As well as kit, the off-season also normally brings changes in the carbon wonders that will be carrying the convicts of the road over cobbles, mountain passes and in respect to Strade Bianche, the gravel. However, at least at men's World Tour level, it seems that we have a status quo in relation to companies. There are some changes in wheel and groupset provision- some of it official, others with blacked out logos depending on rider preference and sponsors but let's look at the most visible tech- the actual bike frames.
Astana will be on Specialized with the Tarmac being the basic workhouse, the Roubaix for (obviously enough) the cobbled classics, the Venge VIAS for the sprinters and the Shiv on TT duties. Groupsets will be provided by Campagnolo, which befits a team with such a strong Italian influence.
Etixx-Quickstep and Tinkoff will also be on the same Specialized steeds except they will both be running Shimano Di-2.
Katusha and Movistar will both be sticking with Canyon. The default model for both will be the Ultimate CF SLX and the Endurance CF SL will tackle the rougher stuff. The Aeroad CF SLX will carry the fast guys and the Speedmax CF SLX will be used in TTs. The main difference will be Movistar hosting Campag while Katusha will be running the SRAM Red ETap, which while not available to us mere mortals until March/April of 2016, is already garnering rave reviews as the first truly wireless electronic set-up as reviewed here by GCN's Simon Richardson.
30 years on from their first mountain bike and 27 since their aerobars helped Lemond overcome Fignon, Scott will be continuing their presence in the pro-peloton under IAM and Orica GreenEdge. The Addict (dubiously named if the history of our sport is taken into consideration) will be doing the bulk of the work, with the Solace supporting the bigger framed endurance guys. The Foil will be at the forefront of the sprint trains and the Plasma will be at the sharp end of the race-of-truth. Shimano Dura-Ace Di-2 is the groupset of choice for both teams as well.
Ag2r-la Mondiale will be sticking with Focus for the next year. The Izalco Max will be the standard chariot and the Cayo for the more endurance focussed (no pun intended). The Izalco Chrono Max will deal with timetrails while the team don't have an aero bike in the service course. Ag2r will also be running SRAM Etap.
The Teammachine SLR01 will be standard issue and the Teammachine TMR01 will be for those with more aerodynamic needs. On a similar theme the TT bike for the World Champions will be the Timemachine TM01 and GVA et al will be tackling the cobbled classics on the Granfondo GF01. Di-2 will be standard through all models.
Due to signings such as Pierre Rolland and departures of riders like Dan Martin, Cannondale may be a new look team but it will, like the rest of the World Tour, be sticking with its old providers (and primary sponsor). The SuperSix EVO and Synapse will be most commonly seen, while the Slice will be the TT bike. Again Di-2 is the groupset at the heart of the bikes.
Mark Cavendish has made no secret about his preferences for Specialized, so how will he feel about switching to Cervélo as part of Dimension Data for 2016? The S5 will be the sprinter's aero weapon with the R5 and C5 forming the major transportation for the vanguard (the C5 being the endurance model). Timetrials will be carried out atop the P5. Hopefully the Rotor Uno/ Shimano Di-2 composite groupset will not give Cav the same early season problems he had in 2015.
FDJ continues to be the most French of the French teams sticking with a French manufacturer in the form of LaPierre. The Xelius SL will be carrying Thibault Pinot and the weight of French expectations this year while the Pulsium will be used by those hoping to emulate Marc Madiot's cobbled classics successes. The fast guys will pilot the Aircode SL and the Aerostorm will form the basis of time trial efforts. Shimano maintain their dominance among groupsets with their Di-2 again being front and centre.
Giant-Alpecin is. John Degenkolb will probably be making use of the Propel Advanced SL as he seeks to cement his sprinters position following Kittel's departure and the Defy Advanced to defend his Paris-Roubaix title. Otherwise the TCR Advanced will do the donkey work while it is quite apparent what role the Trinity Advanced Pro TT will fulfil. Again Dura-Ace Di-2 will be the groupset.
So will Ulissi. Olivera or Plaza feature in the 2016 Merida ads or with it be Modolo again? The 2015 adverts made use of Lampre-Merida stage wins and with 3 Giro, 2 Vuelta and 1 Tour victories to choose from, next season's will be spoilt for choice (although with Olivera now moving to Movistar it is a safe bet he won't feature). The Scultura Team will form the backbone while the Reacto Team-E will do service for the sprinters. The Ride Team-E will be found near the back of the classics peloton while the Warp TT Team-E will be de rigueur alongside skinsuits and teardrop shaped helmets. As the only Italian team in the World Tour (despite for tax purposes being registered in Switzerland), it seems sacrilegious that they use Shimano as opposed to Campagnolo.
So will Griepel be throwing his Noah Fast over the line first on the Champs Elysees for a second year running? Will Adam Hansen pedal his Helium SL through another 3 consecutive Grand Tours? Will Jens Debusschere finish higher than 9th this year in Paris-Roubaix on the Fenix SL? Lotto-Soudal had a pretty good 2015, all on Ridley bikes. With the Dean Fast (that's another bike not a person) shoring up time trail efforts and a strong roster mixing experience and exciting up-and-comers, if the tean build on this 2016 could be a year of pleasant surprises especially in the classics. The team are one of the few using Campagnolo both in the form of groupset components and wheels.
LottoNl-Jumbo may not have had the results in 2015 to justify riding a bike called the Specialissima; in fact the name of the endurance model- the Infinito- may be more descriptive of a team that waited until May before getting their first win (whic came in the Tour of Yorkshire). The aero model in the form of the Oltre XR.2 is still on my dream list (the best looking paintjob in my view was the Vacansoleil-DMC Oltre from 2012) and the TT bike will be the Aquila CV. Again with all of this italian heritage, it seems a shame to kit it out with Shimano.
Sky continue their partnership with Pinarello, and with 3 Tour de France GC victories in 4 years why would they not? The F8 is basic team issue while the K8-S, which was debuted at the 2015 Paris-Roubaix, with its suspension system is pulled out when the road is less tarmac and more baby-head sized blocks of stone. The Bolide will see more action this year than it has in the past few due to an increase in TT stages particulalry in the Grand Boucle and the Rio Olympics.
Trek-Segafredo will again be the team that will most please anagram fans. The Emonda will be the go-to for most riders on the team while Jasper Stuyven will hope to replicate his Vuelta stage victory on the Madone. The Domane will probably be under Spartacus as he undertakes what will probably be one of his last classics campaigns while he will be throwing his leg over the Speed Concept, to try and show Martin, Dumoulin and Dennis that he shouldn't be discounted yet. We could question why Trek didn't go for "Nomade" as their TT name but maybe they have an even lighter bike in the pipeline....