neo
Team SkyWahoo KICKR2
Team SunwebElite Drivo
Trek-SegafredoCycleops (Hammer+Others)
UAE Team EmiratesElite
CofidisTacx Neo
Direct ÉnergieTacx Neo
Fortuneo–OscaroElite
Wanty–Groupe GobertTacx blend

There’s very little surprises here compared to the Giro (none actually), though the theme for both Tacx and Elite was to continue equipping their teams with the higher-end trainers (Elite Drivo and Tacx Neo).  Though all teams do have a small pile of much lighter trainers to use away from the bus (warm-up at TT starting shacks, cool-down at the finish for podium winners).  Though, someone did drag a Tacx Neo all the way down to the starting shack.  I can’t overstate how impressive that is.  That’s a beast of a trainer, and it almost certainly wasn’t moved by car (traffic flow direction would have made that near impossible).

TdF2017-TrainersLeftAlone

DSC_6077

And here’s a look at all the units on-hand.  Again, hover over image for team name:

As I noted previously/elsewhere, I don’t expect major movement in the trainer realm this summer/fall/year.  Some minor/moderate announcements, but nothing like the craziness of last year.

Mounting it up:

Mounts-Sky

I’m not sure why I find the mount situations interesting, but I figured I’d include it as I’ve done recently.  There’s definitely a significant preference for K-Edge when a 3rd party mount is used.  Whether that’s due to K-Edge just providing them, or teams actively going out and buying them I’m not sure.  I suspect some of it helps that K-Edge as a brand came from the pro cycling ranks, so there may be some behind the scenes connections that help.

Still, I did see far more BarFly mounts than I’ve ever seen before out there today, primarily in the TT configuration.  And to be fair – BarFly makes a really nice and compact TT bike mount.  It’s what I use on my TT bike.  It’s slim, lightweight, and you don’t really need the machined aluminum if you’re not placing an action cam on it.

Here’s the lineup:

Tour de France 2017 Mounts

TeamComputer MountBike Computer
AG2R La MondialeStockSRM
AstanaK-EdgeGarmin
Bahrain-MeridaK-EdgeSRM PC8
BMC Racing TeamStockSRM
Bora-HansgroheK-EdgeGarmin
Cannondale-DrapacStock/BarflyGarmin
Team Dimension DataStockGarmin/Edge 1000
FDJZipp blacked outGarmin/Edge 1000
Team Katusha-AlpecinBlendGarmin
LottoNL-JumboStockPioneer
Lotto-SoudalK-EdgeSRM PC8
Movistar TeamSRAM TT MountGarmin
Orica-ScottK-EdgeSRM PC8
Quick-Step FloorsK-EdgeGarmin
Team SkyK-EdgeGarmin/Edge 820 & 520
Team SunwebStockGiant NeosTrack
Trek-SegafredoStockSRM PC8
UAE Team EmiratesBarflyGarmin
CofidisStockSRM
Direct ÉnergieStock/BarflyGarmin
Fortuneo–OscaroBlendGarmin
Wanty–Groupe GobertBlendGarmin & Polar

And here’s the gallery.  Note though that I expect things to be different tomorrow at Stage 2 with regular road bikes.  That’s where you’ll often find teams will just default back to stock/default mounts, since they didn’t have to go out and get something unique for the TT bike.  I’ll update the table accordingly after the stage.

What about the bike computers that go in them?  Well, that continues to be really tricky to count – for the simple reason that most riders hold onto their own bike computers, and thus they aren’t sitting on bikes until the rider is too.  So short of sitting at the starting shack for 3 hours to watch every rider go by – it’s tough to be 100% certain here.

However, the overwhelming trend was Garmin Edge units (a blend of Garmin sponsored teams and random purchases), along with SRM PC8 head units (mostly by SRM sponsored teams).  Plus a few outliers like Pioneer head units on Pioneer sponsored team Lotto-Jumbo, and Giant’s head unit on their sponsored team, Team Sunweb.

This is an area that’s actually a bit easier to nail-down tomorrow, since riders tend to sign-in on the board pretty heavily grouped together.

Shifting:

Power-QuickStep

There wasn’t any big…shift…here since the Giro – it’s still dominated by Shimano and Di2.

As I noted then though, keep in mind that’s largely driven by sponsorships.  A few years ago SRAM worked hard at the launch of eTAP to have huge numbers of teams on the wireless SRAM RED eTAP, likely to drive adoption and confidence in the product.  These days it more than sells itself, and likely believes there’s little reason to waste money there.  So here’s the lineup:

Tour de France 2017 Shifting

TeamShifting
AG2R La MondialeShimano Di2
AstanaShimano Di2
Bahrain-MeridaShimano Di2
BMC Racing TeamShimano Di2
Bora-HansgroheShimano Di2
Cannondale-DrapacShimano Di2
Team Dimension DataShimano Di2
FDJShimano Di2
Team Katusha-AlpecinSRAM eTAP
LottoNL-JumboShimano Di2
Lotto-SoudalCampagnolo EPS
Movistar TeamCampagnolo EPS & Mechanical on TT
Orica-ScottShimano Di2
Quick-Step FloorsShimano Di2
Team SkyShimano Di2
Team SunwebShimano Di2
Trek-SegafredoShimano Di2
UAE Team EmiratesCampagnolo EPS
CofidisShimano Di2
Direct ÉnergieShimano Di2
Fortuneo–OscaroSRAM eTAP
Wanty–Groupe GobertShimano Di2

I’m not bothering to include a secondary photo gallery of just the shifting, since the power meter gallery tends to include the derailleurs of all bikes in them, and thus a way to confirm each one.

Other Notables:

DSC_5622

I didn’t see as much unique gadgety stuff out there today as I might have in the past.  Part of that may be because it’s the first day of the Tour, so it’s more about stock stuff and ensuring partners/sponsors see all the latest/greatest.  Whereas we often see companies ‘play’ a bit more in the 2nd and 3rd weeks.

Also, the reality is that the weather just sucked.  Like, miserable.  So things that may be less stable may have been kept out of the rain, or only briefly visible.  With the team bus area spanning about a mile in length, no amount of my 14 miles of walking today could capture every device that popped out for just a few moments.

I did note that Trek didn’t use the Bontrager lights on any bikes I saw, unlike at the Giro.  However, in place of it was that every bike at the Tour had a GPS tracker on it, which is part of the device sticking out the rear/tail.  I’m going to hopefully do a more detailed piece on that down the road. In the meantime, this explains it a bit.

TdF2017-Tracker

Finally, the Velon folks alongside GoPro were out there placing cameras on various bikes, as they often do.  These were all GoPro Hero5 Session cameras on the bikes from what I saw.

TdF2017-GoProHeroCannondale

DSC_5976

Though some GoPro folks were shooting with Hero5 Black cameras on both Karma Grip gimbals as well as the El Grande poles.

DSC_6309

I asked some of the Velon folks if they planned to use the GoPro Fusion 360° camera anywhere in testing at the Tour.  They said no, but honestly, I don’t believe that.  Plus, Velon and GoPro are technically separate (though work closely together here).  I suspect we’ll see GoPro place it on some stages – as anything else would be a major lost opportunity for footage.  And GoPro has a very solid history of putting together some spectacular edits from the Tour in past years.

With that, I’ll wrap up this gear post.  I’ve got a separate post detailing more of the behind the scenes pieces coming up shortly though, with less focus on tech, and more on the unique quirks of Le Tour.  Those following on Twitter today saw a bit of a peek at that!

Thanks for reading!

Headed to the Tour de France? Check out my TdF spectating guide. Not that lucky this year? Have fun looking behind the scenes in my post TdF posts!

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47 Comments

  1. Aldo

    Well, looking at one of your pictures, seems like there a “Direto Interactive Power Meter” name in that Elite trainer, whatever that would mean in the final product.

  2. David Chrisman

    What PM did Cavendish have on his bike?

    • SRM. Though I was never able to confirm his TT bike had SRM on it. The information came from his own tweet showing an SRM-equipped bike as his new steed: link to twitter.com

      Sometimes you’d see slight differences between TT & Road configs in this type of case.

  3. Nathan J. Carter

    Yesterday, some of the guys were wearing something what looked like boxes under their shirts, in the upper part of their back. Does anyone know what these boxes are? Battery packs for wireless transmitters maybe? I can’t think of anything useful during a 20 minutes time trial …

  4. Ben Kochie

    “Road bike” vis “Race bike” seems to be a common term used in continental Europe. This is very true for Germany. Germans will always refer to anything with drop bars as a “race bike”.

    • Thomas

      Because race bike is the literal translation of how it is called in many European languages (“Rennrad” in German, “bici da corsa” in Italian, “koersfiets” and “racefiets” in Dutch, for instance). It also seems less ambiguous, since there are many road-focused bikes which are anything but a road bike.

    • Further to the above comments, “Road” is a UCi discipline that includes both Individual Time Trial and Road Race (mass start) events. Based on that criteria, it could be called either a road bike or race bike. But of course, “road bike” (the drop bar kind) is simply a contraction of “road race bike”. Therefore race bike seems more appropriate. (My city bike is also a road bike, FWIW.) In North America, they used to be called Racing Bikes, until Mountain Bikes (which was a popular race sport in it’s early years) gained popularity. After that, road bike became a more common term to distinguish them from MTB bike.

  5. Martin

    Why do all teams use the old POWER2MAX TYPE-S and not the new NG?
    So I’d rather buy the cheap old one..?

    • Funny you’d ask…

      So today, with road bikes, things were switched around. Teams that were on Type-S yesterday were mostly on NG’s today. I’ll be adding in a new table/pics a little later today with them.

      In talking to Power2Max about it today, they said the teams weren’t able to finish building up the TT bikes with the NG units.

  6. yancey

    The following website suggests that some FDJ and Sunweb bikes will be on production quality Shimano PMs. link to roadcyclinguk.com

    • Yup, they were indeed partially today (Stage 2), but not on Stage 1 on TT bikes.

      I counted five of their bikes were on Shimano PM’s, two on Pioneer, and one sans-power. I’ve got pics and stuff I’ll add in later today.

  7. TonyRogalik

    OK, now when you wrote a post about all the gadgets and accessories used during the Grand Tour, could you also tell me what’s that blue thing with number on it, that’s mounted on a left chainstay? I saw it on almost all bikes and it’s also on your photos, like here: link to media.dcrainmaker.com

  8. Fabian

    In these days i’m collecting a lot of info about high end trainer ’cause i’m going to replace my lemond (love it but i need something smarter).
    i was going to buy the drivo but, at this point i’m going to wait but it seem strange that this will be the new top trainer from elite…drivo is rather new. I expected a new high end trainer from tacx since neo is older than drivo and kickr.

  9. Bruce Burkhalter

    Given how aero they try to get for the TT, any concerns from teams/riders about having to mount a Session on the bike? Don’t know if it makes a relevant aero difference. Wonder if there is a psychological effect.

    • It’s actually one of the things I tested in the Specialized Wind Tunnel a while back. Turns out it’s a very aero camera.

      That said, you typically don’t see major stage contenders using it on the TT stages.

  10. Matthew

    Hi,

    A few weeks ago I asked K-Edge if they had plans for a mount that would mount on the stem bolts, for a ‘cleaner’ look.

    Although they could not confirm this, they did say to look at the Sky team bikes at the TdF, as they would release something new. Any sign of this?

  11. Cam

    Ray if you’re looking for blog ideas, i’d love to see a post on race radios. Would be great to hear what the pro teams are using and then what’s available for retail riders who train in pairs/teams and want to stay in contact when separated….

  12. Ronald

    Can you also give an overview of the shoecleats used by the pro’s?

  13. Peter B

    Next question. The blue ball thingy that the chain runs through on the first pic under the Shifting headline (In the mechanics hand on a Di2 equipped spesh). What on earth is that?

  14. Nathan B

    I do find it odd that Sky aren’t using the Wahoo Bolt.

    When it was announced that it was the “most aero” bike computer, it seemed like they had made it especially for Sky and their “marginal gains” philosophy.

    Especially considering they’re using Wahoo trainers.

    I know that all of their data would be in Garmin Connect, but I think they’re sponsored to Today’s Plan, so it should all just feed into this anyway.

    • There’s a lot of politics to the decision, and almost nothing has to do with the most aero tech.

      They’ve been pushing Wahoo to add in a bunch of features they want, mostly behind the scenes things that are more useful for teams (some I actually want too). By using another head unit, they maintain that leverage to get Wahoo to add them.

    • Matthew

      No odd at all.

      Although the Wahoo Bolt might be aero, etc, and easy to use, in terms of training data its not very good. Its nice ‘toy’ for recreational riders, but for serious data it just does not work.

      I used the Wahoo Elemnt for 6 months, and although I loved the functionality, training wise it just wasnt there.

    • Matthew

      Exactly,

      They are ‘behind’ technologically

      M

    • Hmm, I’m curious – what exactly serious training data is missing? Or how are they ‘behind’ technologically?

    • Matthew

      Their NP readings were wrong for a really long time, but even after it was fixed, not always reliable.

      TSS was off, but I guess it was result of the above.

      No ability to create workouts

      Di2 gears only displayed as chart, or and no gear ratio options

      etc etc etc

    • Matthew

      ohhh yes,

      and on a less ‘serious’ note, Strava segments we misleading. It wasnt showing point-to-point progression through a segment, just average progression. This only made it useful if the gradient of a segment was perfectly uniform……

    • Not to push a bit more, but what’s actually etc/etc/etc?

      I haven’t looked recently to see if my NP/TSS readings match across the board – but I haven’t heard of others complaining about it these days. I also just checked the ELEMNT forum and don’t see any recent complaints either.

      No workouts is definitely a gap, though I haven’t really heard of any pro teams actually using Di2 data mid-ride to check gear ratios.

    • RE: Strava Segments

      They changed this behavior in a firmware update in early June. Details on how it works now here: link to dcrainmaker.com

  15. Matthew

    Yes, what i am saying is from late 2016 when I gave up hope.

    Di2 gear ratios is useful while riding when shifting between large and small chainring, however syncro shift took care of this too actually.

  16. Michael Swann

    Spotted the Polar M460 on the bike of Gillaume Van Keirsbulck on yesterday’s stage of Le Tour.