Triathlon multisport watches 6 of the best reviewed

Gear > Tri-tech

Multisports watches now let you monitor nearly every physiological variable known to man, from heart rate to calories. But do they improve your triathlon performance, and how accurate are they? Let’s find out…

Believe the claims and the right multisport watch will have Alistair Brownlee and Lucy Charles chasing your shadow. The hyperbole is a turn-off for committed sceptics but wade through the marketing and, though they might not win you an Olympic gold, they’ll certainly have you training smarter and racing faster.

Just be aware of the pitfalls. Many a triathlete has been lured into purchase by a long and ‘scientifically-proven’ features list only to realise a month later that 99% of its capability simply isn’t required. If you’ve never used a heart rate monitor and are training for 3-4hrs a week, for example, will your triathlon performance benefit from spending upwards of £300 on a wrist device that monitors your aerobic capacity, run cadence and cycling fatigue rating?

Also, remember that some of the metrics offered – ground contact time, for instance – are useful but arguably maximised by the intervention of a coach. Then again, if you’re aiming for podium finishes, digging deep will be worth it. You’ll refine your training, resulting in greater gains for the same effort.

But beyond our test, do your own research to confirm the efficacy of many ‘performance-changing’ features. Take sleep tracking, which is primarily monitored by the user’s movement. The gold standard requires measuring brainwaves and eye movement, which even a top-end Garmin or Suunto can’t do. Instead, watches or bands combine an accelerometer and an algorithm to estimate the quality and quantity of your sleep. Recent Chinese research highlights just how inaccurate this method is.

GARMIN FR935 

 £469.99

Garmin’s FR935 is near identical to their lauded Fenix 5, albeit in a plastic bezel rather than a metal one. That saves weight without sacrificing looks. Highlights on the extensive feature list includes training status, which measures your recent history and performance indicators to let you know if you’re training productively, and an anaerobic training effect metric which, we believe, is the first of its kind and designed to measure your ability to resist fatigue. Both are useful for the top-end triathlete and, like many features, grows in accuracy over time as it collates and stores session data. The TrainingPeaks app comes as standard and an optical sensor tracks your HR, but you’ll have to buy a chest strap for run metrics. Impressively you can download data over Wi-Fi, and Connect IQ affords you access to hundreds of fitness apps. garmin.co.uk

Verdict: Simply a brilliant multisport watch…but at a huge price 88%

Buy from www.garmin.com

TIMEX IRONMAN CLASSIC 30 

 £49.99

Let’s start with the price – it’s £220 cheaper than the next cheapest, which is cheap but you do get what you pay for. There’s no GPS, apps or session sharing; instead, the standout feature is that it’s waterproof so you can monitor your timings during the swim. Clocking a session length’s about as detailed as it gets, although ‘it comes with a 24-hour countdown timer complete with stop and repeat functions’ for the most hardcore of endurance athletes.
Its name derives from its ‘distinctive’ 30-lap recall, which you can recall onthe fly. Those looks are also dated, though some might appreciate the retro aesthetic, there’s an occasions button where you can preset 15 reminders and a backlight button for easy viewing in the dark. And the dark ages is where this watch comes from. www.timex.co.uk

Verdict: Rewind 20 years and this watch would still be outdated; you get what you pay for 59%

Buy from www.amazon.co.uk/Timex-Ironman-Classic

£399

Suunto’s Spartan has done away with the chest strap, instead choosing heart-rate tech from respected brand Valencell. Both parties state its optical sensor is the most accurate on the market and it certainly proved reliable, but suffered like many during high-intensity running. It’s also not active when swimming, though we appreciate the pool intervals and GPS accuracy. You can track 80 sports including tri, but with peak GPS connection limiting battery life to up to 10hrs, it’s no use for many iron athletes. It’s easy to use thanks to a mix of three buttons and the touchscreen. It’s an activity tracker, too, counting steps and calories burnt, but doesn’t offer sleep tracking. Estimates of your VO2max and EPOC (exercise post-oxygen consumption) figures are useful but only as accurate as they can be when derived from algorithms. www.suunto.com

Verdict: Typically feature-packed but we’d go for the chest-strap version, which is £40 cheaper  79%

Buy from www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/p/suunto-spartan-sport

Continue reading our guide to this year’s best training watches (2/2)

Go to Source

How to climb like a pro during the bike leg

Training

When the road kicks uphill, the power you produce on your bike determines how fast you reach the top, but without good cycling technique you will struggle to climb efficiently. Here’s what you should do

Before you hit the climb, try to anticipate which chainring you’ll need to be in. On rolling roads or short ramps, it can be more efficient to carry your momentum and attack the climb in your big ring. Be wary though of expending too much energy, especially if racing long course, and avoid chainring shifts under load as a dropped chain will cost you significant time. 

Cassette and chainring combination: how to choose the right set-up

What are the advantages of a triple crankset with a standard cassette?

On these ‘power climbs’, you’ll stand out of your saddle, but don’t waste energy by excessively throwing your bike from side to side and remember to keep you head up.

Cycling up hills: when you should sit and when you should stand

On longer climbs, where the gradient allows, seated climbing is most efficient, although standing out of the saddle every 5 minutes or so can give your back and backside a bit of a break. You don’t need to be spinning crazy Chris Froome cadences but 80rpm-plus is a good target for the majority of riders. 

A smooth and even pedal stroke is also desirable for efficient climbing, spreading the load across a number of muscle groups rather than quad-dominant pedal mashing. The best way to develop ‘souplesse’ pedalling (a phrase used to describe a fluid pedalling style, that appears almost effortless – think Bradley Wiggins) is to use rollers in
training and focus on producing an even whir from them. Changes in pitch or volume of the noise they’re producing equates to an uneven stroke. 

You might be able to ride very gentle climbs on your aerobars but, as a rule of thumb, once your speed drops below 20kmph, you’re better off sitting up and sacrificing the aero benefits for power production and comfort.

Your hands should be on your bullhorns or, if there’s room, either side of your stem. On a road bike, they should be on the hoods or the bar-tops. Whatever position, alway have in mind that an efficient climbing technique starts with a relaxed grip. 

A relaxed grip means relaxed arms, relaxed shoulders and a relaxed upper body. A relaxed upper body is a still upper body and that equates to minimal wasted energy.

TOP TIP

We’re all different and studies have shown that optimal cadence is hugely individual. Follow guidelines but don’t stress if spinning doesn’t feel right to you, some people are just grinders. Experiment in training, ride hills and find what works for you.

Cycling up hills: when you should sit and when you should stand

How to prepare for hilly bike sections

How to improve your bike climbing

Is a road bike or triathlon bike best for a hilly Ironman?

Go to Source

Tapering why its important and what you should do the week before your triathlon

Coaching athletes means keeping an eye on whether they’re following their training. Back in May, I noticed an athlete hadn’t completed his session at Zone 4 as per his plan. I asked him why and got this reply: “To be honest, I thought it was a mistake as it was so close to race day, so I did it easy.” He’s not alone in his thinking, either. Most age-groupers think ‘it’s tapering, I can slow down and relax’. So is the idea of ‘tapering’ actually one big scam? 

Well, even if tapering is defined as an ‘intentional reduction in the athlete’s training load before an objective competition’ (Stephen J. McGregor, Tapering and Peaking for Races), the reduction in volume doesn’t mean a reduction in intensity. Because losing both volume and intensity in the tapering period can actually be detrimental to your performance. So, how can you get rid of fatigue yet be fresh for your race? We asked five experts to give you all the answers.

1. TRAINING LOAD

Joe Friel is the author of top training books Going Long and The Triathlete’s Training Bible, and is one of the founders of the online training software, TrainingPeaks

Several studies have shown that in order to get into good shape and be prepared for an event, a reduction in training volume can improve the race performance if the intensity is maintained. Volume here is the duration of the workouts rather than their frequency.

“Tapering is all about becoming fresh while maintaining a relatively high race-preparedness,” says Joe Friel. His normal prescription of volume reduction during the tapering depends on each athlete and the length of the tapering. It usually fluctuates from a 30% up to a 50% reduction compared to the volumes of the build period.

“In the last 2-3 weeks [of the plan and ahead of the A-race], I reduce training volume, in general, from what it had been in the build period by 30-50% depending on the length of the taper – about 30% for 3 weeks and 50% for 2 weeks,” he says.

Depending on the race length, the tapering window becomes even more specific. “The longer the race, the longer the taper,” says Friel. “That’s because the preparation before long races usually imposes much greater stress on the athlete, so it takes longer to remove it. But there are exceptions.”

Even though both elite athletes and age-groupers benefit from tapering, their actual response to it, and how it’s scheduled, differs. “Elite athletes tend to recover much more quickly from stressful training than age-groupers, so elites are likely to benefit more from a shorter taper,” says Friel.

Because of the specifics of swimming, biking and running, the tapering approach to each discipline can also differ. “The decrease is greatest for the run due to the orthopedic stress it puts on the legs,” says Friel. “So I’d typically start that discipline’s taper three weeks out. Then around two weeks out I’d taper the bike… And for the swim, the taper is about a week. The swim is the easiest to recover from so that’s why it can wait longer.”

You might have also started to feel niggles and are worried you’re getting injured during the taper – that’s the ‘tapering syndrome’ reveals Friel. “It’s when an athlete senses aches, pains, or even slight injuries while tapering. Nothing is being done by the athlete that would produce such sensations – yet it seems to be quite common.”

2. TRAINING INTENSITY

Richard Laidlowis the lead coach of Sancture Sportifs, a triathlon academy based in the French Pyrenees. His son Sam, 18, won the ETU Junior European Cup in 2016.

In order to maintain a high level of fitness ahead of the event, high-intensity training must be preserved. This will sharpen your race-readiness and form. A double decrease – i.e. in both volume and intensity – could lead to lethargic performance. Still, every athlete is different and every race presents a different bill.

“It varies from athlete to athlete; there’s no secret formula, and also it depends on what they’re actually training for and the training load leading into their A-race,” says coach Richard Laidlow. “From an intensity point of view, I’d keep the intensity relatively similar and put in one or two sharp intervals where their intensity would increase by 1-2%. But it depends what training the athletes have done before.”

Although the taper is mostly tailored to each individual athlete, Laidlow often applies intense sessions within the tapering of all his athletes. “Quite often I’d get the athletes going up to short VO2max sessions, because what I’ve noticed is athletes tend to get lethargic. So, if they’ve gone from a high volume and they drop down to a lower volume two weeks prior to their major race, they start feeling lethargic because they haven’t put in the actual effort.

“In taking them into short VO2max sort of intervals, for example 30:30 (30secs hard, 30 easy), that keeps the athletes sharp without putting too much stress into it. 

“What I try to do in the final week,” adds Laidlow, “is ‘triples’: with 30sec intervals with 1:30min jogs in between, just to keep the athletes sharp and fast (do one of these for each discipline). But it depends again on who they are and what training they’ve done.”

But there’s another component that plays a role in preparing the athletes for the race: their mindset. “The physiological aspect for me isn’t as important as the psychological aspect within a short period of time,” adds Laidlow. “If an athlete is taking off too much training for two weeks before the race, they can think that they’re going to lose fitness.”

3. REST & RECOVERY 

California-based Brit Matt Dixon is the coach of many top pro athletes, the author of The Well-Built Triathlete and head coach of Purplepatch coaching.

As far as recovery and sleep during the tapering period go, the last thing you want to do is to reinvent the wheel in the final stretch. “Familiarity and consistency are the keys,” says Matt Dixon. “People are always looking for something magic in the taper – and, in fact, the magic thing is familiarity.

“In the taper, you don’t need to start taking huge naps during the day and you don’t suddenly need to start sleeping 10hrs a day. Sleep your regular amount, make sure it’s good quality sleep and make sure you’re not compromising it.”

Because age-groupers are trying to integrate training with a busy life, says Dixon, sleep is something that they sometimes sacrifice. “Many people end up arriving at races very fit, but fatigued. The reason is that they’ve followed a training programme that’s too focused on the simple accumulation of training hours, rather than actually a pragmatic training programme where they truly maximise the number of hours that they have. 

“One of the common casualties of an age-grouper’s training plan is sleep,” continues Dixon. “Sleep is the most important recovery tool athletes have and it has to be part of the programme. I’d rather people train slightly less and do it effectively, rather than compromising their sleep.”

Struggle to sleep after exercise?

ix ways to sleep like an athlete

Scientists find sleep deprivation affects athletic performance considerably

Instead of over-tapering ahead of the event because of the accumulated fatigue, Dixon suggests including in the plan a pre-tapering period of 2-4 days before the taper itself when the priority is sleep – just to rejuvenate and get fresh again.

Finally, there are three key things that you shouldn’t forget in the tapering weeks. “Number one is you don’t want to enter a taper period really tired and have to try digging yourself out of a hole. A good clean out before you’re actually into the sharpening last two weeks is good. The second thing is that you want to maintain the same pattern and rhythm of training. Number three, don’t introduce anything else; the body responds best to familiarity.”

4. RACE-WEEK NUTRITION

Will Girling is the head nutritionist for the ONE Pro cycling team and personal nutritionist to a number of triathletes.

Often considered tri’s fourth discipline, nutrition plays a crucial role in an athlete’s training program, particularly on long events like 70.3 and full Ironman. The main point to keep in mind isn’t to try new things during the taper.

“I just make sure that the athletes have enough calorie intake to match their calorie expenditure. And also, that they still get the optimal ratio of carbohydrates, proteins and fats for what they need to do,” says Will Girling. “In this period I make sure that weight gain isn’t happening as the training volume decreases.

“I wouldn’t say that there’s something extravagant happening in the week leading up to a race,” continues Girling, “but in the last few days coming up to the race, that’s the most crucial time for nutrition: the carb-loading starts coming in and then other factors like fibre reduction, potentially.”

Although it helps digestion, fibre tends to stay longer in your digestive tract and could cause stomach distress. But what about the most important – and perhaps misunderstood – aspect for an endurance athlete ahead of a race, namely the carb-loading?

“Carb-loading is a funny one,” says Girling. “There are several different ways to do it. Historically, carb-loading has been done three days before an event, but recent studies have shown that you can get the same level of muscle glycogen storage (what you’re trying to store in carb-loading) in one day. This is by consuming 10g of carbs/per kg of body weight the day before.

“I do a modified taper for an Ironman as it’s longer, and I normally do a 36hr carb-loading. This would be the full day beforehand carb-loading, and then normally the afternoon and evening two days out. What I find here is that you get the maximum amount of storage, but you’re not having two three to four days of really high consumption – which can mentally be quite difficult as athletes can worry about their weight and that could be psychologically detrimental as they feel heavier.”

As nutrition is unique for every athlete, make sure you practise it well ahead of your main race, in your B-races, long training rides and runs.

5. RACING MINDSET

Non Stanford: Welsh short-course star Non Stanford is the 2013 ITU World Triathlon Series Champion, who finished fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympic Game

Arriving physically and mentally fresh at the taper is crucial to performing well. At the same time, for a busy athlete, it’s hard to concentrate just on training. Furthermore, even a short trip to the race destination can put a lot of stress on your body: mentally, physically and emotionally.

“You’d imagine that you’d suddenly have lots of time on your hands, but the ‘extra’ hours are quickly filled; packing, organising, travelling, race briefings, team meetings… Race weeks are often quite busy so you don’t have time to worry about the lower training volumes,” says Non Stanford. “The biggest psychological factor is the impending race, rather than the taper. Building apprehension, excitement and emotions, these are probably the hardest things to try and comprehend.”

Stanford’s tapering depends mostly on the significance of the race rather than on its distance (sprint or Olympic), and the most important race of the season is normally the ITU WTS Grand Final. A full taper would start the weekend before the race and it’d involve less volume, but still quality sessions. “The role of tapering,” she says,
“is equally important for the
mind and the body.

“Some of it’s trial and error and finding what works best for you. There’s definitely a degree of ‘superstition’ to everyone’s taper week, too; if there’s something specific that you’ve done during one particular taper and you’ve subsequently raced well, it’ll probably become part of your regular taper routine, just in case. Generally, though, you should get to the start line well rested and well fuelled. Put your feet up as much as possible, eat good, nutritious food, keep hydrated and stay relaxed both mentally and physically.”

An evergreen tip is to do a recce of the course before the race. “Knowing the course, and what lies ahead is important, especially if the the bike is known to be technical,” says Non. “I always like to try and ride and run the course beforehand and, where possible, see a course profile a few weeks or months out so that I can specifically prepare as best possible. But this isn’t always doable and I’ve definitely raced a few races ‘blind’, with both good and bad results!” 

Go to Source

Free 4 week duathlon training plan

Training > Training plans

Don’t want the multisport party to stop? Then it’s time to switch focus to duathlon and race strong to the end of the year. Here’s a four week training plan to help you make the switchover from triathlon to duathlon.

Transitioning from the tri season to duathlon is more tricky than many athletes would anticipate. The time spent on swim sessions needs to be used up elsewhere and getting the balance of bike and run time will depend on your background and weaknesses. Duathlon is a run-dominant sport; looking at a standard distance there’s 50% more running than normal, which means a very different set of sessions. And, in many cases, it’s physically more demanding as the impact of running is greater than swimming.

How to train for a duathlon

Duathlon race day: 12 tips for success

3 essential duathlon training sessions

The training plan here is based on the intermediate triathlete who has a foundation of training hours in the bank. Four weeks is not a large amount of time to transition seamlessly into a duathlon but as long as you’ve been training regularly through the summer, and don’t have any underlying injuries, then it’s long enough. Just like any other training plan there needs to be a balance of intensity in the training week, so some sessions focus on endurance and aerobic workouts, whereas others are interval-style sessions and focus on improving speed and power.

The most common mistake is struggling to pace the first run correctly. We feel strong going into the first run and begin to get excited by our times, but then our legs feel tired on the bike. We’re often taught to limit the use of our legs during a swim, but there’s no way out of this in duathlon, so brick sessions are easily the most important session of the week.

Using these sessions to learn what pace will allow you to bike strong is vital. Start by reducing your normal 10km race pace by 10-20secs per km and see how that feels – if you’re able to bike strong and then go out and run again you’re close to the right pace. If you struggle, then keep experimenting with the pace to find your ideal strategy. If you’re able to execute a strong second run where your pace is as close as possible to the first run, then you’ll probably overtake people!


Thanks to our 220 Triathlon Club of the Year 2017, Leeds & Bradford Triathlon Club, who let us join them at one of their brick training sessions for this feature’s pics. The category was sponsored by Skechers, so we also dropped off their prize of 20 pairs of run shoes!

Dermott’s top tips for duathlon

1. BRICK IT

Don’t neglect the importance of brick-style sessions. It’s crucial that you know what it feels like to run on tired legs, and all styles of brick are vital to a great race outcome.

2. PRACTISE TRANSITIONS

Develop your transition technique. With no wetsuit, it’s all about the changeover of footwear. Even indoor sessions should include swapping bike shoes for run shoes

3. WORK OUT RUN PACE

Many duathlons are ruined by hitting the first run too hard, so the remaining bike and run are a disaster. Use the brick sessions to establish a strong, first-run pace

4. KNOW THE COURSE

If the course includes some climbing then train on hills in the longer sessions. Make hills your friend! For a flatter course, spend time on your tri-bars in training

Top duathlon age grouper Samuel Pictor on training and competing

Go to Source

Freestyle swim technique how to improve your rotation and position

When it comes to cycling, much is made of manoeuvring yourself into a streamlined position. The aim? To reduce your frontal profile. In turn, air resistance is less, meaning you roll further for every revolution. The same is true when it comes to swim propulsion. By making yourself as aerodynamic as possible, the impact of drag is reduced, ensuring you save energy and increase speed; in fact, it’s perhaps even more important than on the bike as water is 750 times denser than air. So how do you achieve a more speed-friendly position? That’s a very good question…

Learn to relax

Starting from the top, you don’t need us to tell you how important it is to swim with a sense of relaxation. This relatively straightforward aspect of swimming frequently eludes many triathletes because of an impending sense of urgency and intensity to keep up or increase swimming speed. The good news is, at this time of year, you can take a step back from all the effort and determination that goes into racing and work on developing a smoother, relaxed and more efficient swimming stroke, without feeling you’re being left behind.

A quick word to the wise: in order to effect change, it’s essential that you work with more control and feel within the water environment. The practices prescribed here will, at first, feel considerably slower and, at times, more frustrating due to the lack of momentum, which will be missing by not performing the complete swimming stroke. 

Improving your component skills will require a great deal of repeated practice – so stick with it. These drills are effective and the systematic order of the progressions will help you build a key foundation to your new, improved swimming technique. 

They’ll help you to develop a much greater sense of control, relaxation and awareness of your own body balance in the water. Repeat these drills every time you visit the pool and you’ll find that, within a week or two, you’ll improve on these skills dramatically. 

Remember: your head position is important. If you lift your head high during any of these drills, you’ll find it extremely difficult to stay level in the water. 

What’s the correct head position in front crawl?

5 drills

1. Learning to relax

Perform a mushroom float in the water. Take a deep breath and gently hug your knees underneath you. Hold your breath for up to 15secs and, as the seconds tick by, try to relax as much as possible within the held position. You’ll most likely find that you gradually float upward so that your back bobs on the surface of the water. An unfortunate few will gradually sink due to your high body density. This isn’t a major issue as far as swimming is concerned, but highlights the fact that the correct body balance and stroke technique will be essential if you’re going to swim to your potential.

2. Relax in a horizontal floating position 

This floating drill is performed with a pull buoy between your thighs to give your legs some added support and buoyancy. The important points are to keep your head in a neutral position and hold your arms out to your sides, just above a crucifix position. This drill feels great and you’ll experience how relaxing a flotation chamber might be. As you can see from the pictures, this really puts you in an excellent horizontal position that’ll help greatly when we come to introduce the swim strokes.

3. The front-streamlined kick position

The front-streamlined kicking drill is an excellent way to learn how to maintain a streamlined horizontal position while moving forward. Overlap your hands and stretch them out in front of you. You’ll notice how low your head is, as it’s tucked down between your extended arms. “When do you breathe?” we hear you ask. Try not to! The idea is that you try to remain relaxed and kick in this position as far as possible before taking a breath – normally between 15-25m will suffice. Practise kicking in this position repeatedly over short distances. Fins will help with momentum and allow the legs to be effective so that you can experience a sense of speed. Learn to do this drill well before you progress to the next drill.

4. Streamlined kick with one arm extended

There are two advantages of performing this drill well. Firstly, you’re learning how to rotate your body without causing disruption to your streamlined position. Secondly, you’re practising learning how to breathe in and out in time with the rotation of your body. Both of these aspects will make life much easier when the complete swimming stroke is performed.

To practise this drill efficiently, hold a small float in your extended hand while your opposite arm remains still by your side [1]. Using a positive and continuous leg action, preferably with fins, roll your body slowly to one side only, in order to practise the breathing cycle [2]. Don’t forget to exhale into the water just prior to rolling to the side. The important points of this drill are to guarantee that your body remains in a horizontal position when you roll to the side to breathe in [3]. Also, make sure that you return your head all the way back to the centre as you roll back to the mid-line. Notice that your head is still held in a low position at this stage of development. 

5. Full-body rotation drill with breathing

This drill will help you develop a slow and controlled body rotation while, at the same time, learning how to integrate the breathing cycle on both sides of your body. It’s vital that you use fins during this drill, and kick with a vigorous and consistent leg action; the legs provide all of the momentum and the stability while you roll to breathe. Keep both arms by your sides [1] and, while keeping your body in a horizontal plane, slowly rotate around the body’s central axis to firstly breathe in on one side [2-3]. Then, slowly rotate back to the mid-line, where you’ll exhale just as you roll towards the opposite side to breathe in once again.

Go to Source

Luis wins Rotterdam but Mola takes 2nd world title

News > ITU

Frenchman Vincent Luis wins his first WTS since 2015 WTS Hamburg, with Mola taking third and the World title for the 2nd year running.

Conditions were wet, slippy and cold for the WTS final in Rotterdam, the first time the Dutch city had featured on the WTS  calendar.

WTS leader Spaniard Mario Mola, was the man to beat, and had to finish in the top 5 to defend his 2016 title  – on paper a straightforward task but with difficult conditions, a strong field and a twisty bike course, it was imperative that stayed in touch with any breaks that would take place.

As predicted Richard Varga from Slovakia led the swim, with Britain’s Jonny Brownlee exiting 8 secs down and Mola exiting 26secs down, one of his best swims of the season.

The early lead bike group of 15 included Brownlee, the newly crowned 70.3 World Champ Javier Gomez, Luis, Varga, Ben Kanute from USA, and Aaron Royle from Australia, With Mola, Fernando Alarza (ESP) and Richard Murray (RSA) all in the first chase pack just 20 seconds back.

By the end of lap one this gap had reduced to 15secs and despite efforts by Brownlee and  Kanute to make a break the two groups merged just after two laps in.

Brownlee set out on the run meaning business with Kristian Blummenfelt from Norway, and for a short time they had a slight advantage. However they were soon caught by Gomez and Luis with Mola in 5th – the position that he needed to maintain if he was to retain the title.

Still obviously off-form and far from feeling his best, a struggling Brownlee couldn’t maintain the pace and the fight for the podium became a battle  between Louis and Blummenfelt for first and second, and Mola and Gomez for third and fourth. Luis would prove the stronger and took to the front with a hundred yards to go, while Mola out sprinted fellow teammate Gomez to take the podium’s final spot, and the world title. He becomes the second man after Gomez to win back-to-back titles.

Go to Source

3 Tour de Franceinspired road bikes under 2200 tested and rated for triathlon

The dust may have settled on another epic Tour de France and but there is a way to keep the memories alive: by riding one of the showpiece bikes of the 2017 edition. Happily, there are also plenty of multisport benefits to the bikes chosen by cycling’s greatest riders. They 

offer versatility for tackling flat courses and hilly routes, will adapt for both training and tri racing experiences and with a pair of clip-on tri-bars attached, will provide plenty of multisport-friendly aerodynamic benefits.

A Tour bike purchase also doesn’t need to break the bank. While the 198 pro riders at the Tour were racing bling-laden bikes that are out of the price bracket for most of us, thanks to trickle-down technology you can enjoy much
of the experience of riding a Tour-quality bike for a couple of grand, in some cases with the same or very similar frames.

The three Tour de France flyers here come from different countries, and from companies with very different histories. One of them is a full-on aero road bike, while the other two have prominent aero features. But to keep traditionalists happy there isn’t a disc brake in sight, though some of the bikes are also available with disc brakes.

At the Tour, Taiwan-based Giant’s bikes were ridden by Sunweb’s riders – including Tom Dumoulin who took this year’s Giro D’Italia on a TCR similar to the TCR Advanced 1 we’re testing – which looks very impressively kitted out with full Shimano Ultegra and an appealing sub-£1,800 price tag.

The French team Direct-Energie have Thomas Voeckler in their team and ride bikes from a less common visitor to these pages, the Spanish company BH, whose G6 aero road bike we’re putting to the test.

Our final entry is another headline team sponsor. The Cannondale-Drapac team includes Pierre Rolland in its ranks. They’re on exotic, super-expensive SuperSix Evo machines from the Americans; we’re on a £2,100 SuperSix with Shimano Ultegra and 24mm-deep Mavic Aksium wheels.

AERODYNAMIC ARMOURY 

The Giant TCR is one of the longest-standing designs in road cycling and, though a lot has changed since its birth in the mid 1990s, its creator Mike Burrows would probably still recognise his handiwork. But the round and skinny aluminium tubes have gone, the far-too-flexible adjustable stem consigned to history and the frame isn’t as strikingly compact.

This Giant is also made in six sizes rather than the original three, which makes it easier to get a correct fit, though goes against Giant’s original ethos of making drastically fewer sizes to reduce tooling and manufacturing costs. As with some of the original models it comes with an aero seatpost, which Burrows always considered an important part of a bike’s aerodynamic armoury.

As is often the case with Giant it scores immediately with its kit. Most bikes this far under £2,000 come with Shimano 105, perhaps even with cost-cutting non-standard chainset or brakes; the Giant has a complete Ultegra groupset save for an 11-speed KMC chain. As a bike with all-round credentials it has the slightly less racy 50/34 compact chainset paired with the 11-28 cassette, which covers what most of us will ever need and is pretty much the go-to choice.

Shimano 105 and Ultegra are similar, but it’s impressive during these days of the free-falling pound to find a complete Ultegra groupset at this price. And very welcome. The Giant’s shifting and braking are faultless, and it shaves a few grams compared with its slightly lesser
105 stablemate.

Like some other bike makers (see Orbea), Beistegui Hermanos started off manufacturing weapons, in BH’s case making rifles way back in 1909. It moved on to bikes in 1919 and now makes 200,000 a year. It sponsors the French Direct Energie team, and one of the bikes in their line-up is the BH G6 Pro aero road bike. Voeckler and co. will be on very similar frames, albeit with swankier kit and wheels than our bike.

Aero road bikes have been with us for a few years, and the earliest of the species were leaden-feeling and heavy. Fortunately, things have changed, and the weight of this BH is within a few grams of both the Cannondale and Giant – an immediate score for BH, whose designers have clearly worked hard. The frame has a claimed weight of just 860g, a fine achievement for a £2,000 aero bike.

AN HONOURABLE HISTORY

American brand Cannondale’s SuperSix, meanwhile, has an honourable history, and the 2017 incarnation looks like it’ll live up to the heritage when we unbox it. It’s bang on what you’d expect at north of £2,000: Ultegra rather than 105, a slimline carbon seatpost, an oversized head tube, pretty much oversize everything else and, because it’s a Cannondale, it has the BB30A bottom bracket system the company helped to developed. The just-under 8kg weight is also typical; light-ish but still a kilo more than a Tour bike ridden by the likes of Pierre Rolland.

Although Cannondale cut its competitive teeth with aluminium back in the days of Ronald Reagan, it’s been manufacturing in carbon since 2005 after a brief flirtation with the carbon/alloy Six13 frame in 2004. The all-carbon SystemSix followed in 2007, leading us a decade later to this silver and green bullet. (Wondering about the numbers? Six is the atomic number of carbon and 13 is aluminium).

The kit is mainly Shimano Ultegra. It works – and very well. The only groupset deviations are Cannondale’s own chainset and FSA rings in the slightly racier 52/36 combo, paired with the near-ubiquitous 11-28 cassette. It shifts as well as full Ultegra and frankly we’d be hard pressed to feel the difference, though the Si/FSA unit helps the Cannondale stand out from the crowd. The wheels are Mavic’s familiar Aksiums with their 25mm Yksion Elite stablemate tyres. They’re not that light but they’re tough.

BIG FRIENDLY GIANT

Even in these days of oversized and tapered steerers, the Giant is, well, a giant, with its huge 11/2-11/8in ‘Overdrive’ steerer. This contributes to impressive control, quick and precise whatever the circumstances. And while all the other bikes hover within a few grams of 8kg, you can feel the Giant’s lower weight when you lift it up and, more importantly, when you’re climbing. Its stiffness and more compact frame make for a rewarding climb in or out of the saddle, and it descends with nigh-on perfect control.

As for geometry, there’s little to differentiate the TCR from the opposition: tried-and-trusted parallel 73° angles, short head tube, sub-metre wheelbase, aggressive reach and stack figures. It all makes for taut handling and a sharp responsive ride. So far so good, but nothing out of the ordinary. What really separates the TCR from the others is just how smooth and comfortable it is, the equal of most endurance bikes. And Giant’s own components help here, with quality bar, stem, tape and carbon aero seatpost, which copes with everything apart from the very biggest bumps. But it purrs along even on light gravel, and over a couple of miles of unsurfaced singletrack on our test route you could up the speed with confidence and stay comfortable.

There’s no mistaking that the Cannondale is a racing thoroughbred, its 73.5° head and 73° seat angles combining with the tapered head tube for sharp, dynamic handling. The sub-metre wheelbase, short chainstays and short head tube are also testament to its competitive credentials. This isn’t a bike for pootling but pedalling at full pelt, where it’ll offer a slick and rewarding ride. But it’ll do all this and leave you coming back for more day after day without leaving you beaten up.

The slimline 25.4mm seatpost contributes to the comfort, as do the Delta seat tube, skinny seatstays and Prologo Kappa saddle. But let’s not forget that this isn’t an endurance machine, this is a race bike; fast, easy to manoeuvre and throw around, and solid as a rock around bends and on descents. Okay, the disc version will have better braking – though this bike’s excellent Ultegra calipers are about as good as rim brakes get – but you’re saving yourself £600, which isn’t to be sniffed at. Unusually, all of the cabling apart from the rear brake is externally routed. Not quite as neat perhaps, but lighter and easier to service.

While the Giant and Cannondale here are big all over, the BH combines svelteness in some areas and maximum volume elsewhere in order to combine aerodynamics with efficiency and power. So the chunky head tube houses a 11/2in headset steerer like the Giant’s, and there’s a chunky bottom bracket shell for the BB386 Evo bottom bracket; BB386 allows for a stiffer, more efficient carbon layup. But that tapered head tube morphs into a slim top tube and truncated aerofoil down tube, all pretty standard for an aero bike.

At the back-end it’s all pretty familiar, too: deep chainstays to cope with pedalling forces and gently arcing pencil-slim seatstays for rear-end comfort. Both the brakes are direct-mount 105 units, though the front feels better than the rear, which is okay without being impressive. And as it’s sited directly behind the bottom bracket it’ll pick up road-borne crud like it’s going out of fashion. The seatstay bridge isn’t drilled for a brake, so it’s the only option.

PACE, POISE AND PLUSHNESS

The Giant PR-2 wheels are well constructed and fine for a bike at this price, but a lighter or more aero set would allow the TCR’s inner beast to be fully unleashed on the triathlon course. As it stands, though, and considering the £1,775 price, it’s incredibly hard to fault the Giant TCR Advanced 1 – better still if there are any end-of-season sale offers on. It’s light, fast, comfortable, ideal for racing, long rides or just about anything you could name. Even the two-tone paintwork looks better in the flesh than it does in photographs or online. And its bigger Advanced SL0 brother propelled Tom Dumoulin to Giro victory this year, so it has cachet, too.

The ride of the BH itself is a treat. Its handling is as good as anything here. It gets up to speed smoothly and effortlessly, and it feels like you can eke out every watt as you ease up through the gears. The frame and semi-deep Vision wheels handle breezes well. There may have been a little more flex in the frame when climbing, but it isn’t enough to hamper the handling, and the same is true on descents as well. It’s not quite as flickable as the Cannondale, but it’s no slouch.This efficiency does produce a slight comfort penalty, however.

The BH comes with a seatpost that extends above the top tube junction: advantages include a stiffer, lighter frame, but transporting the bike is trickier and selling it on could prove more problematic, as it can’t be cut down. And even with skinny seatstays and 25mm rubber you can feel the firmness of the ride. But BH’s G6 Pro is still a strong challenger to aero bikes from bigger names, with a light, well-priced bike on a good set of wheels.

Just as with the SuperSix Evo Disc, you’re getting just about the spot-on balance of pace, poise and plushness with the Cannondale. Yes, you can stretch your racing legs on this, but, equally, if you want one bike for challenging your own PBs, besting your team-mates on your club ride or notching a ton in double-quick time then Cannondale’s silver-and-‘Berserker’ green is worth a very serious test ride

The overall verdict

As you’d expect if you parted with £2,000, you’ll get at the least a very good bike, and at best one that’s hard to beat. The Spanish company BH has delivered an aero road bike that handles well and, thanks to its light frame, comes in at a very good overall weight, though the seatmast-like seatpost makes the ride pretty firm. The SuperSix continues Cannondale’s reputation for making high-quality road bikes that should appeal to anybody who appreciates speed and slick handling.

But no matter how good the other bikes are, there can be only one winner, and it’s Giant that takes the gong with a very, very high rating. We score highly for ‘exceptional’ bikes and ‘genuine class leaders’ and we believe the Giant represents both those things. It’s the lightest here, has a full Ultegra groupset, a carbon seatpost and a performance that provides pretty much anything most of us could want. Its handling is pin-sharp, the acceleration snappy, the comfort first rate.

Go to Source

3 Tourinspired bikes under 2200 tested and rated for triathlon

The dust may have settled on another epic Tour de France and but there is a way to keep the memories alive: by riding one of the showpiece bikes of the 2017 edition. Happily, there are also plenty of multisport benefits to the bikes chosen by cycling’s greatest riders. They 

offer versatility for tackling flat courses and hilly routes, will adapt for both training and tri racing experiences and with a pair of clip-on tri-bars attached, will provide plenty of multisport-friendly aerodynamic benefits.

A Tour bike purchase also doesn’t need to break the bank. While the 198 pro riders at the Tour were racing bling-laden bikes that are out of the price bracket for most of us, thanks to trickle-down technology you can enjoy much
of the experience of riding a Tour-quality bike for a couple of grand, in some cases with the same or very similar frames.

The three Tour de France flyers here come from different countries, and from companies with very different histories. One of them is a full-on aero road bike, while the other two have prominent aero features. But to keep traditionalists happy there isn’t a disc brake in sight, though some of the bikes are also available with disc brakes.

At the Tour, Taiwan-based Giant’s bikes were ridden by Sunweb’s riders – including Tom Dumoulin who took this year’s Giro D’Italia on a TCR similar to the TCR Advanced 1 we’re testing – which looks very impressively kitted out with full Shimano Ultegra and an appealing sub-£1,800 price tag.

The French team Direct-Energie have Thomas Voeckler in their team and ride bikes from a less common visitor to these pages, the Spanish company BH, whose G6 aero road bike we’re putting to the test.

Our final entry is another headline team sponsor. The Cannondale-Drapac team includes Pierre Rolland in its ranks. They’re on exotic, super-expensive SuperSix Evo machines from the Americans; we’re on a £2,100 SuperSix with Shimano Ultegra and 24mm-deep Mavic Aksium wheels.

AERODYNAMIC ARMOURY 

The Giant TCR is one of the longest-standing designs in road cycling and, though a lot has changed since its birth in the mid 1990s, its creator Mike Burrows would probably still recognise his handiwork. But the round and skinny aluminium tubes have gone, the far-too-flexible adjustable stem consigned to history and the frame isn’t as strikingly compact.

This Giant is also made in six sizes rather than the original three, which makes it easier to get a correct fit, though goes against Giant’s original ethos of making drastically fewer sizes to reduce tooling and manufacturing costs. As with some of the original models it comes with an aero seatpost, which Burrows always considered an important part of a bike’s aerodynamic armoury.

As is often the case with Giant it scores immediately with its kit. Most bikes this far under £2,000 come with Shimano 105, perhaps even with cost-cutting non-standard chainset or brakes; the Giant has a complete Ultegra groupset save for an 11-speed KMC chain. As a bike with all-round credentials it has the slightly less racy 50/34 compact chainset paired with the 11-28 cassette, which covers what most of us will ever need and is pretty much the go-to choice.

Shimano 105 and Ultegra are similar, but it’s impressive during these days of the free-falling pound to find a complete Ultegra groupset at this price. And very welcome. The Giant’s shifting and braking are faultless, and it shaves a few grams compared with its slightly lesser
105 stablemate.

Like some other bike makers (see Orbea), Beistegui Hermanos started off manufacturing weapons, in BH’s case making rifles way back in 1909. It moved on to bikes in 1919 and now makes 200,000 a year. It sponsors the French Direct Energie team, and one of the bikes in their line-up is the BH G6 Pro aero road bike. Voeckler and co. will be on very similar frames, albeit with swankier kit and wheels than our bike.

Aero road bikes have been with us for a few years, and the earliest of the species were leaden-feeling and heavy. Fortunately, things have changed, and the weight of this BH is within a few grams of both the Cannondale and Giant – an immediate score for BH, whose designers have clearly worked hard. The frame has a claimed weight of just 860g, a fine achievement for a £2,000 aero bike.

AN HONOURABLE HISTORY

American brand Cannondale’s SuperSix, meanwhile, has an honourable history, and the 2017 incarnation looks like it’ll live up to the heritage when we unbox it. It’s bang on what you’d expect at north of £2,000: Ultegra rather than 105, a slimline carbon seatpost, an oversized head tube, pretty much oversize everything else and, because it’s a Cannondale, it has the BB30A bottom bracket system the company helped to developed. The just-under 8kg weight is also typical; light-ish but still a kilo more than a Tour bike ridden by the likes of Pierre Rolland.

Although Cannondale cut its competitive teeth with aluminium back in the days of Ronald Reagan, it’s been manufacturing in carbon since 2005 after a brief flirtation with the carbon/alloy Six13 frame in 2004. The all-carbon SystemSix followed in 2007, leading us a decade later to this silver and green bullet. (Wondering about the numbers? Six is the atomic number of carbon and 13 is aluminium).

The kit is mainly Shimano Ultegra. It works – and very well. The only groupset deviations are Cannondale’s own chainset and FSA rings in the slightly racier 52/36 combo, paired with the near-ubiquitous 11-28 cassette. It shifts as well as full Ultegra and frankly we’d be hard pressed to feel the difference, though the Si/FSA unit helps the Cannondale stand out from the crowd. The wheels are Mavic’s familiar Aksiums with their 25mm Yksion Elite stablemate tyres. They’re not that light but they’re tough.

BIG FRIENDLY GIANT

Even in these days of oversized and tapered steerers, the Giant is, well, a giant, with its huge 11/2-11/8in ‘Overdrive’ steerer. This contributes to impressive control, quick and precise whatever the circumstances. And while all the other bikes hover within a few grams of 8kg, you can feel the Giant’s lower weight when you lift it up and, more importantly, when you’re climbing. Its stiffness and more compact frame make for a rewarding climb in or out of the saddle, and it descends with nigh-on perfect control.

As for geometry, there’s little to differentiate the TCR from the opposition: tried-and-trusted parallel 73° angles, short head tube, sub-metre wheelbase, aggressive reach and stack figures. It all makes for taut handling and a sharp responsive ride. So far so good, but nothing out of the ordinary. What really separates the TCR from the others is just how smooth and comfortable it is, the equal of most endurance bikes. And Giant’s own components help here, with quality bar, stem, tape and carbon aero seatpost, which copes with everything apart from the very biggest bumps. But it purrs along even on light gravel, and over a couple of miles of unsurfaced singletrack on our test route you could up the speed with confidence and stay comfortable.

There’s no mistaking that the Cannondale is a racing thoroughbred, its 73.5° head and 73° seat angles combining with the tapered head tube for sharp, dynamic handling. The sub-metre wheelbase, short chainstays and short head tube are also testament to its competitive credentials. This isn’t a bike for pootling but pedalling at full pelt, where it’ll offer a slick and rewarding ride. But it’ll do all this and leave you coming back for more day after day without leaving you beaten up.

The slimline 25.4mm seatpost contributes to the comfort, as do the Delta seat tube, skinny seatstays and Prologo Kappa saddle. But let’s not forget that this isn’t an endurance machine, this is a race bike; fast, easy to manoeuvre and throw around, and solid as a rock around bends and on descents. Okay, the disc version will have better braking – though this bike’s excellent Ultegra calipers are about as good as rim brakes get – but you’re saving yourself £600, which isn’t to be sniffed at. Unusually, all of the cabling apart from the rear brake is externally routed. Not quite as neat perhaps, but lighter and easier to service.

While the Giant and Cannondale here are big all over, the BH combines svelteness in some areas and maximum volume elsewhere in order to combine aerodynamics with efficiency and power. So the chunky head tube houses a 11/2in headset steerer like the Giant’s, and there’s a chunky bottom bracket shell for the BB386 Evo bottom bracket; BB386 allows for a stiffer, more efficient carbon layup. But that tapered head tube morphs into a slim top tube and truncated aerofoil down tube, all pretty standard for an aero bike.

At the back-end it’s all pretty familiar, too: deep chainstays to cope with pedalling forces and gently arcing pencil-slim seatstays for rear-end comfort. Both the brakes are direct-mount 105 units, though the front feels better than the rear, which is okay without being impressive. And as it’s sited directly behind the bottom bracket it’ll pick up road-borne crud like it’s going out of fashion. The seatstay bridge isn’t drilled for a brake, so it’s the only option.

PACE, POISE AND PLUSHNESS

The Giant PR-2 wheels are well constructed and fine for a bike at this price, but a lighter or more aero set would allow the TCR’s inner beast to be fully unleashed on the triathlon course. As it stands, though, and considering the £1,775 price, it’s incredibly hard to fault the Giant TCR Advanced 1 – better still if there are any end-of-season sale offers on. It’s light, fast, comfortable, ideal for racing, long rides or just about anything you could name. Even the two-tone paintwork looks better in the flesh than it does in photographs or online. And its bigger Advanced SL0 brother propelled Tom Dumoulin to Giro victory this year, so it has cachet, too.

The ride of the BH itself is a treat. Its handling is as good as anything here. It gets up to speed smoothly and effortlessly, and it feels like you can eke out every watt as you ease up through the gears. The frame and semi-deep Vision wheels handle breezes well. There may have been a little more flex in the frame when climbing, but it isn’t enough to hamper the handling, and the same is true on descents as well. It’s not quite as flickable as the Cannondale, but it’s no slouch.This efficiency does produce a slight comfort penalty, however.

The BH comes with a seatpost that extends above the top tube junction: advantages include a stiffer, lighter frame, but transporting the bike is trickier and selling it on could prove more problematic, as it can’t be cut down. And even with skinny seatstays and 25mm rubber you can feel the firmness of the ride. But BH’s G6 Pro is still a strong challenger to aero bikes from bigger names, with a light, well-priced bike on a good set of wheels.

Just as with the SuperSix Evo Disc, you’re getting just about the spot-on balance of pace, poise and plushness with the Cannondale. Yes, you can stretch your racing legs on this, but, equally, if you want one bike for challenging your own PBs, besting your team-mates on your club ride or notching a ton in double-quick time then Cannondale’s silver-and-‘Berserker’ green is worth a very serious test ride

The overall verdict

As you’d expect if you parted with £2,000, you’ll get at the least a very good bike, and at best one that’s hard to beat. The Spanish company BH has delivered an aero road bike that handles well and, thanks to its light frame, comes in at a very good overall weight, though the seatmast-like seatpost makes the ride pretty firm. The SuperSix continues Cannondale’s reputation for making high-quality road bikes that should appeal to anybody who appreciates speed and slick handling.

But no matter how good the other bikes are, there can be only one winner, and it’s Giant that takes the gong with a very, very high rating. We score highly for ‘exceptional’ bikes and ‘genuine class leaders’ and we believe the Giant represents both those things. It’s the lightest here, has a full Ultegra groupset, a carbon seatpost and a performance that provides pretty much anything most of us could want. Its handling is pin-sharp, the acceleration snappy, the comfort first rate.

Go to Source

3 Tourinspired bikes under 2200 tested and rated for tri

The dust may have settled on another epic Tour de France and but there is a way to keep the memories alive: by riding one of the showpiece bikes of the 2017 edition. Happily, there are also plenty of multisport benefits to the bikes chosen by cycling’s greatest riders. They 

offer versatility for tackling flat courses and hilly routes, will adapt for both training and tri racing experiences and with a pair of clip-on tri-bars attached, will provide plenty of multisport-friendly aerodynamic benefits.

A Tour bike purchase also doesn’t need to break the bank. While the 198 pro riders at the Tour were racing bling-laden bikes that are out of the price bracket for most of us, thanks to trickle-down technology you can enjoy much
of the experience of riding a Tour-quality bike for a couple of grand, in some cases with the same or very similar frames.

The three Tour de France flyers here come from different countries, and from companies with very different histories. One of them is a full-on aero road bike, while the other two have prominent aero features. But to keep traditionalists happy there isn’t a disc brake in sight, though some of the bikes are also available with disc brakes.

At the Tour, Taiwan-based Giant’s bikes were ridden by Sunweb’s riders – including Tom Dumoulin who took this year’s Giro D’Italia on a TCR similar to the TCR Advanced 1 we’re testing – which looks very impressively kitted out with full Shimano Ultegra and an appealing sub-£1,800 price tag.

The French team Direct-Energie have Thomas Voeckler in their team and ride bikes from a less common visitor to these pages, the Spanish company BH, whose G6 aero road bike we’re putting to the test.

Our final entry is another headline team sponsor. The Cannondale-Drapac team includes Pierre Rolland in its ranks. They’re on exotic, super-expensive SuperSix Evo machines from the Americans; we’re on a £2,100 SuperSix with Shimano Ultegra and 24mm-deep Mavic Aksium wheels.

AERODYNAMIC ARMOURY 

The Giant TCR is one of the longest-standing designs in road cycling and, though a lot has changed since its birth in the mid 1990s, its creator Mike Burrows would probably still recognise his handiwork. But the round and skinny aluminium tubes have gone, the far-too-flexible adjustable stem consigned to history and the frame isn’t as strikingly compact.

This Giant is also made in six sizes rather than the original three, which makes it easier to get a correct fit, though goes against Giant’s original ethos of making drastically fewer sizes to reduce tooling and manufacturing costs. As with some of the original models it comes with an aero seatpost, which Burrows always considered an important part of a bike’s aerodynamic armoury.

As is often the case with Giant it scores immediately with its kit. Most bikes this far under £2,000 come with Shimano 105, perhaps even with cost-cutting non-standard chainset or brakes; the Giant has a complete Ultegra groupset save for an 11-speed KMC chain. As a bike with all-round credentials it has the slightly less racy 50/34 compact chainset paired with the 11-28 cassette, which covers what most of us will ever need and is pretty much the go-to choice.

Shimano 105 and Ultegra are similar, but it’s impressive during these days of the free-falling pound to find a complete Ultegra groupset at this price. And very welcome. The Giant’s shifting and braking are faultless, and it shaves a few grams compared with its slightly lesser
105 stablemate.

Like some other bike makers (see Orbea), Beistegui Hermanos started off manufacturing weapons, in BH’s case making rifles way back in 1909. It moved on to bikes in 1919 and now makes 200,000 a year. It sponsors the French Direct Energie team, and one of the bikes in their line-up is the BH G6 Pro aero road bike. Voeckler and co. will be on very similar frames, albeit with swankier kit and wheels than our bike.

Aero road bikes have been with us for a few years, and the earliest of the species were leaden-feeling and heavy. Fortunately, things have changed, and the weight of this BH is within a few grams of both the Cannondale and Giant – an immediate score for BH, whose designers have clearly worked hard. The frame has a claimed weight of just 860g, a fine achievement for a £2,000 aero bike.

AN HONOURABLE HISTORY

American brand Cannondale’s SuperSix, meanwhile, has an honourable history, and the 2017 incarnation looks like it’ll live up to the heritage when we unbox it. It’s bang on what you’d expect at north of £2,000: Ultegra rather than 105, a slimline carbon seatpost, an oversized head tube, pretty much oversize everything else and, because it’s a Cannondale, it has the BB30A bottom bracket system the company helped to developed. The just-under 8kg weight is also typical; light-ish but still a kilo more than a Tour bike ridden by the likes of Pierre Rolland.

Although Cannondale cut its competitive teeth with aluminium back in the days of Ronald Reagan, it’s been manufacturing in carbon since 2005 after a brief flirtation with the carbon/alloy Six13 frame in 2004. The all-carbon SystemSix followed in 2007, leading us a decade later to this silver and green bullet. (Wondering about the numbers? Six is the atomic number of carbon and 13 is aluminium).

The kit is mainly Shimano Ultegra. It works – and very well. The only groupset deviations are Cannondale’s own chainset and FSA rings in the slightly racier 52/36 combo, paired with the near-ubiquitous 11-28 cassette. It shifts as well as full Ultegra and frankly we’d be hard pressed to feel the difference, though the Si/FSA unit helps the Cannondale stand out from the crowd. The wheels are Mavic’s familiar Aksiums with their 25mm Yksion Elite stablemate tyres. They’re not that light but they’re tough.

BIG FRIENDLY GIANT

Even in these days of oversized and tapered steerers, the Giant is, well, a giant, with its huge 11/2-11/8in ‘Overdrive’ steerer. This contributes to impressive control, quick and precise whatever the circumstances. And while all the other bikes hover within a few grams of 8kg, you can feel the Giant’s lower weight when you lift it up and, more importantly, when you’re climbing. Its stiffness and more compact frame make for a rewarding climb in or out of the saddle, and it descends with nigh-on perfect control.

As for geometry, there’s little to differentiate the TCR from the opposition: tried-and-trusted parallel 73° angles, short head tube, sub-metre wheelbase, aggressive reach and stack figures. It all makes for taut handling and a sharp responsive ride. So far so good, but nothing out of the ordinary. What really separates the TCR from the others is just how smooth and comfortable it is, the equal of most endurance bikes. And Giant’s own components help here, with quality bar, stem, tape and carbon aero seatpost, which copes with everything apart from the very biggest bumps. But it purrs along even on light gravel, and over a couple of miles of unsurfaced singletrack on our test route you could up the speed with confidence and stay comfortable.

There’s no mistaking that the Cannondale is a racing thoroughbred, its 73.5° head and 73° seat angles combining with the tapered head tube for sharp, dynamic handling. The sub-metre wheelbase, short chainstays and short head tube are also testament to its competitive credentials. This isn’t a bike for pootling but pedalling at full pelt, where it’ll offer a slick and rewarding ride. But it’ll do all this and leave you coming back for more day after day without leaving you beaten up.

The slimline 25.4mm seatpost contributes to the comfort, as do the Delta seat tube, skinny seatstays and Prologo Kappa saddle. But let’s not forget that this isn’t an endurance machine, this is a race bike; fast, easy to manoeuvre and throw around, and solid as a rock around bends and on descents. Okay, the disc version will have better braking – though this bike’s excellent Ultegra calipers are about as good as rim brakes get – but you’re saving yourself £600, which isn’t to be sniffed at. Unusually, all of the cabling apart from the rear brake is externally routed. Not quite as neat perhaps, but lighter and easier to service.

While the Giant and Cannondale here are big all over, the BH combines svelteness in some areas and maximum volume elsewhere in order to combine aerodynamics with efficiency and power. So the chunky head tube houses a 11/2in headset steerer like the Giant’s, and there’s a chunky bottom bracket shell for the BB386 Evo bottom bracket; BB386 allows for a stiffer, more efficient carbon layup. But that tapered head tube morphs into a slim top tube and truncated aerofoil down tube, all pretty standard for an aero bike.

At the back-end it’s all pretty familiar, too: deep chainstays to cope with pedalling forces and gently arcing pencil-slim seatstays for rear-end comfort. Both the brakes are direct-mount 105 units, though the front feels better than the rear, which is okay without being impressive. And as it’s sited directly behind the bottom bracket it’ll pick up road-borne crud like it’s going out of fashion. The seatstay bridge isn’t drilled for a brake, so it’s the only option.

PACE, POISE AND PLUSHNESS

The Giant PR-2 wheels are well constructed and fine for a bike at this price, but a lighter or more aero set would allow the TCR’s inner beast to be fully unleashed on the triathlon course. As it stands, though, and considering the £1,775 price, it’s incredibly hard to fault the Giant TCR Advanced 1 – better still if there are any end-of-season sale offers on. It’s light, fast, comfortable, ideal for racing, long rides or just about anything you could name. Even the two-tone paintwork looks better in the flesh than it does in photographs or online. And its bigger Advanced SL0 brother propelled Tom Dumoulin to Giro victory this year, so it has cachet, too.

The ride of the BH itself is a treat. Its handling is as good as anything here. It gets up to speed smoothly and effortlessly, and it feels like you can eke out every watt as you ease up through the gears. The frame and semi-deep Vision wheels handle breezes well. There may have been a little more flex in the frame when climbing, but it isn’t enough to hamper the handling, and the same is true on descents as well. It’s not quite as flickable as the Cannondale, but it’s no slouch.This efficiency does produce a slight comfort penalty, however.

The BH comes with a seatpost that extends above the top tube junction: advantages include a stiffer, lighter frame, but transporting the bike is trickier and selling it on could prove more problematic, as it can’t be cut down. And even with skinny seatstays and 25mm rubber you can feel the firmness of the ride. But BH’s G6 Pro is still a strong challenger to aero bikes from bigger names, with a light, well-priced bike on a good set of wheels.

Just as with the SuperSix Evo Disc, you’re getting just about the spot-on balance of pace, poise and plushness with the Cannondale. Yes, you can stretch your racing legs on this, but, equally, if you want one bike for challenging your own PBs, besting your team-mates on your club ride or notching a ton in double-quick time then Cannondale’s silver-and-‘Berserker’ green is worth a very serious test ride

The overall verdict

As you’d expect if you parted with £2,000, you’ll get at the least a very good bike, and at best one that’s hard to beat. The Spanish company BH has delivered an aero road bike that handles well and, thanks to its light frame, comes in at a very good overall weight, though the seatmast-like seatpost makes the ride pretty firm. The SuperSix continues Cannondale’s reputation for making high-quality road bikes that should appeal to anybody who appreciates speed and slick handling.

But no matter how good the other bikes are, there can be only one winner, and it’s Giant that takes the gong with a very, very high rating. We score highly for ‘exceptional’ bikes and ‘genuine class leaders’ and we believe the Giant represents both those things. It’s the lightest here, has a full Ultegra groupset, a carbon seatpost and a performance that provides pretty much anything most of us could want. Its handling is pin-sharp, the acceleration snappy, the comfort first rate.

Go to Source

Registration open for the Bastion longdistance event

News

The 2018 edition of the Hever Castle race is open for discounted entries

From the organisers of the Castle Triathlon Series, the 226km Bastion has swiftly become known as one of the toughest long-course races in the UK. The fifth edition is now open for registration, with early bird prices seeing a 25% discount.

The event has gained a strong reputation as a nurturing and friendly event, which is documented on Racecheck where it scores 4.7 out of 5.0, with one competitor describing it as “one of life’s defining races.” Further endorsement comes from the loyalty stats of the competitors taking part, in its third year 36% of the competitors were competing for the third time. 

The exclusive field of triathletes compete alongside the Hever Castle Festival of Endurance, which features over 1,000 competitors and thousands more spectators, with its offering of multiple races (including single swim events and an aquabike) and a course for various distances and training opportunities.

Bastion entrants will receive a personal walk of the event village and course guidance from the Race Director, Brian Adcock, with the spectators set to enjoy the castle grounds, village pubs and live music and children’s entertainment in the event village.

Read course tips on conquering the Bastion here

The lapped course and athlete tracking means competitors can be seen regularly and supported as they complete their 226km goal. The event organisers have created cheering zones for the participants, and also offer competitor support with a team member allowed to join any last runners for the final 10km stretch to keep them on a high for their finishing line moment.

The Bastion course

The Bastion is rare in that it’s an iron-distance race set in close proximity to London (just 45mins away), with each leg of The Bastion designed to offer the ultimate challenge for both newcomers to long-distance triathlon and experienced long-course hands.

The Bastion, the final stronghold of a medieval castle, features a 3.8km river and lake swim, a true toughie of a 180km bike course with 3,000m of climbing, and a 42.2km run course that takes place largely off-road including running through the grounds of Chiddingstone Castle. See full details of the course and maps here.

Free Charity Places

The national charity partner for the Castle Triathlon Series, including The Bastion, is Macmillan Cancer Support. You can get a free place in the 2018 Bastion in return for a £500 fundraising pledge. See more here.

Go to Source