The 2023 'Super' Cycling World Championships in Scotland has been billed as the biggest cycling event ever. Immersed in the centre of it all in Glasgow, that’s very easy to believe! Here are 10 of the coolest techy things we’ve spotted so far at the inaugural 'Cycling Olympics' on the road and track. You can also head over to off.road.cc to check out mountain bike, gravel and BMX highlights so far.
It would be remiss not to start with THAT elite men’s road race. The city centre, criterium-esque circuit wasn’t to the liking of all the riders, but it did deliver on the entertainment front. It’s hard to argue that some of the best in the peloton didn’t rise to the occasion.
Second place was snapped up by Wout van Aert, and it was only Mathieu van der Poel that prevented yet another big race from being won by a single front chainring setup. Although Wout van Aert led the Jumbo Visma/Belgian charge, he was far from the only rider to ditch a second chainring. Nathan van Hooydonck and Tiesj Benoot also opted for SRAM’s 1x setup, so it’s safe to say that 1x isn’t going anywhere and is going to be a debate that rages on for some time yet.
Aside from the physical racing, perhaps the biggest news from Sunday at the World Championships was the new Specialized Tarmac SL8. You can read our first ride review and all the tech details here.
Many of the team leaders had access to - and chose to ride - the new bike, including the likes of Remco Evenepoel, Julian Alaphillippe and Peter Sagan. Specialized will get another chance at the top spot on Sunday as Lorena Wiebes and Demi Vollering line up for the women’s elite road race.
The new bike may not have been ridden to victory in the men’s race, but it did still create plenty of buzz. We got the chance to see Evenepoel's Project Black bike up close, as well as the Soudal Quickstep and women's SD Worx colour schemes.
Despite being one of the lucky riders to get access to the new SL8, three-time road race world champion Peter Sagan opted to not use the new Roval cockpit, which Specialized claims to be four watts faster at 40kph. Instead, he used the weightier Venge stem.
We’re unsure why Sagan would rather use the heavier Venge stem, which is now two generations old and has since been superseded by the SL7 stem, and now the Roval cockpit. A potential motive is that it's rumoured to be slightly stiffer.
Specialized engineers exclaimed “Sagan loves that Venge stem”, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be upgrading any time soon.
Over on the track, we’ve seen absolutely loads of new bikes as nations search for every advantage possible. Team GB unveiled their new Lotus Hope track bike (above) recently before the games, the Danes have been putting their new Canyon to good use, France has been riding a new (very unique) Look bike and Japan and Argentina have also been getting in on the act with their own radical designs...
It’s fairly unanimous that wider seat stays that start as high up the bike as possible are faster, but are all these new bikes fair? Personally, I would argue not. Just like in the 70s and 80s, track cycling appears to be becoming an arms race when really it should be about the athletes, regardless of the size and/or affluence of the nation they come from.
It’s hard to see that the UCI won’t take a similar view, so perhaps these are the fastest bikes that we’ll see for some time if a crackdown does indeed happen. An honourable mention goes to Australia, as ignoring the custom 3D-printed titanium cockpits, they're on Argon 18 bikes that you can actually buy for an amount of money that is comparable to other top-of-the-range 'off-the-peg' bikes. Which is still a lot of money, but still...
It’s tenuously a tech highlight, but it’s most definitely (in my opinion) cool! The track is full of super high-tech skinsuits and materials, but it was the Nigerian national kit that caught our eye.
It can be seen here in the women’s team sprint qualification race. Bonus points if you can name the year of the football jersey that surely inspired it down in the comments below…
Dan Bigham almost caused the biggest upset of the games, as the Ineos aero guru proved he has the legs as well as the science by coming very close to beating track phenomenon Filippo Ganna in the Individual Pursuit.
It’s not that electric evening in the Chris Hoy velodrome that we want to draw your attention to though, rather his outdoor appearance in the mixed relay team time trial. Team GB did enough for fourth on the day, and Bigham was certainly very competitive on his debadged Cervelo P5-Three frameset.
The massive chainring, base bar and aero bars unsurprisingly all come from the Wattshop brand, which is run by the self-proclaimed aero obsessive himself. The pedals are single-sided Wahoo Speedplay Aero, and there’s also a CeramicSpeed Aero OSPW system.
A TriRig Omega One front brake calliper completes the build. I’m confident in saying that if Bigham saw a big enough advantage to switch to disc brakes, then he would have. Does this mean that rim brake bikes are more aero after all?
Finally, the tyres are Continental's GP5000TT TR, and appear to have inner tubes inside them (we presume latex ones). Many of Bigham's rivals opted for tubeless.
As well as the pro race bikes from every discipline, the World Championships present an opportunity for brands from around the world to showcase their latest designs to cycling fans.
Each brand tries to outdo each other with loud special designs, and this one in particular caught many an eye. The spec sheet of the Cannondale SuperSix Evo SE is surprisingly ordinary when compared to its paint job, with a mechanical SRAM Force 1 groupset and aluminium wheels.
This paintjob appeared on one of two Cannondale bikes at the show that got the Stella McCartney treatment (there are 18 designs in total) that Cannondale says “celebrate the spirit of self-expression and creativity.”
The bikes can usually be found at one of four Stella McCartney flagship stores in London, New York, Shanghai and Tokyo. I guess, the real question is… given the chance, would you ride around on a bike this loud?
There's a lot more variety among bikes in the peloton at a World Championships compared to the big races we usually cover, and that’s nowhere more true than on the road.
In Sunday’s men's elite road race, we spotted this very green Hrinkow-branded bike being ridden by Tadej Pogacar’s Slovenian teammate Jaka Primozic of Team Hrinkow Advarics.
The bikes are made in Austria, with e-bike, cross country and road frames to choose from. Primozic opted for the Scorpion SL Disc frame for the rolling Glasgow course.
Michael Mathews of Jayco Alula and the Australian National Team came into the Glasgow World's Road Race as an outside favourite, and for much of the race looked to be in control. You can check out his post-race interview including his honest thoughts on the course, the neutralisation and how racing has changed through his career in our upcoming road.cc podcast.
Mathews had plenty of good words to say about his Giant Propel, and still present from the day before was his nutrition notes adorning the VERY long stem. The stem notes show that Mathews was planning on getting through a 500ml bottle per hour, with a combination of carbs, 'big carbo' and salts.
There's also plenty of variety in the food: carb gels, isotonic gels, bakes, chews, rice cakes and a SiS Nootropics gel, which contains 'Cognizin Citicoline', said to support both physical and mental performance by improving brain function.
My final takeaway from the worlds is not exactly surprising, but it was odd to see such a wide selection of different bikes on the roof of each country's team car.
For the rest of the cycling calendar, save for a few special paint jobs, all the bikes will be all but identical as each team is tied to its sponsors, suppliers and brand identity. At the World Championships, though, nations are made up of riders from a wide variety of trade teams. None are allowed to, or would likely want to, switch bikes for one weekend of racing.
What's been your favourite moment or tech from the 2023 Cycling World Championships? Let us know in the comments section below...
Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...