Rein Taaramäe’s Litening AERO C:68X: Intermarché-Circus-Wanty pro bike

Unlike his teammate Rui Costa, Taaramäe opted for Cube’s pure aero bike for stage 4 of the Vuelta a España

ClockUpdated 16:59, Saturday 14th October 2023. Published 16:00, Saturday 14th October 2023
Rein Taaramäe’s Litening AERO C:68X


Rein Taaramäe’s Litening AERO C:68X

For the seventh time in his long career, Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) took to the start line of the Vuelta a España in 2023. It’s been a happy hunting ground for the Estonian in the past, the scene of two of his three WorldTour victories - the other came at another Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia.

Now 36, he started this year’s race as one of the more senior riders, although he didn’t join teammate Rui Costa in the list of the top-10 oldest starters, narrowly missing out in 12th. Rolling back the years, Costa powered to a victory on stage 15, and we were lucky enough to get our hands on the bike he used throughout the race ahead of stage 4.

We also caught a glimpse of Taaramäe’s bike ahead of the same stage - here’s how they compared.

Read more: Rui Costa’s Rui Costa’s Cube Litening AIR

Forget all-round performance, Taaramäe goes aero

The Vuelta a España has deservedly built up a reputation for serving up devilishly difficult routes, ones packed with relentless and vicious climbs. The 2023 route didn’t buck that trend, as can be seen in the absence of many sprinters.

Despite the climbing-heavy route, there were brief days of respite, and stage 4 was one of those, giving the riders a relatively easy roll down from Andorra to Tarragona on the Catalonia coastline. There were two climbs packed into the middle of the day but nothing that hampered the chances of the fast men as Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) powered to victory.

Read more: Kaden Groves' Canyon Aeroad pro bike

For days like this, riders traditionally used dedicated aero bikes. Things have changed in recent times and many teams now rely on all-round superbikes, designed for everything from climbing to flat days when aero takes precedence - like the Specialized Tarmac SL8 and Pinarello Dogma. Intermarché-Circus-Wanty also has its own version of the on-trend superbike, the Cube Litening Air C:68X. While it’s technically the brand’s lightweight bike, it packs in plenty of aero features and has become the team’s bike of choice for the majority of races, including for Costa on stage 4 - but not for Taaramäe.

The Estonian opted for Cube’s pure aero machine, the Litening Aero C:68X, instead. It’s a traditional aero bike in every sense, with deep tubes that were honed using CFD (computer fluid dynamics) and real-world wind tunnel testing - and with the usual claimed drag reductions to boot.

According to Cube, the latest design results in a “30% reduction in drag” compared to the previous model. While a glance doesn’t tell the full picture, it certainly looks fast.

Rotor Aldhu chainset and oversized pulley wheels

Taaramäe’s set-up for the day included a Rotor Aldhu 55/42 chainset, paired with Shimano’s Dura-Ace groupset. Shimano dominates the peloton at this point, while Rotor components are a less frequent sight. The 55/42 option Taaramäe opted for is in the ballpark of what most riders used, falling a little below the 56/44 specced on Costa’s bike.

We didn’t get official confirmation for the size of the cassette, but we suspect it’s an 11-34 (if our counting is to be believed). That proved to be a popular choice throughout the race as riders increasingly take advantage of the wider gearing options.

The rear derailleur set-up included an oversized CeramicSpeed pulley wheel. These were the talk of the town five years ago when their presence became more widespread, with the idea being that a larger-diameter wheel reduces chain friction, saving watts. It’s something Intermarché-Circus-Wanty are clearly a fan of, using the tech on Costa’s bike too.

Deep-section aero wheels

Understandably for the flat stage, Taaramäe paired his aero machine with the deep-section Newmen Advanced SL R.65 wheels. Costa also used the same wheels, pairing them with the Air’s lightweight frame. At 65mm deep - as the name suggests - these are on the deeper side, even for a flatter stage.

Continental provides the team’s tyres, with the Grand Prix 5000 TT seemingly the favoured option, used by both Taaramäe and Costa in a 28mm width.

Prologo finishes the build

Prologo components completed the build, including the Zero II saddle which sat atop the Cube aero seatpost. Up top the fluorescent Prologo bar tape is a commentator’s dream, making Intermarché’s riders easily distinguishable from the rest of the pack.

The bike was accessorised with Elite water bottles and a Bryton computer.

Bike Specification
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    Litening AERO C:68X

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