Most, if not all, of the time trial bikes in the '89 Tour were designed with aerodynamics in mind -- with disc wheels, and smaller diameter front wheels, and handlebars that put the riders into a deep drop. It's just that the aerodynamic position gained by the Scott "triathlon" bars used by LeMond was better. Not only that, but the Scott bars, and similar versions, had been used in other races before the '89 Tour. For example, the 7-Eleven team had used them in that year's Tour de Trump. Likewise, LeMond was hardly the first to wear an aerodynamic helmet. Many racers, including Laurent Fignon, had used them for years. If he believed it could make a difference, why Fignon chose to forgo a helmet in the final time trial of the '89 Tour is a mystery.
Anyhow, having said that . . . let's look at some bikes.
Both LeMond and Fignon (and most competitors in the TdF for that matter) used multiple bikes throughout the race, depending on the terrain and type of racing. Here are some of the bikes they used:
|The red and white Bottechia road bike shown above is on display at the Three Oaks Bicycle Museum in Three Oaks, Michigan. See more pictures HERE.|
|See, he did know what an aero helmet was.|
|I'm pretty sure these are the frame tubing stickers I'm seeing on Fignon's bike above.|
Though carbon fiber was starting to show up in pro racing, and aluminum would gain in popularity, lugged steel still had a few more years in the TdF before it would disappear completely from the professional ranks.
One last thought on the impact of aerodynamics and technology. People often talk about how much of LeMond's time gain in the final time trial was due to the handlebars and aero helmet, etc. Experts would point to wind tunnel data to pin down an exact number of seconds saved (even LeMond himself said it might have saved him 10 to 20 seconds). But I think it would be wrong to imply that LeMond's win was mainly due to aerodynamic or technological advancements, and thereby downplay his physical achievement. Think about this: LeMond rode one of the fastest time trials in history at 54.55 km/h. Most pro-level time trials since then have been run with equipment equal to or better than what LeMond used in the '89 Tour -- bike weight has dropped, and wind-tunnel testing has become a huge part of the sport, yet his record still stands. It's worth noting that Dave Zabriske's 54.676 km/h record set in 2005 was over a shorter distance, and in the first stage, not after more than 3,200 miles and three weeks of racing. No, I think when it comes to the impact of technology on race results, it's a little harder to quantify than some people would like to think. Just sayin'.