Time trials. The races where Grand Tours are won and lost, where leader's jerseys are first given – and where aero gains materialise in all forms and shapes.
Stage one of the 2022 Tour de France was no exception. On top of the colourful EF-Education Easy Post kit and bikes, the 13km time trial in Copenhagen will also be remembered for riders forgetting to take their gilets off (we're looking at you, Geraint) and the slippery conditions.
But, of course, we'll also remember a series of new, flashy helmets that have caused quite a stir on social media and generated some pretty good memes.
Specialized S-Works TT 5
The American superbrand presented its new TT helmet as "The Fastest Aero Helmet" they're ever made – a speed dream developed in the wind tunnel (Specialized's called the Win Tunnel) with Remco Evenepoel and Kasper Asgreen from Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl.
Using CFD modelling first and then IRL tests in the tunnel, the Specialized team completely reshaped its previous iteration, the S-Works TT. And it says that over Evenepoel's 40k TT, it was able to shave off 26 seconds on his best time. That was thanks to the helmet sitting nearer to the rider's shoulders, a solution that reduces drag in an area with a lot of turbulence.But what about that integrated balaclava or buff-like system? That's an integrated head sock, which helps – says Specialized – maintain an optimal head position while riding. And it also mitigates rotational forces during impact, but the S-Works TT 5 is also fitted with MIPS' Air Node rotational management system, which reduces these rotational energies too.
Finally, the visor used in this model features a Class 1 shield that limits light distortion, something that may happen with other clear plastic lenses. The shield is also treated with hydrophobic and anti-fog coatings that help clear moisture when the weather is bad – like in Copenhagen.
A Specialized rider won stage one of the Tour in the end, but it's also fair to point out that Yves Lampaert of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl was using the older lid.
New Kask Bambino and Mistral visor
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, Bora-Hansgrohe and TotalEnergies were not the only teams rocking some Star Wars-like helmets in Copenhagen. The Ineos Grenadiers also showed up with a new model or – to be precise – a new optic system for their Bambino and Mistral helmets.
The new visor features very large lateral wings, and – without any specific detail on them yet – we can only assume it's to guide the airflow from the front to the sides to reduce drag. The new lens looked like a ski or motocross goggle or something borrowed from F1. And it also appeared that to achieve an optimal fit – one enabling those coveted aero gains – Ineos Grenadiers riders had to size up their helmets. And the perception was that they were wearing helmets too big for their head.
However, we're sure that the sizes were correct and safety was their number one priority, and that the look was just the result of the new system.
Same same, but different
Of course, the POC Tempor used by EF Education-Easy Post is nothing new and has already proved an excellent choice in time trialling and triathlons.
But given the new colour scheme featuring yellow dragons, we had to include it in the "helmets you're going to remember" round-up.