The Dodge Tour of Georgia kicks off today in Macon, Georgia, and is Lance Armstrong's first US stage race since the Tour du Pont in 1996, the year he was diagnosed with cancer. At this year's Tour de France, Armstrong is expected to ride with super-sleek Nike time-trial suits, a new aero position on his Trek TT bike and other "radical innovations" concocted by the "F-One" alliance of Armstrong's equipment suppliers, including a super-slim Dura Ace crankset.

Armstrong to unveil TdF secret weapons in Tour du Georgia

Armstrong is starting in today’s Tour de Georgia, a seven-stage, 641-mile race in the US state of Georgia.

The race will benefit the Georgia Cancer Coalition and has been dubbed ”Georgia’s race against cancer.” The cancer connection no doubt carries extra resonance for Armstrong but that’s not the reason for riding. Normally, he’d be training in Europe at this time but Armstrong is keen to be with his US-domiciled children.

The Tour du Georgia has been made extra tough in its second year, thanks to the input of Armstrong.

Some of the F-One developments are expected to be unveiled on April 22nd, the day of the Tour du Georgia’s time trial. F-One companies – including Trek and Nike – started working together last year in order to squeeze every last second out of equipment and clothing advances to help Armstrong win his sixth Tour de France in July.

Last year, Armstrong premiered the Nike Swift Spin time trial suit and this has been further improved this year, making it more aerodynamically efficient.

Bart Knaggs, president of the US Postal Service racing team told the New York Times that the F-One allliance was formed straight after last year’s Tour de France victory. Armstrong’s equipment suppliers were summoned to a meeting in Austin, Texas, Armstrong’s home town.

"We brought all the key suppliers together and made them understand there has to be a holistic connection between Lance and his equipment. The body and the bike have to be thought of as one."

Nike has so far produced 33 prototype suits and experimented with 60 different fabrics in designing this year’s Swift Spin TT suit. As Armstrong slims during his preparations for this year’s Tour de France, Nike will produce new form-fitting, wrinkle-free TT suits.

The main fabric chosen for this year’s suit is a polyester-Spandex mix that Nike came across in its research for its Swift Swim suit.

The TT suit is made up of panels of different fabrics, each with differing aerodynamic properties, depending on the area of the body. The aim is to alter airflow to limit low-pressure areas directly behind Armstrong’s body.

The body of the suit is super-smooth; the arms and shoulders are dimpled to disturb the air before it passes over Armstrong’s back.

Nike claims its TT suit can gain a rider as much as 90 seconds in a 34-mile time trial.

The link below previews some of the work Trek has been doing with Armstrong’s TT bike but can reveal the Texan will also be riding with a super-slim Dura Ace crankset.

This is believed to have an extra short axle to fit with a BB-shell reduced by nearly a half. Armstrong will benefit from a reduced Q-factor and better power transfer.

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