Bikes of Le Tour: Marcel Kittel’s yellow Giant Propel
by Dave Everett
Sponsors love to get as much coverage as possible throughout the biggest cycle race of the year — its a prime platform to gain huge amounts of publicity, from sending riders out on long range breakaways that will get good air time but ultimately fail to stay the distance, to simply supplying the team with a little bit of unique kit that tech heads will drool over.
Giant and Giant-Shimano had clearly come prepared knowing there was a solid chance Marcel Kittel could ride away with the yellow jersey on stage one. To celebrate and capitalise on this fact a bright yellow Giant Propel was lying in wait to be built for such an eventuality. The aero road bike was quickly unpacked from the team’s mechanic truck after Kittel’s win on stage 1 and prepared for stage 2.
Stage 2 had been likened to Liege-Bastogn-Liege, with multiple short but tough climbs. As I sit here in the press room writing this, the Vittoria Corsa SC tyres used by Marcel on his team bike have let the sprinter down — a puncture with 57km to go over the climb of Holme Moss has seen him having to have a wheel change. Not a perfect time for a mechanical as the climb is one of the main highlights of the stage. The 12-27 eleven speed cassette that all the team Giant-Shimano bikes are fitted with for this stage will surly be put to some use.
Kittel like many are using this cassette option now as the 11-speed allows a good range of gears without too large a jump between gear changes. Even with a 10-speed cassette there would be a large jump in ratio size across the range. These cassettes are matched to 39/53 chainrings up front. And all is changed using the latest Dura-Ace Di2.
Wheels are again from secondary team sponsor Shimano — the Dura-Ace C50 tubulars are Kittel’s wheel of choice. With bikes now being able to achieve well below the UCI weight limit, kit choice such as deeper section wheels are possible.
A matching yellow edition Pro Turnix saddle perches atop the integrated seat mast. Pro Vibe bars and stem finish off the build.
SRM even supplied the team with a PC7 head unit in yellow — over at Trek Factory Racing Jens Voigt had the same unit but in polka dots to match the KOM jersey he took in style yesterday on his solo attack over the Dales of Yorkshire. Incidentally, SRM is rumoured to have a new PC8 unit coming out — more features will be present including GPS. I’ll have more on this in future blogs so stay tuned.
In the meantime, check out the video above to find out what the Giant-Shimano mechanic had to say about building the custom Giant Propel, how long it took to get it perfect and to find out what else the team has up its sleeves for future stages including stage 5′s short but savage visit to the cobbles.