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Race tech: Giro d'Italia, March 11, 2009

Speed machines celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Giro d'Italia

By James Huang in Lido di Venezia, Italy

Garmin-Slipstream's Dave Zabriskie goes electronic

The Dura-Ace Di2 shifters are little more than pairs of buttons
(Click for larger image)

Garmin-Slipstream time trial specialist Dave Zabriskie rolled up to the start line for the Giro d'Italia's opening team time trial aboard his usual Felt DA, now set up with Shimano's electronic Dura-Ace Di2 group.

Though slightly heavier than the mechanical version, Di2 still offers an advantage for Zabriskie by virtue of its multiple shift button placement. Team mechanics placed a pair of pods out on the extensions as usual but another set was integrated into the brake levers out on the base bar, meaning the current US time trial champion is free to shift at nearly any time, not just while in the tuck as usual.

In contrast to what he used at the Tour of Calfornia, Zabriskie's frame also traded in its more patriotic red, white and blue scheme for a more typical black, white, orange and blue yet there was still no question from what country he hails. A giant decal on his Zipp 900 rear disc emulates the shield of famed comic book hero Captain America - though given the team's blistering 56.33km/h (35.0mph), all anyone saw on course was a big blur.

Rabobank tests new carbon fiber Dura-Ace pedal

The rear jaws are borrowed from the current PD-7810 pedal
(Click for larger image)

Rabobank riders were spotted testing a new carbon fiber Dura-Ace prototype pedal from team sponsor Shimano. Though the overall shape remains similar to the current PD-7810 version with its wide and flat body, molded composite construction now yields a 40g weight savings per pair according to team technical manager Andy Wollny.

The new pedals thankfully share the 7810's silky-smooth bearing assembly though pared-down aluminum sleeves pares additional weight. The rear jaw is completely carried over as well, meaning the new pedal will be wholly compatible with Shimano's ubiquitous SPD-SL cleat design.

We have no word on commercial availability just yet but given the rather finished-looking condition of the prototype, sometime late this calendar year seems like a safe bet.

New equipment for the Cervélo Test Team

Cervélo's elusive P4 made an appearance
(Click for larger image)

Cervélo launched their stunning P4 time trial bike to great fanfare at last year's Interbike show but it has rarely made an appearance in major competition. Cervélo Test Team in fact still had only one rider - Lithuanian Ignatas Konovalovas - aboard their aero flagship at the start of this year's Giro.

Little appears to have changed since the bike's introduction as the frame bears an identical form to what we saw back in September - including the trick rear brake that is wholly encased within the chain stays. The original's integrated water bottle design was nowhere to be seen though and sitting in its place was a standard bidon and cage from team sponsor Elite.

Seemingly all of the riders were back on Rotor crankarms now, however. The new '3D' arm design is nearly twice as broad as the current Agilis yet with three longitudinal holes bored thoroughly nearly the entire length of each arm to reduce weight without sacrificing rigidity. Moreover, most of the team were also back on the company's elliptical Q-Rings save for one or two who opted for FSA's bulged time trial-specific chainrings.


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Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com