By James Huang
BMC has high hopes for this year's Tour of California after an impressive showing in 2008 by riders such as Scott Nydam (winner of the mountains classification) and former Swiss national road champion Alexandre Moos (tenth overall, fourth in the mountains classification).
A pro since 1997, veteran Moos brings valuable experience to the relatively young squad, but his history with BMC - he was also with Phonak - and Swiss background also nets him a closer relationship with the team’s bike sponsor. Moos' teammates will all use BMC’s second-tier TT02 Time Machine for the time trials at this year's Tour of California but Moos has been provided with the full-blown TT01 flagship.
Unlike the aluminum and carbon TT02, the TT01 is a full carbon construct and is offered in no stock sizes whatsoever. Using what BMC terms its Personal Precision Program, each TT01 is made to measure with custom geometry based on the rider’s physique and flexibility and even variable tube wall thicknesses based on rider weight and strength.
The TT01 bears the usual aero trickery such as the airfoil-profiled down tube, seat stays and seatpost, shielded rear wheel and internal cable routing but several other features, some small and some not, offer some distinction from other TT rigs.
BMC foregoes the conventional head tube and fork steerer in favor of a 'living hinge' design similar to those now used by other makes such as Look and Felt. This system allows for smaller pivot bearings - making for a narrower and more aerodynamic front end - but also effectively increases the airfoil section depth of the entire head tube area for further drag reduction. In BMC's case, the entire area is also particularly well integrated for extra-smooth airflow from fork to head tube.
BMC has also maintained the sleek and narrow theme to the top of the fork, which smoothly transitions to a fully integrated aero stem that uses a unique eccentric handlebar clamp to provide a bit of adjustability in both reach and height for the Easton Attack TT aero bar. Down below, the narrow-and-deep down tube extends past the bottom bracket shell to offer a little extra protection to the rear wheel.
A clever internal wedge system housed within the seatpost allows for some height adjustment without the need for an external clamp to disrupt the airflow while a rail system up top affords a generous amount of fore-aft movement. Perched atop Moos' post is a Selle Italia SLR saddle slammed rather far forward and with a trimmed nose to stay within UCI guidelines.
In addition to the premium frame, BMC has also provided Moos with its ultra-rare aero carbon crankset. The arms bear an especially deep cross section, the spider is a fully enclosed disc, and even the backs of the chainrings are filled in smooth. Though most of the industry has hopped on the external bearing bandwagon, BMC fixes these cranks to a good old-fashioned square taper Campagnolo bottom bracket.
Componentry-wise, Moos' bike displays the common practice of using last year’s road gear; in this case the 10-speed version of Campagnolo’s Record group. The standard derailleurs are used both front and rear and there are also the familiar D-Skeleton brake calipers at either end, fitted with Corima’s popular red blocks for use on carbon rims.
Those brakes clamp down on a full carbon flat disc out back and a deep-section carbon tubular up front, both fitted with Continental Podium tubulars. According to team mechanic Vincent Gee, Moos will often run slightly lower pressures than the rest of the team when the conditions are rough for better traction. For Saturday's opening prologue - where the forecast currently calls for windy conditions and a strong chance of rain - Gee says that Moos may even run sub-100psi given the course’s treacherous hairpin corner at the turnaround.
Though both wheels were labeled with gigantic DT Swiss logos - the official team sponsor - characteristic surface dimples and molded-in 'Zipp' logos betrayed otherwise. Team head mechanic Ian Sherbourne says this substitution wasn't made by virtue of one company offering a superior product relative to the other though; DT Swiss simply doesn't offer a deep-section wheel or full disc at the moment though it's possible one or both may be in development.
Moos will have two opportunities to show off his TT01 - first at the opening prologue and again in Solvang for the longer 24km time trial. Even if he doesn't do well, however, he can at least perhaps find some comfort in knowing that he very likely has the most expensive time trial bike in this year's illustrious field: retail cost for the bare chassis alone (frame, fork, headset, seatpost, and integrated stem) is over US$12,000.
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