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Tour tech: Deda, fi:zi'k, MET, Scwalbe - July 13, 2006

Tour de France tech accessories report

By Anthony Tan & Tim Maloney in Lorient

Seen at Le Tour: New from Deda Elementi for 2007

Deda's new superlight Zero100 stem
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Deda's Electa handlebar
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Zero100 in Dark Metal Polish
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The Electa's drop
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Cyclingnews managed to follow Deda Elementi's Fulvio Acquati as he zipped around the team hotels at the Tour de France on his BMW motorcycle straight from Milano, Italy and we even managed to catch up to him a few times as he was showing teams the cool new stuff from Deda they would get after Le Tour.

"Teams do not like to change equipment before the Tour de France," explained Acquati, who has years of experience working with pro teams from his time at Cinelli, Campagnolo, Bianchi and from the very beginning at Deda Elementi a decade ago. "So we show them the new products here and some of them will test them over the second half of the season. This input helps us fine tune our prototypes to become better production models."

Deda Elementi's Newton handlebars and stems are the reference in the pro peloton and riders have notched up too many wins to count over the last five years on them.

For 2007, Deda Elementi's Newton stem and handlebars will remain, while the top of the Deda Elementi line will be their new Zero100 model. We managed to convince Acquati to give it up for Cyclingnews and so we managed to snap a quick shot for your viewing pleasure.

"Zero100 is an new thinwall aluminum stem we have been developing for the past year," explained Acquati. "It's very light, weighing only 100 grams in a 120mm size for the the Zero100 Servzio Corsa model with titanium hardwear, and very stiff. We have two finishes for the Zero100; a black finish like the Newton and one with a unique new look, what we call "Dark Metal Polish". Available later on in 2006, Deda Elementi's Zero100 is an appropriate follow-up for the excellent Newton.

There are few carbon fibre handlebars used in the pro peloton, but Acquati told Cyclingnews, "There are a few riders using our new Electa carbon fibre handlebars. We've created a new model with a straight line across the top, which the pro riders told us they prefer. Then we added a wide cross section for a better grip, but not too wide like some bars, which are uncomfortable after five hours in the saddle as our pro testers told us."

Deda Elementi's new Electa carbon fibre handlebars have a new bend that's 5mm shorter than the previous model, but is 15mm longer in the bend itself. "This new configuration came from our pro testers who tell us the Electa is the most comfortable carbon fibre handlebar they have used."

Cyril Dessel (AG2R)
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fi:zi'k Arone saddle
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fi:zi'k gets its first yellow jersey

Yesterday Ag2R’s Cyril Dessel took the yellow jersey in the Tour de France in a courageous break-away, and in so doing, he also made history for the 11-year old fi’zi:k brand. It could be argued that saddles are one of those products that are rarely seen and should never be felt, but it's a market dominated by well-established Italian companies. One company has been supplying Tour de France teams since the start of the Grand Boucle in 1903, while another has 30 years on the board.

It wasn’t until 1998 that fi’zi:k made its first Tour de France appearance on Team Casino and later in year 2000 on Saeco-Macchine Valli & Valli Team and Team Lotto. While fi’zi:k has enjoyed many a day in the leader’s jersey (la maglia rosa) throughout the last few years at the Giro d’Italia, including two back to back wins, the young saddle brand has never been under the backside of a yellow jersey during the Tour de France. Yesterday, Dessel was perched on a fi:zi'k Arione.

fi’zi:k’s European marketing director, Massimo Fregonese, said the addition to its palmares is particularly special. Fregonese has been the guiding the brand’s direction and image since plans were first projected in 1995. Since then, he has seen the brand go from new kid on the block be the number two brand in the high performance saddle category (based on results of 2004 and 2005 Consumer Surveys from three different sources, as well as export numbers provided by US Customs, according to the company).

After eleven years of nurturing the fi’zi:k brand, Fregonese will be stepping away from the company later this month to pursue other interests. “The timing is perfect,” he said. “This is a befitting parting gift for me personally. The fi’zi:k brand has been a passion of mine for eleven years and it’s nice to walk away seeing one of our sponsored riders in yellow, sitting atop a fi’zi:k saddle.”

Met's Stradivarius 199
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Gilberto Simoni
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Saunier Duval plays the Stradivarius

A new helmet at the Tour de France this year comes from Italian company MET, with its Stradivarious 199 (the '199' indicating its claimed weight in grams).

MET goes further and claims it's the lightest bike helmet in the world, due to the use of 'UltimaLite' composite material used for the helmet shell. Apparently this was developed by MET at its base in Talamona, Italy. The Stradivarius is said to be 25 percent lighter than its predecessor, due mainly to the use of this material. The helmet is also features a 'Safe T' head retention system, perforated Kevlar lateral retention staps, and Coolmax padding, as well as 17 air vents.

It was first used at this year's Giro d'Italia and then the Tour de Suisse, where Saunier Duval riders finished on the podium. It's expected to be start shipping to selected stores next month.

Schwalbe's proto rubber

Schwalbe's Ultremo, their latest competition clincher
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500 prototypes were made
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Just before the start of the first Tour stage around Strasbourg, Lars Teutenberg, former pro and brother of Sven and Ina (Germany's first cycling family), is now a representative for German tyre manufacturer Schwalbe.

Lars showed a new prototype competition clincher (and soon to be tubular) that's being used by the Gerolsteiner team. Named Ultremo, Teutenberg told Cyclingnews 500 sets were made as part of a small pre-production batch, so racers can test them before their official launch at the trade shows later this year.

Three different rubber mixtures form the basis of the triple compound tyre, designed to be fast, grippy and durable. Lars also said the Ultremo tyre weighs less than 200 grams, but at the same time, he claims they are safer and more hard-wearing than its predecessor. Addressing the latter, Schwalbe's patented 'HD-V Guard' is incorporated into the tyre's casing, using a high-density fabric.

Since Gerolsteiner use tubulars for racing, they're on team leader Levi Leipheimer's training wheels for now, but Teutenberg said Schwalbe are currently developing a glue-on version to complement the clincher.