Tadej Pogačar will have a new Colnago ‘Prototipo’ bike at his disposal at the Tour de France
The bike is still in development and multiple versions will be tested by UAE Emirates riders.
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Spy shots of Tadej Pogačar riding an unbadged all-black bike on training rides have been making the rounds on social media and cycling forums recently. Now Colnago, the bike sponsor of the defending two-time Tour de France champion’s UAE Emirates team, has confirmed that there is in fact a new model on the horizon, called “Prototipo.”
Further details are sparse, but we do know a few things.
During the lead-up to the Tour de France and during the race itself, it’s common to see brands debuting new products with their sponsored riders, or, as in this case, doing real-world testing of products that are close to being ready for production.
Colnago’s announcement only confirms what has been rumored for weeks, and anyone familiar with the three-year-or-so release cycle of top-end road bikes will have also seen this coming for Colnago. The brand launched its current flagship road bike, the V3Rs, in the summer of 2019.
The new bike, whose “Prototipo” name means exactly what it sounds like to an English speaker, is still under development, hence Colnago not sharing much about this bike beyond its existence — which is hard to hide when it’s being ridden around under one of the highest profile cyclists in the pro peloton.
What we do know is that it’s not just one bike, but five. Well, five different carbon layups of the same bike, each providing different levels of stiffness and a different ride quality.
Starting at races this weekend, UAE Emirates riders will have access to the five different prototypes to help Colnago settle on the final version that will be available to consumers. We could see Pogačar race on it as soon as the Tour of Slovenia, which starts June 15.
What can we expect from the Colnago Prototipo?
Colnago’s statement on the Prototipo says it is intended to be as versatile as possible, made for both climbing and sprinting. Coupled with the bike’s visual similarity to the current V3Rs, which is also billed as an all-around race bike, and it’s not hard to conclude that this is the successor to the V3Rs, not a model that will live side-by-side with it.
Though the V3Rs is by all accounts an excellent race bike, it is feeling a touch behind the times now. Here’s what Colnago is probably looking to change about it.
Lower weight will be a primary target for Colnago.
Pogačar and his teammates aren’t shy about turning to the rim brake version of the V3Rs for days in the mountains, when low weight is of paramount importance. The savings for the switch is a modest 300 grams Pogačar told VeloNews earlier this year after he raced Tirreno-Adriatico on rim brakes, but for someone whose success relies heavily on the watts per kilo metric, that 300 grams, the equivalent of about an empty mug, is everything. There’s something to think about during your morning coffee.
Colnago increasingly stands alone in having riders on a rim brake model as other bike brands with a presence in the WorldTour have been creating all-around race bikes that butt up to the UCI weight limit of 6.8 kilograms. The last other major rim brake holdout in the pro peloton, the Ineos Grenadiers, was on the rim brake Pinarello Dogma F12 last season until the release of the Dogma F last summer. The team has been sticking to disc brakes ever since.
Indeed, other bike brands with a presence on the WorldTour have been figuring out with their most recent models how to create all-around race bikes at the UCI weight limit while also incorporating disc brakes and aerodynamic tube shapes. Jai Hindley for instance just won the Giro d’Italia racing on the same Specialized Tarmac SL7 in every road stage, from climbing to sprinting days.
Aerodynamics will be another area for improvement for Colnago, and something the Italian brand cited as an area of improvement in its announcement of the Prototipo. The brand has also recently announced a new time trial bike, the TT1, and historically knowledge bike manufacturers glean from making a new aero or TT bike makes its way into other road models.
The Prototipo includes a narrower head tube than the V3Rs, generally a feature that reduces drag. And the other tube shapes throughout the new model, from the downtube to the seat stays, appear more elaborately shaped, likely done to help guide airflow around the bike for improved aerodynamics.
Colnago also mentioned improved stiffness as a goal for the Prototipo in its announcement of the bike. The new model includes a larger bottom bracket area, a design element which usually increases stiffness. In one of the few concrete details — well, really more of wet cement still at this point — released about the bike, Colnago also said that the redesigned headtube has led to an improvement in stiffness.
The final name of the bike could change by the time it is ready for production. A Colnago representative said there is no set release date yet because the final product will depend on feedback from UAE Emirates riders during this testing phase.