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Spotted at Omloop: Van Avermaet's brand new Giant TCR Disc and Sram's oversized chainrings

We took a look at Greg van Avermaet’s new TCR, and spot a new monster chainset from Sram

David Arthur
3 Mar 2020

We had a wander around Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and managed to sneak a close look at some of the kit being trialled by the pros ahead of public release.

Greg van Avermaet’s new Giant TCR Advanced Disc road bike 

CCC Team’s Greg van Avermaet has already been spotted ridingthe new Giant TCR Advanced SL race bike with rim brakes, but at the first of the 2020 Cobbled Classics in Belgium he was riding the disc brake version of this new bike.

It hasn’t been launched yet, but we know it’s coming because it’s on the UCI’s list of approved equipment, where it’s down as a 2021 model year bike. That would indicate a launch before the end of the summer for it to line up with deliveries into bike shops.

How the current coronavirus situation might impact such new bike launches this year is anyone’s guess.

With our guessing hat on, this new Giant TCR looks like a case of subtle refinements rather than a radical redesign. The company has been evolving the TCR over many years and it looks like it has kept the focus on stiffness-to-weight ratio, which was a key design principle when the current model launched.

It also obviously means it has avoided the trend for taking it in an aerodynamic direction, though we wouldn’t be surprised if it had made a few changes where possible without sacrificing the key goals of this model.

The most notable changes are at the front, where there’s a slimmer fork and the head tube looks like it has been beefed up a bit. In this team spec it doesn’t appear that the integration of cables at the handlebar and stem has been maximised to the extent we’re seeing with other new bikes being launched currently.

Bucking another trend is the decision to stick with seat stays that join the seat tube at the top tube, rather than the current design trend for dropped seat stays. This is another indication that Giant hasn’t been chasing aero gains with this new TCR.

There’s still an ISM (integrated seat mast) on this new TCR, a feature which has been a hallmark of Giant’s top-end frames for many years. It might make resale tricky, but it does likely offer weight, aero and compliance benefits compared to conventional seatposts that need a clamp.

Van Avermaet's bike is specced with a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, with additional sprint shifters in the drops, and hydraulic disc brakes. It’s rolling on Cadex carbon wheels, a new brand of wheels from Giant using the resurrection of an old name.

These are 42mm deep and fitted with Vittoria Corsa Control 28mm tyres. Vittoria really is the tyre of choice in the professional peloton at the moment. The saddle is also from the new range of Cadex components, and the handlebar and stem are Giant Contact SLR branded items.

And it’s gold. Did we mention it’s gold? That's a nod to Greg’s Olympic success back in 2016. It certainly makes it easy for the team mechanic to pick his bike off the team car in a hurry.

Sram Red eTap AXS goes big

As well as the the new TCR, our interest was piqued by a new Sram chainring being showcased on World Champion Mads Pederson’s bike.

The latest Sram Red eTap AXS is a groupset with some significant changes to the convention, with a small 10t sprocket on the 12-speed cassette and smaller chainrings than you get from a top-tier Shimano or Campagnolo groupset.

It doesn’t seem like all the Trek-Segafredo pros are gelling with the smaller chainrings, and the prototype 54/41t chainrings - bigger than the largest 50/37t you can currently buy - that were first spotted at last year’s Tour de France are much nearer being production ready.

Last year they were black chainrings bolted to a more conventional crank arm, but on these Trek Madone bikes are silver chainrings integrated into the power meter spider. That obviously helps them to stand out less than last year, you need to really get up close to tell they’re non-standard, and also suggests that perhaps Sram is ready to go public and launch them to the world.

If it does, will it be seen as a bit of back pedalling or simply caving in to the demands of the pros, whose demands are quite different to the regular cyclists Sram also hopes to sell this groupset to?

Sram’s Geraldine Bergeron said, 'Occasionally our top athletes request bigger gears that would not be the optimal choice for 99% of riders but fit the unique requirements of the WorldTour and the fastest racers on the planet.

'We’re happy to provide our teams with as many options as they need to be successful. We’ll continue to use data, rider input and experience as we develop the best cycling products in the world.’

So it seems unlikely we'll see these chainsets on the shop floor in the season to come. Sad news for those riders who enjoy a 54/10 gear ratio.