The winning bike of the Tour de France: Tadej Pogačar’s Colnago V3Rs

Colnago bikes have been raced to many illustrious victories over the decades, but never for the Tour de France overall until this year.

Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

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The 2020 Tour de France was a race of firsts: Neither Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) nor Colnago bicycles had ever won the world’s most prestigious race. That changed for both parties when the Tour de France champion Pogačar rode his yellow Colnago V3Rs across the Champs-Élysées on Sunday.

While Pogačar turns 22 today, September 21, the storied brand of Colnago dates back to 1954. Bikes made by the Italian brand have been ridden to victory at the classics, the world championships, the Vuelta a España, and the Giro d’Italia, among other places.


But the Tour? Well, that depends on how you count it. Company founder Ernesto Colnago began his career as a mechanic and then a frame builder, and some brands and riders like Eddy Merckx used his frame building services to great success — but under other labels. Thus this was the first Tour de France where a bike bearing Colnago’s name was ridden into Paris under the yellow jersey.

Pogačar only raced this bike for one day at the Tour de France — and it was the day that counted the most. Photo: Courtesy Colnago

Colnago V3Rs, in disc and rim-brake models

Colnago engineer Davide Fumagalli has designed all the Colnago bikes of the last 11 years, including the relatively new V3Rs.

“I like to call this frame my little Swiss Army knife, a bike you can use for almost anything,” Fumagalli told VeloNews on Sunday. “We have tire clearance for 32mm tires, and in the disc version it is more aero than our [older] Concept aero bike, which is why [Alexander] Kristoff sprints with it.”

UAE-Team Emirates sprinter Kristoff won Stage 1 and thus the first yellow jersey of the 2020 Tour on the V3Rs disc. The Norwegian sprinter started Stage 2 with numerous yellow touches on his bike — bar tape, computer, pedals, etc — but with the standard team black-and-red bike.

Pogačar’s yellow Colnago V3Rs was assembled before the final stage. Photo: Courtesy Colnago

Pogačar, however, rolled into Paris on Sunday astride a yellow V3Rs straight from Italy.

As he had done earlier in the Tour, Pogačar opted for the rim-brake V3Rs because it is a little lighter.

The V3Rs disc model, with all the team sponsor equipment, builds up to “around 6.95kg,” Fumagalli said.

Company founder Ernesto Colnago built countless bikes for professionals at the world’s biggest races, but a bike bearing his name had not won the Tour de France until this year. Photo: Courtesy Colnago

The UCI minimum bike weight limit is 6.8kg / 14.99lb.

The V3Rs rim version comes in just under that limit, so riders have “more mental freedom to choose wheels, tire, etc.,” Fumagalli said.

Riding the last portion of the time trial on feel

No computer or power meter here. Pogačar finished the stage 20 time trial on his road bike, with the power meter and computer removed.

As first reported by Josh Croxton on Cyclingnews, Pogačar raced the final uphill section of the pivotal time trial without a power meter or a computer.

As with then-race leader Primož Roglic, Pogačar started on a time trial bike — with a power meter and a computer — and then switched to a road bike for the steep uphill finish.

It was a performance reminiscent of Fabian Cancellara, who would train and race throughout the year with a power meter like essentially all professionals, but then would remove it for his most important races like Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders and just race on feel.

Pogačar raced the first, flat 30km of the time trial on his time trial bike, using a Stages power meter and a computer to help pace himself. But then he switched to racing on a road bike — and by feel.


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