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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Tour de France Tech – July 7, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson

Got tech? Send press releases, news, and tech questions to the Cyclingnews tech desk.

Part one of today's tech round-up is here.

SSLx proto for lucky seven

Armstrong aims to make Tour history on Trek's latest Madone SSLx

By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Nantes

Lance Armstrong's boron-reinforced Trek Madone SSLx
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Cyclingnews shot Lance Armstrong's new Trek SSLx prototype bike for the Tour de France and found out that Armstrong has some superstitions about his bikes. One of them, according to Trek's Scott Daubert, is to start and finish on the same bike. "That way, he gets his position dialed in and just has to change wheels or add a downtube shifter, depending on the race situation."

Bontrager bar and stem
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Discovery Channel's wrench Juanito Lujan
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For his shot at a seventh straight Tour, Lance has chosen Trek's new Madone SSLX prototype. "Lance told us that he likes this new version of the SSLX, which is more rigid than the earlier prototype he used in the Ventoux TT in the 2004 Dauphine." Daubert said that Trek has added carbon fiber with boron to certain parts of the SSLx frame for 2005, resulting in a frame, "that is 10-12 percent more rigid on our test bed at Trek's OCLV facility in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Out on the road it's hard to measure, but Lance is riding it, so that tells the story."

Armstrong has a 58cm frame that looks like the Trek Madone SL from the outside, but is considerably lighter. Another way Lance is saving weight for 2005 is by using new Bontrager RaceLite XXX carbon fiber handlebars. "This year is the first time Lance has used carbon fiber bars for his road bike; the (Bontrager RaceLite XXX) weigh 185 grams for the 44mm width that Lance uses and have a classic, non-anatomic curve he likes. Lance also helped us develop the variable radius curve on the drops; it's not a constant curve and helps Lance get his brake lever position perfectly dialed," said Daubert.

"To make the RaceLite XXX carbon bars more rigid, our engineers in Waterloo have also added boron layup to the key areas in the center section where the bars get the most stress."

Eyewear? Eye-war!

Rudy Project wearer Jan Ullrich
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Ever since Greg LeMond turned up to the Tour with half his face hidden under the original Oakley Eyeshades, the Tour has been a hard-fought showcase for the latest and greatest from the world's sunglasses manufacturers.

According to Italian eyewear maker Rudy Project, the most popular sunglasses at this year's Tour are made by, well, Rudy Project. Fair enough, you'd hardly expect Rudy to make a fuss if someone else's glasses were adorning more faces; as well as being the official eyewear of Le tour, Rudy is equipping no fewer than 45 riders this year - 24 percent of the peloton.

Rudy Project users include Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile); all of the Rabobank and Lampre-Caffita teams; most of Saunier Duval (Juan Manuel Garate, David Canada, Nicolas Fritsch, Christopher Horner, Leonardo Piepoli, and Manuel Quinziato); most of FDJ (Bradley McGee, Baden Cooke, Carlos Da Cruz, Bernhard Eisel, Philippe Gilbert, and Thomas Lövkvist); Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole); Thierry Marichal and Cédric Vasseur (Cofidis); and Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner).

Lance Armstrong's Oakley protos
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Number two on the list, with 17 percent of the peloton, is Oakley, and the Big O has been the subject of quite a few reader emails from people wanting to know about the white shades Lance Armstrong has been wearing. According to Chris Brewer, Cyclingnews' embedded reporter on the Discovery team bus, they're an as-yet-unnamed prototype and Armstrong has the only set.

Brewer pigeonholed Kiko Garcia, a former domestique for the Spanish ONCE team and now one of the European marketing managers for Oakley. "The glasses Lance has on are prototypes - he is the only person who currently has these," Garcia told Brewer. "But I keep getting emails every day from people all over who want to know where they can get a pair of these - so hopefully they will go into production soon."

Specialized shades
©: Specialized
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We've also been asked why Armstrong wasn't wearing sunglasses for the team time trial. According to Garcia, the new shades sit right in his vision when he's in an aero tuck.

A significant new player in this hyper-competitive category is Specialized - which entered the eyewear field this year with its photochromic glasses. The California-based company already accounts for 11 percent of the field thanks to its sponsorship of the Domina Vacanze and Davitamon-Lotto teams (such as Fred Rodriguez) and of course, Gerolsteiner riders Levi Leipheimer and Michael Rich, as well as Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile) . Specialized sponsored riders are using the ARC and new Helix models. Both the Davitamon-Lotto and Domina Vacanze squads are also using Specialized helmets.

(Specialized is also a prize sponsor of the Cyclingnews le Tour Fantasy Game - with a pair of either the new Arc or Helix models on offer as the daily stage prize.)

Dave Z has made Smith visible in this Tour
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Six eyewear makers account for the next 30 percent of the Tour peloton, with five percent each: Smith (CSC), Spiuk (Illes Balears), Zero RH+ (Fassa Bortolo), Cebe (Liberty Seguros), BBB (Quick Step), Nike (Bouygues Telecom), and Briko (Liquigas). The remaining nine percent are, apparently, 'others'.

The Smith eyewear has been worn most prominently by Dave Zabriskie and other members of Team CSC.