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It took me until halfway through the women’s race to figure out the connection between the riders on the bright red bikes. That was a shrewd move on the part of Specialized, especially since the red bikes were one of the first things noticed by more casual viewers (i.e. my wife).
I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out what advantage British cycling thought they were buying with their R&D budget. “High end composites” are pretty standard in the professional peloton now, and shaving a little more weight is pointless now that pretty much all the bikes are at the UCI weight limit. Aerodynamics still seems to be an area with unanswered questions, but whatever those bikes were optimized for, it wasn’t enough to make it possible for 4 TT specialists to chase down a group of 30.
And, yes, those were two great road races.
I looked at the British bike, and maybe it’s just the photo, but it looks like the big chainring is shaped like an oval. Am I uneducated in bike racing technology, or is this unusual?
Good eye, Tyler. The idea behind ovalized or elipital chainrings is to reduce the “dead spot” in the pedal stroke. The radius of the chainring varies throughout one pedal revolution so that it is largest when the cranks are near horizontal and the most force is being applied. Read Sheldon Brown’s page about Shimano Biopace (which gained popularity in the late 80/early 90s). Rotor Q rings are popular choice for some riders today. Check out their pdf file titled Effects of Chainring Type (Round vs. Q-Ring) on 1km Time-Trial Performance for more information.