The Critérium du Dauphiné has always been the historic tech proving ground for teams in the run up to the Tour de France. The Tour, which starts on the first of July, often plays host to a surfeit of new tech releases and that makes the Dauphiné the perfect event for final testing.
This year, AG2R Citroen has brought an all new racing platform, with a prototype BMC aero frameset as well as the first sighting in the wild of the brand new Campagnolo Super Record Wireless groupset.
We have taken a look at the new features of the unreleased BMC frameset.
First spotted on the roof bars of the AG2R Citroen team cars, the prototype frameset is most identifiable by the large '#createspeed' branding on the downtube. Smaller BMC branding can be seen on the fork, alongside the particularly interesting Red Bull Advanced Technologies branding below.
So is this the new BMC Timemachine? Well, given that the Time Machine last received updates all the way back in 2018, this would certainly make sense, but it may also be a totally new bike from BMC. AG2R Citroen's all-rounder choice, the BMC Teammachine is a couple of years younger, released in 2020 but the Swiss machine could still be ripe for a major update.
New frame features
Most striking to us is the all-new fork design on the new BMC which has a different aero ethos to the Swiss brand's previous design. Instead of opting for minimal clearance around the rim profile, BMC has gone for a much wider design. Similar to the Lotus x Hope Olympic Track Bike, the goal here is to allow the air to pass freely between the fork and the rim profile, which should mitigate some of the high-pressure air build-up at the front of the bike - the most important area of the bike aerodynamically.
While there is a large gap between the wheel rim and the fork blades, clearance between the top of the tyre and the fork crown is minimal. While we're sure BMC will have the data to back up why this is a fast design, it does look as if tyre clearance will be limited.
Moving up to the head tube, and again there is a full redesign compared to BMC's Timemachine road frameset. Here, BMC looks to have made full use of the UCI relaxing its 3:1 aero profile ruling. A much narrower, and deeper profile can now be found at the headtube, with a now seemingly obligatory cam tail shape adopted.
The one-piece handlebar-stem setup is looks very similar to the cockpit that AG2R have been riding all season on the BMC Teammachine. This would suggest that a new cockpit isn't quite yet ready for the road, or that BMC has simply taken an 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' approach to the design.
It's here that we also see a glimpse of the new Super Record Wireless shifting too, with the distinct absence of the legendary thumb shifter.
One design nuance that does seem to have come across from the Timemachine is a wider downtube around the bottle cages. The downtube features a proprietary bottle cage that has a small faring which should help to make the bike more aerodynamically efficient when carrying a bottle. Worthy of note too, the seat tube bottle cage does look to have been replaced by a standard bottle cage.
The new bottom bracket area is positively enormous - which is most likely aimed to provide stiffness to the lower area of the bike. The likes of Greg Van Avermaet will be over the moon if this bottom bracket design translates into instant acceleration when sprinting.
The size of the design also creates somewhat of a fairing around the rear wheel too, which, we speculate could see some marginal gains toward the rear of the bike.
Finally the rear seat stay junction - like on many of the best road bikes of today, the new BMC features dropped seat stays, which may well provide a little extra compliance for riders.
The oversized theme continues here too though, with a large triangulated profile connecting the narrow seatstays to the much chunkier seat tube. Tyre clearance at the rear of the bike looks to be a touch more generous with rider Ben O'Connor's 25mm tyres still having a little headroom to spare.
Red Bull collaboration and release date speculation
The graphics on this new frameset provide us with some insight into a potential release date as well as brand collaboration with Red Bull.
A UCI 'approved prototype' frame sticker can be seen on the seat tube which means this bike must be in the "final stages of development" according to the UCI's 'Road Equipment Registration Procedure'. This means that the bike must be commercially available within one year. That said though, we think this bike could hit the shelves in a much more timely manner than 12 months, with a probable release perhaps coinciding with the 2023 Tour de France.
Finally, let's talk about that Red Bull Advanced Technologies bull in the room. The brands formed a design alliance in 2018, and in 2022 unveiled "the world's fastest race bike" after four years of development.
If this previous endeavour is anything to go by, then you can bet that the new BMC has been given the once over by the Red Bull F1 engineers, which for performance, this year in particular, can only be a good thing!
One thing is for sure, there is plenty of tech breaking cover at the Critérium du Dauphiné, so stay tuned for all the latest rumours and releases.