Tinkoff is a Russian-registered professional cycling team with an interesting history. The team was managed under several different names and sponsors from 1999 to March of 2015 by former* Tour de France winner, Bjarne Riis. When prominent Russian businessman Oleg Tinkoff took ownership of the team in late 2013, relations became a little stressed between Mr Tinkoff and Mr Riis, with the latter parting company from Tinkoff in late March of 2015.
For the Tour Down Under of 2016, things are much rosier. Sean Yates, former top five place-getter at the 1994 edition of Paris Roubaix, arguably the most epic edition of the race, heads the team in Australia as Director Sportif. One of Sean’s charges is Adam Blythe, an English born road and track racing cyclist who joins Tinkoff in 2016, after spending 2015 with Australian outfit, Orica-GreenEDGE. Tinkoff ride Specialized bikes, and in the case of Adam, he is astride a brand spanking new Venge…
If you haven’t caught it before, Specialized’s Venge Vias is arguably one of the most aero road bikes going in the pro peloton today.
With Adam’s background as a track cyclist, it is apparent he enjoys a long and low position, which is extreme even among professionals, who are known for raising seatposts, slamming stems and stretching things out.
Earlier in the week, I joined the team (mostly wheelsucking) for a relaxed training ride and caught this photo of Adam astride the Venge. Note his position and custom Nike shoes – only for certain professionals.
The bike is aero, with nary a cable to be seen anywhere. While the team is running Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain, everything related to the system is hidden from sight.
However, aero purists may frown upon the front wheel magnet and sensor pickup for the SRM PC8 power meter head unit.
Not withstanding the differences in the standard Tinkoff team bike and the Venge, Adam’s bike is rolling Specialized’s 64mm deep CLX tubular wheelset.
While Adam’s wheels are branded a little differently from consumer units, they also feature an extra wide set of tubulars, not so common at a race like the Tour Down Under.
The Specialized Turbo cotton branded tires measure 28mm in width, something you’d expect to see at an event like Paris Roubaix. Whether these tires were just for training, or will be raced by Adam later in the week is another question. Whatever their intention, clearance is very tight around the rear brake as evidenced in the photo below!
Adam’s seating requirements are handled by Prologo’s Nack saddle with the CPC vibration damping material, which also happens to be perfect for keeping one’s aggressive aero position stable and in place.
The rest of Adam’s bike is standard Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 11-speed fare, with 53 / 39 chainrings on the crankset and an 11-25 cassette. The Tour Down Under has many tough climbs, but not so much that the professionals need to break out the compact cranksets. On the subject of cranksets, Tinkoff’s are all fitted with SRM’s latest power meter units.
With Adam’s history as a track pursuiter, perhaps we’ll see him making an opportunistic move or two at the 2016 Tour Down Under? Whatever he does, he’ll be aboard one of the quickest rigs around – although I wouldn’t like to be the mechanic who installs all of those brake and electronic cables! Good luck Adam!
Photos and article by Gravel Cyclist.
Jayson O’Mahoney is the Gravel Cyclist: A website about the Gravel Cycling Experience.