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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti


91st Tour de France - July 3-25, 2004

Tour de France tech, July 14, 2004

Jan Ullrich's T-Mobile Giant TCR Composite

Photo ©: Chris Henry

Giving nothing away

When you've never finished off the podium in the Tour de France and you've had enough of coming second, you want a bike that brings every possible advantage to the roads of the Grand Boucle. Jan Ullrich is campaigning this year's Tour aboard the latest Giant TCR Advanced. John Stevenson & Chris Henry take a look.

The cockpit
Photo ©: Chris Henry
Carbon wheels
Photo ©: Chris Henry
Tubulars!
Photo ©: Chris Henry
Very custom saddle and post...
Photo ©: Chris Henry
... hull and cover by Selle Italia
Photo ©: Chris Henry

While Lance Armstrong rolls his new Trek Madone SL and Madone SSL around the roads of France, Jan Ullrich also has a new weapon in the form of a Giant TCR Advanced Composite tuned to exactly nail the UCI's 6.8kg weight limit.

The TCR Advanced has a bare frame weight under 900g, a perfect platform to construct a lightweight special. This 2005 bike uses new types of carbon fiber and resin, compared to the previous incarnation, to shave even more off a frame that was already not exactly heavy. The frame is constructed with a monocoque front triangle and bonded seat and chain stays.

Der Jan is not riding Giant's TCR Advanced with integrated seat tube, but his own TCR is nevertheless heavily tricked out with a custom seat post and saddle comprising carbon rails under a Selle Italia hull and cover. It's the sort of design you only use if you're someone who is totally fed up with coming second in the Tour de France and who is determined to look for every imaginable advantage!

While it's obviously important to give nothing away in the weight department, Ullrich's Tour bikes also differ from his regular machines in one other small respect - he uses 177.5mm cranks for extra hill-climbing leverage rather than his usual 175mm. The long cranks suit his powerful dieseling pedalling style.

The majority of the running gear on Ullrich's machine is Shimano Dura-Ace ten-speed with Osaka providing brakes, gears, chainset, chains and sprockets. It's startling to think how quickly this group has gone from dramatically new to accepted and some of its features will be trickling down to the mid-priced Ultegra and Deore LX groups in 2005.

We frequently get asked whether pro riders are generally using tubulars or clinchers and as you can see, Jan Ullrich is a tubs man. Despite the advances that have been made in clinchers in the last ten years or so, tubulars still retain an undeniable weight advantage, especially when paired with carbon rims. Ullrich's tyre sponsor, Continental, makes both tubulars and very highly-regarded clinchers, so it's not as if he has sponsor obligations here - this is the choice of a man who can make a choice and who has a Tour de France to win.

Ullrich also has his own choice when it coes to pedals - Time Impacts. He may just be playing safe given his history of knee problems, but maybe he's declined the Shimano SPD-SLs that usually come with a Dura-Ace set-up because, well, if you were him, would you want to use "Lance pedals"?

Photography

Images by Chris Henry/Cyclingnews


Full specification

Frame: Giant TCR Advanced carbon fiber, size L
Fork: Giant carbon fiber
Colour: T-Mobile

Cranks: Shimano Dura-Ace 10 speed 177.5mm/53x39
Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace 10 speed
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace 10 speed
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace 10 speed
Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace
Levers: Shimano Dura-Ace 10 speed
Rear sprockets: Shimano Dura-Ace 11-23


Wheels:
Carbon fiber, 20-spoke rear, 18-spoke front
Tyres: Continental Competition 22mm tubulars

Stem: Deda Newton 130mm
Bars: Deda 44cm
Computer: Sigma Sport
Headset: Integrated

Pedals: Time Impact
Seat post: Custom
Saddle: Custom Selle Italia

Weight: 6.8kg