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Tour Down Under 2018: Sports Tech Gear Of the Pro Men

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The Tour Down Under represents the first race of the UCI WorldTour season, and as such, establishes what we’ll see in terms of equipment as the baseline for most tech on the teams this year.

The men kicked off their festivities down here on Sunday with the People’s Choice criterium, but the actual Tour Down Under Stage 1 didn’t begin till today (Tuesday).  The ladies meanwhile actually finished Sunday, after racing over the past week.  That was a bit of a departure from the past where the men and women race on concurrent days, albeit different routes.  With the shift in timelines this year, it meant that most media wouldn’t be in town for the majority of the women’s racing, a definite disappointment.  In my case, it meant I was coming from CES (Consumer Electronics Show), and landed right as the women finished. Still, through some help from those in the area, I’ve got a women’s tech post slated for tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Note that I’m mainly focused on sports tech goodness, more than bike frames and wheels and such.  Those areas are just a bit outside my focus.  However, I’ve included whole-bike pics in virtually all team sections, so it makes it pretty easy to identify those parts.

This year we’ve got a few little new tidbits in the mix – mostly in the power meter realm, including some unannounced products.  But more on that down below!

A Brief Note on Sponsorships:

It’s important to remember that in almost every case below, the power meter brands are sponsoring either teams or individual athletes.  Same goes for shifting technologies.  About the only exception are head units, though even some of those are sponsored (I.e. via SRM or Pioneer deals for power meters, head units come along).

Given the very nature of sponsorship is showing off one’s brand for payment (or free equipment), it shouldn’t be assumed that any product is inherently ‘better’ because a WorldTour team is riding it.  Instead, it’s just there because they were paid to ride it.  You’ll see power meter brands change year after year with the wind (or the payment as it may be).  You’ll also see cases where a brand may be sponsoring a team, but the team isn’t actually riding the commercially available product.  For example – two teams here are riding a Specialized power meter, a product that is not available for purchase to consumers (nor has Specialized even confirmed they’re making a power meter).

The point being – look at these products as “Oh, that’s interesting”, more than “Oh, I should immediately go out and buy this product because X rider is on it.” Make sense?  Good.

The Teams:

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We’ll get right into things.  Note that as with the women’s teams, there are occasions where not all riders will be on the same exact config, a little bit in power meters and definitely in bike computers.  Bike frames, of course, are almost always identical due to team sponsorships, but bike computers aren’t often covered by team sponsorships.

Also, in some cases, there may be teams with prototype products in use, in which case only a single rider or two may be using that – and in some cases only for just a day or two.  Meaning that while this list may be valid for Day 1 of the Tour Down Under, there are numerous examples where a team might sneak in a prototype product on just a single rider on Day 3 or Day 5.  That’s often the case in the Tour de France where you’ll see companies trial prototype products in the last week or so of the race, partially to re-ignite media interest, and partially because it may not impact the standings any longer.

In order to ‘combat’ that a little bit, I took inventory yesterday during the rest day at the team village.  However, many hidden tech bits can be easily off bikes or hidden.  So I re-swept all the actual race day bikes this morning at Stage 1.  And certainly, I’ll keep my eyes out for new sports tech each day at the starting line.

The Teams:

Next, we’ve got all the teams individually listed, with the specific details and tech notes on each.  Note that teams are simply listed in the order (and spelling/capitalization) of the official media program.  With that, let’s begin!

BMC RACING TEAM

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Power Meters: Shimano R9100P
Head Units: Garmin Edge 820
Head Unit Mount: BMC
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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This is the first team on the list, and with it you’ll start to notice a pattern at how impactful the Shimano components sponsorships have been in the power meter realm.  It’s also a good time to note that while we’re seeing a significant shift towards teams running Shimano power, that isn’t carrying over to the consumer realm (virtually non-existent).  This is likely for two reasons: A) It’s still nearly impossible to get a Shimano power meter, and B) The pricing isn’t competitive at this point.

Outside of the power realm, note on this bike the Di2 battery status integrated into the stem (below that is the rest of the Di2 junction box). Pretty darn slick.

BORA-hansgrohe

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Power Meters: Specialized Unannounced Power Meter
Head Units: Wahoo ELEMNT
Head Unit Mount: K-Edge
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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This is probably one of the more interesting combos out there.  It appears to be some sort of hybrid 4iiii model that may be rebranded as a Specialized unit.  The drive-side appears mostly like a stock 4iiii unit, whereas the non-drive side is a totally different looking pod from what we’ve seen on the 4iiii stock.  At the TDU there were actually two different variants seen on bikes.  One was a non-drive side (left side) pod that looks very much like a 4iiii unit.  While on most bikes it was a sleeker looking pod, unseen before on 4iiii.  When looking for details, the Team, Specialized, and 4iiii all declined to comment publically on details.  Note that previously the team has ridden 4iiii units, so this wouldn’t be much of a change in platform for them.

Mitchelton-SCOTT

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Power Meters: Shimano R9100P
Head Units: Garmin Edge 520
Head Unit Mount: Garmin
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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Note that the team is in the process of switching from SRM to Shimano power meters, and as such you may see some photos with SRM units still on most bikes as the team didn’t bring their final 2018 bikes to the Tour Down under.  The above bike is really the only one with a Shimano power meter.

LOTTO-SOUDAL

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Power Meters: SRM
Head Units: SRM PC8
Head Unit Mount: SRM stock mounts
Shifting: Campagnolo EPS

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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Power Meters: Power2Max NG
Head Units: Garmin (varied)
Head Unit Mount: Garmin stock mounts
Shifting: Campagnolo EPS

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As is the case on many pro cycling teams, the riders here selected their own Garmin head units.  Thus the varied aspect listed.

TEAM DIMENSION DATA

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Power Meters: ROTOR 2Inpower
Head Units: Garmin Edge 820
Head Unit Mount: ENVE
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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When it comes to the changing winds of the power meter world of the pro peloton, ROTOR has probably taken one of the biggest hits due to the incoming Shimano power meter. Which is somewhat unfortunate in that over the last few years, the ROTOR lineup has actually improved quite notably in terms of models and such.  But as I noted above, the pro bikes are all about sponsorships.

BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM

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Power Meters: SRM
Head Units: SRM PC8
Head Unit Mount: Beastly custom SRM mount
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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Not gonna lie, the gold casing on the SRM PC8 for Team Bahrain really just sings with their entire bike and kit design.  But man, look at that hunk of metal they machined to attach it to those Vision bars!

TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC p/b CANNONDALE

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Power Meters: SRM
Head Units: Garmin
Head Unit Mount: Garmin
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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Note that the title for this team would be even longer if they didn’t abbreviate ‘Powered By’ with p/b.

TEAM SUNWEB

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Power Meters: Shimano R9100P
Head Units: Sigma Rox 11 GPS
Head Unit Mount: Sigma Rox
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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This is the only team using Sigma Rox GPS units.  They shifted from using Giant Neotrack GPS units last year, which were simply re-branded Bryton units.  Also of note is that Giant did equip these bikes with Ridesense dual ANT+/BLE speed/cadence sensors incorporated into the rear of the frame.

AG2R LA MONDIALE

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Power Meters: SRM
Head Units: SRM
Head Unit Mount: SRM
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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ASTANA PRO TEAM

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Power Meters: Power2Max Type-S
Head Units: Garmin Edge 1030
Head Unit Mount: Vision
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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Kinda interesting that they’re running the older Type-S, given that the NG units came out more than 18 months ago.  On the flip side, that’s countered with running the newer Edge 1030.

KATUSHA-ALPECIN

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Power Meters: Quarq RED
Head Units: Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT
Head Unit Mount: K-Edge
Shifting: SRAM RED eTAP

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It’s the last team on SRAM RED eTAP shifting.  This is quite a shift (no pun intended) from just a few years ago when SRAM had more than half the pro peloton.  Of course, that was also tied to the launch of the product (the lead-up specifically).  At this point, they see little marketing value in spending the significant capital required to equip so many pro teams to prove what everyone already knows: Their wireless shifting works just fine and dandy, even for pros.  By keeping a single team sponsored, they can basically still say “Good enough for the Tour de France”, or fill in the name of other pro tour event/rider.

Team FDJ

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Power Meters: Shimano R9100P
Head Units: Garmin
Head Unit Mount: Garmin (stock)
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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Power Meters: Power2Max NG
Head Units: Garmin Edge 1030
Head Unit Mount: Custom Garmin Mount
Shifting: Campagnolo EPS

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What’s notable is that Team Movistar equips both the men and women with identical bike setups, which is pretty cool (and somewhat unique).  Also of note is that both men and women use Garmin Edge 1030’s across the board.

QUICK-STEP FLOORS

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Power Meters: 4iiii Precision (dual and singular) & Specialized (dual Left/Right)
Head Units: Garmin
Head Unit Mount: Custom & K-Edge
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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Quick-Step is sporting a bit of a blend between 4iiii Precision and Specialized units, which again, is somewhat logical if they are effectively one and the same.  More on that in a bit of a dedicated post later today (Update: Details here).

TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO

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Power Meters: Pioneer
Head Units: Pioneer
Head Unit Mount: Pioneer stock
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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TEAM SKY

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Power Meters: Stages LR (dual left/right variant)
Head Units: Garmin (varied by rider)
Head Unit Mount: K-Edge
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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Note that there’s been some talk recently about whether Stages will continue to be the provider of power meters for Team Sky.  Technically speaking, the contract with Team Sky/Stages is non-exclusive in nature, and Shimano has recently stated they too will be providing their Shimano R9100P power meters to Team Sky.  However, as of this morning (and yesterday), there were no Team Sky bikes at the Tour Down Under with Shimano power meters.  Instead, all bikes were equipped with the latest Stages LR dual units (as they have been for a few years now).

TREK-SEGAFREDO

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Power Meters: Shimano R9100P
Head Units: Garmin Edge 820
Head Unit Mount: Bontrager
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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Note that Trek-Segafredo is also running Bontrager smart lights during all training rides (previously they also used them during racing, but not this year).  Those lights connect via ANT+ to their Garmin units.

TEAM UNISA-AUSTRALIA

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Power Meters: Up to individual riders (previously Pioneer)
Head Units: Varies/Pioneer
Head Unit Mount: Varies/Pioneer
Shifting: Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting

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Note that Team UNISA is one of the local (to Australia) invitees for the Tour Down Under, and as such isn’t a full UCI WorldTour Team.  Also note that their previous power meter sponsor (Pioneer) lapsed this past year, and now it’s up to individual riders which power meter and head units they’ll use.  For many of the bikes at the Tour Down under that’ll be Pioneer this week, but that won’t likely be the case going forward as riders choose their own head units and power meters based on various other sponsorships.

Wrap-Up:

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As with most years, these units will stand as the power meters and gear of record on these teams for the remainder of the season.  Sometimes you might see some minor fluctuations around the April-May timeframe, if new models come out (I.e. in the past ROTOR introduced new models then, and pro teams moved over to them by June-ish).  Alternatively, with teams like Team Sky that may have non-exclusive agreements with vendors, we could see some swappages here and there as well.  But otherwise, this should be considered final for the 2018 season.

With that – thanks for reading, and I’m looking forward to sharing more Tour Down Under tech goodness over the coming days!

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32 Comments

  1. MattB

    I thought Stages LR was now scheduled for a public release (though slipped from their late Autumn date as per your round up in August last year)? Copy/paste error from last year?

  2. Nate

    The type-A(ero) triathlete in me is so bothered by all of those unsightly di2 junction boxes on the undersides of the stem.

  3. ReHMn

    …interesting… no pedal based power meters?
    Basically they let Garmin to increase his advantage represented by Vector 3… a few years later all companies will realize: “Wait! we can gather more data and more accurate measurements from pedal based power meters! Let’s switch to that…”

    Enjoy your stay, Ray!

  4. Staszek

    Hello,

    There’s seams to be a link mismatch on the detail pictures of MOVISTAR TEAM (all smaller pictures links to the thirt picture :)

  5. W

    …only two teams with disc brakes. I guess riders need to be paid a lot to adopt them.

    • Andrew M

      Probably more to do with the logistical hassle (eg. compatibility of roof-racks on team cars) for a “fly-away” race. You may see teams using disc brakes more on races closer to their service course.

  6. Daniel Fleischer

    Not very many disc brakes in the peloton…
    Seem not to be very popular among pro riders.

    • Aloysius Gomes

      I think it’s more of convenience where the changing of wheels is faster with rim brakes vs disc brakes. Also when you are riding in a peloton, disc brakes don’t matter…if ur gonna crash ur gonna crash at that speed.

  7. Jon S

    I’ll be ‘that guy’.
    I think there’s a typo in the final para for BMC Bike “Outside of the power realm, note on this bike the Di2 battery status integrated into the stem (below that is the rest of the Di2 junction box).”

    Shouldn’t ‘stem’ read ‘down tube’?

  8. Jonas S.

    Just out of couriosity: do you have official media accreditation for TDU? Or are you just that well-known nowadays, that all teams give you a bike to check-out? ;-)

    • ReHMn

      Welcome, newbies!

      Yes, Ray has the media accreditation, this is his job. And he’s got his media bag also, if in doubts, check previous year video:

      link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Jonas S.

      And you are who exactly?

      I’m certainly aware that Ray got media accreditation for events like TdF and the Giro, but I also know that he sometimes didn’t go for it as it can be quite a hassle.

    • I did get accreditation for the TDU this year, as it’s thankfully one of the easiest ones to get. Posts like this would be very hard to get otherwise, at least without a bit of luck getting in somehow.

      Lots of goodness coming over the course of the week…

  9. Jo Chen

    Interesting custom mount at the BORA-hansgrohe…

  10. Domen

    Speaking of Sigma Rox GPS computers in Team Sunweb section, do you ever tried/test them and if yes, what are you opinions.

    • I have one, and have toyed around with it a bit. I don’t think it’s terribly competitive though, either in terms of UI/functions, or just the exterior looks of the device. Always kinda felt like a 1980’s calculator.

    • Aloysius Gomes

      Lol couldn’t agree more…Sometimes it’s not what’s in it but how and what it looks like

    • Domen

      Thanks,
      I was just asking because I was super happy with their basic, wired (let’s say commuter type) computers a few years ago. They were reliable, simple, with long lasting battery…
      But “smart” GPS computers are something very different and I was wondering if they managed to keep pace with the competition.

  11. nalc

    The links for the four thumbnails for the Movistar bike all go to the same big picture (of the crankset)

  12. Nathan B

    Interesting that you note that Team Sky are using Garmin computers
    “Head Units: Garmin (varied by rider)”

    I jut looked on Chris Froome’s Strava profile, and it’s showing as him using an Edge 810, rather than the 820 that you’d expect.

  13. Carl Thomas

    AG2R LA MONDIALE the only ones with oversized pulley wheels. Guessing a sponsor thing.

  14. DAVID

    RAY, what is the object suspended behind the saddles on the TEAM UNISA-AUSTRALIA bikes? It appears to be a phone or maybe it acts as a GPS tracker or race timer.
    SRM has a good looking carbon crank, but with the new Shimano PM crank has truly eclipsed SRM dominance in short order. Have fun in OZ.

  15. Charlie Anderson

    I thought p/b stood for “Presented By”…

  16. byDesign

    SRAM vs Shimano – I thought there would be a few more SRAM sponsors at this point with eTap.

    • Yeah, SRAM as an entity has essentially determined the WorldTour level sponsorships aren’t really worth it (from an ROI standpoint). They are however extremely active in other individual pro athletes (and the women’s side), and other teams.

  17. Matt

    Pedantic note – Team UniSA-Australia isn’t an invitee as such, it’s a one-race team assembled exclusively for the TDU each year from local Australian racers (usually up-and-comers who have shown recent good form) to give them some exposure to racing at WorldTour level. Therefore their bikes are what they “normally” use – some years multiple riders may be taken from the same local team and will have the same equipment, other times it’s a completely mixed bag.

  18. Ritsma

    Grt post. I would expect Team Dimension Data to ride with Rotor Uno. Any idea why yes or no? Not solid enough yet?