Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Take a look at four of the hottest 2017 World Tour bikes shot on location at the Tour Down Under as the World Tour kicked off in Adelaide. We grabbed World Champion Peter Sagan’s Venge, Team Sky sprinter, Boy Van Poppel’s Pinarello, the gorgeous Bianchi Oltre XR4 of Enrico Battaglin and big Mads Pedersen’s slick Trek Madone.
PETER SAGAN’S S-WORKS VENGE VIAS RIM
Specs: 56cm, 8.1kg (17.9 lbs), 760mm saddle height, 110mm drop, 620mm reach, 140mm stem, 42cm bars
When you get past the stunning, shimmering paint job (gray with the world-championship stripes flashing across the tubes as the light plays on the bike), the integrated rim brakes and the 140mm slammed stem, what surprises is just how heavy this bike is: 8.1 kilograms or 17.9 pounds. The UCI minimum is currently 14.99 pounds, a number Sagan’s S-Works Venge ViAS exceeds by 2 pounds. Two pounds! That’s equal to a rack of ribs or the same as 16 Krispy Kreme donuts!
Why would Sagan ride such a heavy bike? It’s all about the right weapon for the fight. Specialized makes three bikes for its UCI WorldTour teams: the Venge, the Tarmac and the Roubaix. When Sagan wants aero—as he did during the relatively flat stage 1 of the Santos Tour Down Under—he reaches for the Venge ViAS, knowing the aero advantage (120 seconds over 40 kilometers at 50 kilometers per hour versus a Tarmac, according to Specialized) far outweighs any weight disadvantage. When he must climb, like on the hilly stage 2 to Paracombe, Sagan rides a Tarmac. Like a good craftsman, he chooses the right tool for the job.
Sagan’s Venge is surprisingly kitted with Shimano’s Dura-Ace 9070 Di2, not the new 9150 stuff launched last summer. How Shimano let the 2017 WorldTour season begin with the world champion and most popular cyclist in the world riding old gear is baffling, especially when FDJ and Team Sky had complete kits of 9150. According to the Bora-Hansgrohe team’s mechanic we won’t see Sagan on the new Dura-Ace until Paris-Roubaix, when it will be unveiled on the disc-only Specialized Roubaix the team will ride.
Sagan is running CLX 64 wheels on his Venge with nice, fat 26mm S-Works tubulars. When you ask a bike to do what Sagan asks a bike to do, lots of contact patch is a good thing. His saddle, a Romin EVO 155, has sandpaper between the rails and clamp, no doubt to fight slippage under big watts. As aero as the bike is, Sagan himself still creates the majority of the drag he must battle, and the slammed, 140mm stem with a –17-degree angle and 42cm Aerofly ViAS bars are designed to get him low and keep him narrow.
DANNY VAN POPPEL’S PINARELLO DOGMA F10
Specs: 55cm, 7.2kg/15.9 lbs, 780mm saddle height, 122mm drop, 580mm reach, 141mm stem, 42cm bars
Thanks to Chris Froome, Pinarello’s Dogma F8 made headlines for its climbing prowess, and while it’s undeniably stiff and light, at its heart it’s an aero race bike thanks to a partnership with Jaguar. The F10, launched in early January, is an evolutionary step, building on the F8 and being put to good use by the big engines that Team Sky employs to get Froome to the climbs unmolested.
At the Tour Down Under, the Dogma F10 made its race debut with some of those big engines—Geraint Thomas, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard—tasked with getting young Danny van Poppel to the final 250 meters ready to take on Caleb Ewan. While Pinarello shaved some weight, van Poppel would be more interested in the stiffness and aero gains. Stiffness improvements over the F8 are just 7 percent at the rear but van Poppel hits close to 2,000 watts for extended periods in a bunch kick, so every percentage point helps. A new down tube and subtle adjustments to the fork decrease aero drag by 12.6 percent, according to Pinarello. The water bottle now sits in a small well in the down tube keeping it out of the airflow. When your lead-out train is moving faster than 60 kilometers per hour and the sprint is well over 70 kilometers per hour, 12.6 percent is a lot.
Van Poppel is a big rider with a tall saddle (780mm) and a lot of drop (122mm), which keeps him on a 55cm frame. According to Thomas: “When you ride behind him you see how packed full of muscle he is.” Team Sky is famous for marginal gains and fit is a part of it. Van Poppel rides a custom 141mm stem because millimeters matter. His bike weighs just 7.2 kilograms (15.9 pounds) kitted with Shimano Dura-Ace 9150, a group so rare not even the world champion got one. Like the Trek Madone, the new Pinarello Dogma F10 keeps the Di2 junction box hidden instead of sitting under the stem. Danny was running a 9000 crankset to take advantage of his Stages power meter and Dura-Ace C50 tubulars. Shimano’s brand PRO handles the cockpit.
Van Poppel comes from cycling royalty—his parents are Jean-Paul van Poppel and Leontien van der Linden—so his success has been no surprise. He’s still developing into a top-level sprinter, but with four wins last year the 23-year-old Dutch sprinter may be on the cusp of a break-out year—and his Pinarello Dogma F10 is certainly equipped to get him there.
ENRICO BATTAGLIN’S BIANCHI OLTRE XR4
Specs: 55cm, 7.3kg (16 lbs), saddle height 720mm, drop 80mm, reach 525mm, 110mm stem, 42cm bars
The sexiest bike on the 2017 World Tour may just be the Bianchi Oltre XR4 of Team LottoNL-Jumbo. Never mind the team’s signature yellow, Enrico Battaglin’s Oltre XR4 is pure celeste green. The Oltre XR4 builds on the Oltre XR2 but adds technology from the Infinito, Bianchi’s endurance bike. Bianchi managed to shave 20 watts of effort at 50 kilometers per hour from the XR2 thanks to a much more aggressive down-tube shape and a new integrated Vision bar-and-stem combo. From the Infinito, Bianchi borrowed Countervail technology. Sandwiched within the carbon layup is a viscoelastic damping layer to reduce high-frequency vibration and its ability to fatigue a rider over a long day in the saddle.
At 5-foot-9 and 145 pounds, Battaglin is a puncher and has made his career with two Giro stage wins. While many riders his size would opt for a 53cm bike, Battaglin is on a 55cm. As such, he runs one of the shortest stems in the pro peloton (110mm) with 42cm bars. With a saddle height of just 720mm, the 55cm frame gives him 80mm of drop, which is a lot for an amateur, but not much for a 5-foot-9 WorldTour pro.
Moving from smaller Italian teams to the WorldTour’s LottoNL-Jumbo, Battaglin has traded some of his own opportunities for stage wins to support the team’s GC contenders like Stephen Kruiswijk and Robert Gesink. At the Tour Down Under, Battaglin was riding his Bianchi Oltre XR4 to keep team leader Gesink out of trouble and in position for the race’s two GC days, the climb to Paracombe and the battle on Willunga Hill.
Like most Shimano teams at the 2017 Tour Down Under, the LottoNL-Jumbo riders were still on Shimano Dura-Ace 9070. The Oltre XR4 uses perhaps the best rim brake in the world: the direct-mount Dura-Ace 9000 caliper. Battaglin’s Dura-Ace 9000 crankset has the telltale yellow bubble of a Pioneer dual-sided power meter and he rides Dura-Ace C50 rims with gorgeous natural-sidewall Vittoria Corsa tubulars.
MADS PEDERSEN’S TREK MADONE
Specs: 58cm, 7.3kg/16lbs, saddle height 805mm, drop 100mm, reach 585mm, 140mm stem, 42cm bars
Fabian Cancellara’s retirement has left a huge hole in Trek-Segafredo’s classics squad. No new rider is going to fill those shoes, but the team’s latest addition, 21-year-old Dane Mads Pedersen, will bolster the squad considerably. He’s seen success at the under-23 level in the classics and he has the big, solid build that marks him down as a classics man at a single glance.
Pedersen made his debut for Trek-Segafredo at the 2017 Tour Down Under and did it on the Madone 9 Series RSL (or Race Shop Limited), a bike first envisioned for Cancellara. Trek dubs the Madone “the ultimate race bike” and to a large degree it really is. It’s incredibly stiff (according to some testing, it’s the most aero road bike in the peloton), it’s remarkably comfortable in the saddle and it can be built within a hair’s breadth of the UCI minimum. What’s not to like? Vector Wings—the flappy doors up front—keep the brake shrouded without interfering with the head tube’s cross section, and the IsoSpeed decoupler in back takes the sting from an aero bike’s traditionally rough ride while improving handling and power delivery on rough surfaces.
The RSL version Pedersen rides has geometry and fit designed for the WorldTour. The head tube of his 58cm Madone RSL is a full 3cm shorter than a 58cm stock Madone and to all that drop Pedersen adds a 140mm integrated Madone bar and stem. Like many other big riders at the Tour Down Under, Pedersen runs a 42cm-width bar rather than 44cm. Not only does it help him sneak through tight gaps in the peloton, it shows the increased focus on aerodynamics in rider-fit even on road bikes.
Pedersen’s Madone is built with Dura-Ace 9070 and a 54/39 Dura-Ace 9000 SRM. The 100-percent internal routing on the Trek makes it the cleanest bike in the peloton, despite all the wires associated with a Di2 build. His Bontrager Aeolus 5 tubular rims were wrapped with Veloflex Roubaix tires, further cementing Pedersen’s destiny as a man for the cobbles. The build is wrapped up with a Bontrager Serano RXL saddle and Bontrager’s ejection-proof Bat Cage bottle cages. Like every RSL Madone, the paint is full of hidden slogans like “Go and Take It” and “Swift Like an Arrow” to provide a bit of motivation.