The opening race of the WorldTour season, the Tour Down Under, serves as the first opportunity for teams to put their new sponsors to the test in a race scenario, seeing how unfamiliar bikes handle the hot, rolling Australian roads. One of the most anticipated bikes of the 2024 season, is, for a change, not the most expensive or premium model on the market, but instead is one of the more affordable options out there. This is Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale’s Van Rysel RCR, provided to the team by their newest title sponsor, Decathlon.
It’s certainly a big departure from the BMC machines that the team used last year, and it’s the first time that Decathlon have been involved in the WorldTour since the mid-2000s when Estonian rider Jaan Kirsipuu won a stage of the Tour de France aboard a Decathlon Penta Pro.
While Van Rysel isn’t a brand which immediately comes to mind when thinking of professional level bikes, Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale’s mechanics explained that the RCR was developed in conjunction with Swiss Side to help on aerodynamics and Deda who provide an integrated cockpit for the bike. As it says on the top tube, the bike was tested by French Wind Tunnel Division, Onera, a company which offers a large panel of wind tunnels for aerodynamic testing.
The Van Rysel RCR will be the only road bike that Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale use this season, created to be an all-rounder that can do the job on flat, hilly and mountainous terrain. The bike itself also due to be sold on the Decathlon website in the exact configuration as the professional riders use, and it is expected to retail for £8,499.99 with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 – significantly cheaper than most pro-level models on the market.
The bike features Swiss Side Hadron² wheels with a 62mm rim profile depth, described by Swiss Side as “the wheel chosen for fast racing by pro cycling teams or by triathletes for windy days and hilly courses”. This bike was set-up ready to be raced for the Tour Down Under which is a relatively flat race, but the riders would likely opt for the 50mm profile depth if they were riding in the mountains. For this race, the team was using Continental GP5000 S TR tyres which were set-up tubeless – these tyres from Continental are said to have stronger sidewalls which make them have better puncture resistance.
At the front of the bike, the team is using a Deda/Van Rysel integrated cockpit which has been developed to be as aerodynamic as possible – the team didn’t wrap bar tape on the tops of the bars either for this reason. This rider had a negative stem but plenty of stack height leading to an aggressive and aerodynamic position. The team uses Wahoo Elemnt bolt computers.
The bike featured a Fizik Tempo Aliante R1 saddle, along with Fizik handlebar tape, another of the team’s sponsors.
Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale will use Look Keo pedals in 2024.
The bike is dressed with a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset with a power meter and this rider was using a 54-40 chainring set-up which is relatively standard in the professional peloton. Shimano is still the most commonly used groupset supplier in the men’s WorldTour, and Dura-Ace Di2 is the very top of the brand’s offerings.
Finally, the bike had Elite bottle cages – something that will get plenty of use over the next couple of days in the hot climates of the Adelaide Hills.