Tour tech: who's wearing what in the Tour de France, July 14, 2006
Tour de France tech accessories report
The eyewear report - BBB, Specialized, Smith and Oakley have famous
By Anthony Tan in Lorient
Just say you're a Tour de France rider, blasting down the forested descent
of the Col du Tourmalet at 100 clicks an hour. You're only 30 seconds
behind the lead group, but you're going to have to bomb the descent to
regain contact. Bright light comes in and out your vision, disturbing
your line of sight; you can't decide whether to leave your shades on or
Tom Boonen in yellow BBBs
The rainbow stripe special
Well, lenses that automatically adjust to prevailing light conditions
are almost the norm, with many of the main eyewear manufacturers offering
what are generically called photochromatic lenses in their products. So
that's the technology, but as there is more than just a bit of marketing
in the eyewear war, it also helps to have popular and recognisable riders
wearing said products, especially when they win.
BBB - for big bad Boonen?
It could be argued that there is no rider with more rock-star allure
than Belgium's Tom Boonen. Admittedly, he could wear $10 cheapies from
the local supermarket and still look cool, but with a head that's photographed
as many times as his, why do that?
The Dutch company, BBB Parts, sponsors the whole Quick.Step Team and
has designed its new BSG-23 especially for big Tom. They have a flexible
and lightweight Grilamid frame; adjustable metal nose piece and interchangeable
polycarbonate lenses with 100% UV protection.
The Boonen specials are white with the world champion rainbow stripes
on the bands. Of course, after stage three of the Tour you may have noticed
that Boonen wore a new yellow version of the glasses, while he leading
the race. They come with smoke blue revo lenses and also three extra lenses;
orange, yellow and clear with a flash mirror coating, and a carrying case.
Do these match?
The Specialized Arc
Levi's not weighed down by his sunnies, at least
Californian company Specialized continues to make inroads into the ProTour
peloton with its accessories, such as its shoes, helmets and of course,
optics. Of course, it's most well-known for its bikes, such as those ridden
by Team Gerolsteiner, and its main GC rider, Levi Leipheimer, who also
wears the Specialized Arc model (as does Fabian Wegmann).
The Arc model weighs only 17 grams and features the Specialized 'Adaptalite'
lens that also adjusts to existing light conditions. This lens material
- which is also said to be more shatterproof and lightweight than Polycarbonate
NXT - is held in place by a non-folding titanium frame, which helps keep
the weight down. Providing comfort for wearers is molded Megol nosepiece
and ear tabs (these also come with a hard-shell case).
The other model being used by other Gerolsteiner riders, as well as ProTour
teams Cofidis, Davitamon-Lotto and Milram, is the Helix. This is a more
traditional piece - given that it has a folding frame - but also provides
the Adaptalite lens in a more traditional shape. But like the Arc, it
also features the Megol nosepiece. It should be pointed out that although
Specialized sponsors the Davitamon-Lotto team, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner
and Robbe McEwen each have individual pre-existing agreements with other
sponsors, but they still use the Specialized helmets.
With three optically-correct
A certain shade of CSC
Not to be outdone on the shades front is Smith's V-Ti. Representative
Greg 'Chopper' Randolph told Cyclingnews the glasses were designed
specifically to meet the needs of the riders on Team CSC and Discovery
Channel, as well as other wind-affected endurance sports.
"With a 7-base lens curve utilizing Smith's patented TLT Optics, the
V-Ti is designed for perfect and unobstructed vision in the drops, TT
bars or looking out for the coming attack in the peripheral," began Randolph.
"They incorporate super lightweight, maximum peripheral view and visibility,
with an easily interchangeable lens design. Utilising a unique beta-titanium
material in the temples provides a light-fitting, lightweight, and bomb-proof
product which fits any head with its custom spring-fit design."
With three optically-correct lenses, the friendly Chopper with the not-so-friendly
nickname went on to say "The V-Ti is also available in polarized and photochromic
(light-sensitive, self-adjusting) polarized lens configurations. Hydrophyllic
Megol is utilized on temple tips and nose pad to ensure a soft, secure
fit, which does not fail when soaked with water or sweat."
Pricing is yet to be determined, but they will be available to the public
later this fall. (Like other teams, some riders on Discovery and CSC have
pre-existing sponsorship arrangements with other suppliers.)
Oakley keeps 'em covered
As used by George Hincapie
George Hincapie, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner and Carlos Sastre may all
come from different countries, but they are all wearing Oakley's new Activated
by Transitions sunglass lenses, which lighten or darken depending on the
sun's behaviour. As UV light exposure increases, the base lens darkens
automatically to maintain a adjusted level of light transmission - from
overcast/flat light to bright sun, and vice versa.
Just released on June 1 this year, Oakley's Transitions lenses are so
far available on seven frame models. Hincapie's favoured Racing Jackets
now have the Transitions lenses but also have the same visual contrast
and clarity of the company's renowned High Definition Optics (HDO), allowing
him to zero in when cornering at speed, or any other split-second manoeuvres.
As used by Cadel Evans, Chris Horner
and Carlos Sastre
Likewise for Evans, Horner and Sastre, who opt for Oakley's Half Jackets
Activated by Transitions. Said Oakley marketing representative Steve Blick
to Cyclingnews, "They help you adapt to changing light conditions
while filtering out 100 percent of ultraviolet (UV) light. Whether your
environment lightens or darkens, the lenses adjust automatically.
"Additionally, the balanced light transmission helps to boost visual
contrast, enhancing depth perception, a key performance benefit that improves
visual quality and comfort. If you're a professional cyclist, this combination
of technologies gives you performance, impact resistance, comfort and
"Even a weekend warrior or non-athlete will enjoy the benefits of our
Transitions lenses - this really is a combination of the world's best
optical sciences," said Blick proudly.
rainbow stripe special edition from BBB Parts, now also available
in yellow following Boonen's stretch in the leader's jersey.
Boonen in yellow BBBs - complete with rainbow stripe
Specialized Arc weighs only 17 grams, helped by the titanium frame
and single-piece lens.
during podium duties Gerosteiner riders won't remove their Specialized
these match? Does the dark amber colour go with all the blue, you
used by George Hincapie, Oakley's Racing Jacket in Jet Black colour
with Black Persimmon to Grey Transitions lenses.
same frame, but in Pearl white and VR50 to Brown Transitions lenses.
used by Cadel Evans, Chris Horner and Carlos Sastre - Oakley's Half
Jacket in Jet Black colour with Black Persimmon to Grey Transitions
same frame, but with VR50 to Brown Transitions lenses.
Half Jacket XLJ in Jet Black with Black Persimmon to Grey Transitions
same frame, but with VR50 to Brown Transitions lenses.
V-Ti, designed specifically to meet the needs of the riders on Team
three optically-correct lenses, the V-Ti is also available in polarized
and photochromic (light-sensitive, self-adjusting) polarized lens configurations.