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Tour de France tech snippets, July 20, 2006

Zipp propels Tour favourites

Zipping away
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Wheelmaker Zipp has been having a rather good Tour de France, with CSC's breakaway specialist Jen Voigt winning stage 13 on Zipp wheels, Phonak's Floyd Landis in yellow for a couple of days, TT specialist Dave Zabriskie (CSC) third in the prologue and Frank Schleck (CSC) climbing to a Zipp-supported win on Alpe d'Huez.

For the time trials, Zabriskie and Landis have been using Zipp's go-faster 999 wheels, which pairs a dimpled Zipp rear disc with an 82mm deep dimpled front rim for what Zipp claims is the fastest wheel pairing around without using twin discs (or Zipp's ceramic-bearing-equipped Z99 wheels).

The 999 set is fast, but when it comes to the mountains, you need fast and light. CSC's riders have been using 303 and 404 wheels for the road stages, and Zipp's lightweight 202s have also made an appearance, but for his stage-winning ascent of Alpe d'Huez in stage 15, Luxemburg's Frank Schleck was shod with 303s.

Go Phloyd!
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Ear, ear!
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Get funky
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Spruik for Floyd

Phonak's Floyd Landis has proven himself a serious contender in this Tour, and assuming his hip surgery is successful it's a safe bet that he will come back in 2007 even better prepared. But in the meantime, he's not writing himself off as a podium chance, and says he's looking forward to Saturday's time trial as his last chance for 2006 Tour glory.

Retailer Competitive Cyclist has these t-shirts for Landis fans, playing on team sponsor Phonak's business - making hearing aids - and having fun with the spelling.

The 'Dots' shirt is Comp Cyclist's take on a modern art design, with Phonak's ears in a grid on the front and 'Floyd 06' on the back. The 'Funky Floyd' shirt is the one everyone on the Cyclingnews team wanted, a black shirt with a simple 'Floyd' on the front, but if yellow's more your colour, there's also the 'Go Phloyd' design.

All three shirts are printed on durable Gildan tees, which Comp Cyclist says will last for years, as long as you don't wear them for "25 straight days in July".

More info: www.competitivecyclist.com

Zabel's disc-man

By Anthony Tan

Attaching the hub is the tricky part
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CarbonSports Lightweight disc wheel
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With 194 victories to his credit, Erik Zabel is the winningest German pro of all time. In fact, his total victories are more than any other active rider today, and the recently-turned 36 year-old, originally from East Berlin, is still the only rider to win the green jersey at the Tour de France six times, safeguarding his name in cycling's hall of fame.

After 13 successful years with Team Telekom (which later became known as T-Mobile), Zabel chose to ride for Team Milram in 2006, teaming up with Italian super-sprinter Alessandro Petacchi. In most cases, he uses the same equipment as his team-mates, but for wheels, CarbonSports is his personal sponsor.

The makers of those enviable-looking Lightweight wheels, 'Ete' has access to their full range of hoops, including this rear disc pictured. At 830 grams, CarbonSports claims their Lightweight Disc weighs less than HED's Standard and Superlight discs, Citec's Carbotec, Zipp's 900, Campagnolo's Ghibli, and Corima's disc wheel.

They're not the only ones who think it's a wheel worth having - even hilly time trials. In creating the ideal bike for mountain time trials at the Tour de France, Germany's Tour magazine, Europe's number one cycling publication, believed Lightweight's disc together with a Lightweight spoked wheel to be the best combination.

Speaking of time trial gear, Discovery Channel's George Hincapie used these Bontrager prototype TT bars in the prologue and Saturday's 52km TT. It's all one structure in carbon fibre with a wind-tunnel refined aero shape and trick-quick internal cable routing.

Newest version of Trek Equinox TTX for Le Tour

By Tim Maloney European Editor

Trek Equinox TTX
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Trek Equinox TTX rear triangle
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Trek Equinox TTX aero seatpost & seattube
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Bontrager's new aerobar
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Trek's newest time machine is the TTX Equinox, which Cyclingnews reported on back in May when the Discovery Channel team debuted their new time trial rig at the Giro d'Italia. Trek has made some major changes in the shape of their top shelf time trial bike for 2006, with a new integrated 1 1/8in headset (increased from a 1incher) and the steerer tube is now in aluminum. Plus the TTX Equinox has a special aerodynamic seatpost configuration designed to cut drag.

The new Bontrager fork also has some enhanced aero benefits, explained Trek's Scott Daubert, as he told Cyclingnews that "the trailing edge of the fork crown and the frame down tube are integrated to present what our engineers call a virtual "continuous surface" to the wind, which reduces aerodynamic drag at zero yaw and improves the sail effect in crosswinds. We learned this detail in the wind tunnel testing in 2004 while researching the first TTX created for Lance Armstrong, but we just didn't have time to implement this new frame design for the bike he used in the 2005 Tour."

Daubert gave Cyclingnews the numbers rundown on the new Trek Equinox TTX, saying that "this frame has improved aerodynamics and reduced weight, with a 50% increase in lateral stiffness at the headtube for improved handling, a 52% increase in lateral bottom bracket stiffness, a 29% increase in lateral stiffness at rear wheel and a longer top tube for better handling in aero position."

In talking with Daubert at Le Tour, we discovered that Discovery Channel has two versions of the TTX Equinox. "Before the Giro d'Italia, we delivered this production prototype version of the TTX Equinox. This frame was made of OCLV 120 carbon fibre, but we had already decided to build a lighter version of the TTX Equinox out of OCLV 120 carbon fibre. This will be our production bike for 2007 and we'll add another (XL) size for 2007."

Trek delivered 4 frames in the new version of the TTX Equinox a few weeks before the Tour and Discovery Channel's Yaroslav Popovych has been riding the new version, about 200 grams lighter for a L size frame since the start of the Tour De France.

More info: Trek

Descente renews with CSC

Clothing maker Descente has renewed for two years its agreement to be the official cycling, baselayer and casual apparel sponsor to the CSC team.

CSC is famously - almost notoriously - demanding of its equipment suppliers so Descente is understandably rather pleased to have Bjarne Riis saying things like, "Descente has performed beyond our expectations for 2006 so we were very happy to renew our agreement for an additional two years. Of course we're also happy that Descente is showing its faith in the team given the current controversy . Above all, we're excited to be moving forward with them for an extended time." S

The association with CSC has been a major plank in Descente's comeback platform, and Hugh Walton, president of Descente Athletic said that continuing the relations ship was an important element in the company's strategy to become the leading cycling clothing maker. "In spite of the problems the team has experienced prior to the start of the Tour de France, we're 100% behind the team," said Walton. "We have a great working relationship and the riders love the apparel."

Gerolsteiner trials new First Endurance bar

First Endurance energy bar
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The Gerolsteiner team is testing a new energy bar during the Tour from nutrition supplier First Endurance. The new bar, which will be launched at the Interbike show in September, contains an "ideal blend of glutamine, branched chain amino acids, complex carbohydrates, high-glycemic sugars antioxidants and electrolytes," tailored to athlete's need during exercise.

The Gerolsteiner and Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada teams tried prototype bars at the Tour of California and gave the First Endurance R&D team valuable feedback. First Endurance says the revised bar is getting raves from the riders who arte now using it.

According to Robert Kunz, senior VP of research and development at First Endurance, the new bar, "provides all the ingredients endurance athletes need to maximize endurance. It provides a lot more than just the protein, carbohydrates and fat that you find in other bars. It's the first bar on the market to deliver all five of the key electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium and calcium) in the advanced levels that endurance athletes require in order to prevent cramping and dehydration."

More info: First Endurance

Pro Cycling Manager - Season 2006

Finally, if you fancy yourself as the next Bjarne Riis or Johan Bruyneel, Cyanide Studios has recently released the latest edition of its bike racing computer game. In Pro Cycling Manager - Season 2006 you take on the day-to-day role of the manager of a pro team, looking after contracts, transfers, sponsors, training. Then, during the 3D real-time race sequences you manage team tactics and control the actions of each individual rider, looking after energy levels, feeding, placing attacks at the right moment, protecting a team leader, sprinting for the line and so on, while all the time keeping an eye on what the competition is up to.

Check out the playable demo at www.gamesplanet.com.