Argon 18’s partnership with Astana Pro Team is a perfect opportunity to push the company tirelessly in order to provide athletes with state-of-the-art products designed to exceed their needs and expectations. Because every possible performance gain will make a difference in the toughest races, Argon 18 made it their top priority from the very start of the collaboration to supply Astana Team with faster, more aero and reactive bikes.
The new E-118 platform is partly the result of long discussions between Astana and Argon 18 regarding specific time trial needs. The team wanted the bike to be lighter, faster, with more aggressive riding positioning options.
In the design phase, Argon 18 used computer simulations to benchmark ideas, help them define a new pro level carbon lay-up and integrate disc brakes without penalizing aero performance. Argon 18 also made it their top priority to listen to both staff and riders of Astana Pro Team so that they could gather product feedback at every opportunity they had and take them into account in the design process.
Once the company settled on a final design and carbon lay-up, Argon 18 supplied Astana Pro Team with prototypes to be tested and validated by team members in the velodrome and on the road. In October 2018, Hugo Houle was the first rider of the team to test an E-118 Pro prototype in the velodrome in Canada. In December, Gorka Izagirre and Pello Bilbao tested in the velodrome and on the roads of Spain.
- After going to the velodrome to test the new TT bike and going out on the road in real conditions, I could feel a clear advantage using the new bike. The course we used on the road was not totally flat, because we wanted to test cornering, accelerations, handling among other things. I like the E-118 Pro a lot. I am more stable, have better accelerations and cornering, and feel faster overall, – says Gorka Izagirre.
Argon 18 then corroborated the gains that they were seeing in simulations, riders were gaining an average of 8 to 10 watts at 50 km/h compared to their previous bike, the E-118 Next. It became clear that the new disc equipped TT bike was faster than the previous generation.
- The new E118 Pro is the result of the optimal collaboration between a bike manufacturer and a pro cycling team. There have been numerous exchanges between the riders and technical staff of Astana Pro Team and our R&D team in order to design the next level of Time Trial bike. Our partnership allowed us to challenge ourselves to reach new levels and now, with this new bike, we look forward to many more victories, – says Gervais Rioux, Founder Argon 18.
The frontal area of the bike as been completely reviewed starting with the new version of Argon 18 full carbon handlebar and stem combo. While maintaining its stiffness, it allows a lower fit window, making it easier for riders to get into aero position and reduce the drag of the handlebar. Combined with new Armrest cups and pads locking down the forearms at the extension bars for better front-end control.
Miguel Angel Lopez, leader of Astana Pro Team at the 102nd Giro d’Italia has been the first rider of the team to transition onto the final iteration and UCI approved version of the E-118 Pro. The 25-year-old Colombian has already proved himself as a solid contender for the top step of the podium at Grand Tours. Lopez hopes to save as many seconds as possible on the three time trial stages in the upcoming weeks to get as close as possible to wearing La Maglia Rosa.
- I have been using the E-118 Pro in Colombia during a few training sessions and quickly noticed the improvements. The new bike is much more comfortable and steering the bike is also easier in the descents. I am happy that the bike offers a better fit window for smaller riders like myself, especially with the cockpit, it allows me to get in a better aero position. Now, I am waiting for the start of this Giro d’Italia with great interest and impatience! – says Miguel Angel Lopez.
Along the route of this year’s Giro d’Italia, riders will race close to 60 kilometers against the clock. Most of it won’t be on flat courses, many sections will be through mountainous terrain, so climbers and GC contenders will hope to limit their time losses. This Saturday, Bologna hosts the Big Start with an 8.2 km hilly individual time trial. The finale is a 2.1 km climb with a gradient of 8-9%. Stage 9 is a 34.8 km individual time trial, starting on a slight incline for 22 km, all the way to the final 12 km climb. As riders enter San Marino the course will point uphill, with a section kicking up to 9.4%. The final stage, a 17km ITT, will take place on Sunday June 2, in Verona.
Photo credit: @zuperdehlie