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Tour de France Tech July 20, 2005
Edited by John Stevenson
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A Giant leap - Jan Ullrich's Giant TCR Advanced
Jan Ullrich may have given up on the idea of beating Lance Armstrong and resigned himself to fighting for one of the two spots below on the Paris podium, but the German has not tried to make any excuses, admitting that Armstrong has simply been stronger.
The bike problems that seemed to niggle Ullrich last year have also been absent in 2005 - incidents like 2004's on-the-fly saddle reattachment have not been repeated.
This year, Ullrich and T-Mobile have been aboard the latest incarnation of Giant's carbon monocoque TCR frame, the TCR Advanced. Giant was one of the first manufacturers to show the bicycle world the Taiwanese can do carbon just as well as their European counterparts, and this latest offering is a result of almost a decade of design and redesign.
So, what's different about it?
Giant has tidied up this generation of the TCR carbon, reducing the size of the joints for a more conventional 'look' but the frame is still made in one piece. The most startling departure from previous - and conventional - design is the extended seat tube which ends in a small external bracket to hold the saddle. It doesn't give a great deal of up/down adjustment, but it does save a substantial amount of weight - Giant claims a size S frame weighs just 865g.
The straight carbon fork has also undergone some transformation, its profile varying quite a bit from the axle to the fork crown, the latter areas looking a little beefier than its predecessor. Nevertheless, it's also not a hefty component; Giant claims a fork weight of 295g.
T-Mobile uses Shimano equipment, so the running gear on Ullrich's bike is the familiar Dura-Ace ensemble. One slightly unusual choice is the 177.5mm cranks, which clearly suit Ullrich's 'dieseling' riding style.
Ullrich's bike also boasts two mystery components. The unmarked saddle is quite similar in shape and appearance to Fi:zi'k's Aliante with the carbon rails.
A departure from his Lightweight deep-rim hoops used ever since he helped now-CSC team manager Bjarne Riis win the '96 Tour, Ullrich's equally exotic carbon wheels now have a much more traditional look.
When Cyclingnews' super-sleuther Anthony Tan called T-Mobile press officer Luuc Eisenga for some more details on Jan Ullrich's bike, in particular his wheels and choice of saddle, he replied: "All prototypes, man, can't say."
"Not even what country they're from?" we asked.
"Nope," responded Eisenga, followed by a sly chuckle.
Don't worry, we'll keep searching...
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Anthony Tan/Cyclingnews.com