The 2021 Tour de France has been a blast but it's now over, and so here are the bikes that have been ridden to victory on every stage.
Main image: ASO/Charly Lopez
Stage 1: Julian Alaphilippe, Deceuninck–Quick-Step, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
Julian Alaphilippe won Stage 1 of this year’s Tour de France on a Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7, the same bike he piloted to victory on Stage 2 last year, although now painted with the World Champion’s stripes that he earned in Imola, Italy, in September.
The Tarmac SL7 is designed to be both lightweight and aerodynamically efficient, to the point that the brand has now retired its Venge aero bike.
> Read our Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 Dura-Ace Di2 review
Built-up with a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and Roval Rapide CLX wheels, Alaphilippe’s bike is very similar to the one we reviewed here on road.cc.
> Check out our Roval Alpinist CLX wheels review
Deceuninck–Quick-Step uses Specialized’s S-Works Turbo Cotton clincher tyres which the brand says are quicker than tubulars.
> Read our review of Specialized’s S-Works Turbo Cotton tyres
The team also uses Specialized Body Geometry shoes and saddles.
> Here’s how to decide on the best Specialized saddle for your type of riding
Stage 2: Mathieu van der Poel, Alpecin–Fenix, Canyon Aeroad
Picture credit, and main pic: SWPix.com
The updated Canyon Aeroad was launched just last October and already has an eventful history behind it. Some users complained of excessive wear to the seatpost and the German brand issuing a ‘stop ride’ notice relating to the CP0018 Aerocockpit. This led to pros using different bars with the cables running partially externally and then entering the frame via drilled holes.
However, Mathieu van der Poel was riding his Canyon Aeroad CFR with the correct handlebar and fully internal cable routing when he won stage 2 of the Tour de France, delighting his team and giving hope to Aeroad owners that a handlebar solution for consumers isn’t too far away.
The bike pictured above is the version that Van der Poel was riding on Stage 3, with a yellow frame to mark his status as race leader. It’s built up with a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and wheels and a Selle Italia Flite Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow saddle.
Stage 3: Tim Merlier, Alpecin–Fenix, Canyon Aeroad
Tim Merlier made it two wins in two days for Alpecin-Fenix after Caleb Ewan and Peter Sagan got tangled up, hit the deck, and slid a long, long way in the finale in Pontivy.
Like Mathieu van der Poel on Stage 2, Merlier was riding a Canyon Aeroad. However, Merlier’s bike had cables partly exposed at the front end. Canyon and the team mechanics haven’t sorted internal routing for the whole team yet.
All three stages so far have been won by riders using Dura-Ace Di2 groupsets, although Shimano does have a huge numerical advantage, providing the components for 17 of the 23 teams competing in this year’s race.
Stage 4: Mark Cavendish, Deceuninck–Quick-Step, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
MARK F***ING CAVENDISH! The 36-year-old Manx sprinter bagged his first Tour de France stage win since 2016 on a Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7, taking his lifetime total to 31.
Cav’s understated bike is built up with a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, Roval Rapide handlebars and Roval Rapide wheels fitted with Specialized’s Turbo Cotton clinchers. He uses a 3D printed Specialized S-Works Power saddle with Mirror Technology and the new S-Works Ares shoes.
> Read our review of the Specialized S-Works Power with Mirror Saddle
Four stages in and it’s two wins each for Deceuninck–Quick-Step and Alpecin–Fenix.
Stage 5: Tadej Pogacar, UAE Team Emirates, Colnago K-One
Pic: Alex Broadway-SWpix.com
Wow! We saw a huge show of strength from last year’s race winner in the first individual time trial (the penultimate stage is also an ITT) aboard his Colnago K-One. This is a rim brake bike with the front brake integrated into the fork and the rear brake mounted behind the bottom bracket to minimise drag.
UAE Team Emirates use Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupsets with the power meters coming from SRM. The wheels are from Campag too: that’s a tubeless-ready Bora WTO 77 on the front and a Bora Ultra TT at the back. This is available only for tubular tyres and weighs just 864g – very light for a disc wheel. On a mostly flat course, Pogačar used a single 58-tooth chainring.
Pogačar uses a Colnago base bar with custom extensions that fit his forearms snugly to improve aero efficiency. The SRM head unit sits tightly in the gap between them.
With Pogačar blowing everyone else away on the flat and his mountain climbing speciality yet to come, this race is currently heading in one clear direction.
Stage 6: Mark Cavendish, Deceuninck–Quick-Step, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
It's Cav again, on the same Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 he used to win Stage 4.
When a pro gets a Tour de France stage win it's usually the highlight of their career. They dine out on it for the rest of their life. Cav's now on 32. Ridiculous!
Stage 7: Matej Mohoric, Team Bahrain Victorious, Merida Reacto
Slovenian rider Matej Mohoric won Stage 7 and earned the polka-dot jersey after strong descending skills kept him away from the break and he dropped fellow escapee Brent Van More (Lotto Soudal).
Pic: Pauline Ballet
Mohoric was riding a Merida Reacto aero road bike, launched a year ago. The fourth-generation Reacto has internal cable routing and a new fork, where the crown is tucked further into the junction of the head tube and down tube than previously. The seatstays meet the seat tube lower than before too.
> Read our review of the Merida Reacto Team-E 2021
Team Bahrain Victorious uses Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupsets and wheels from Vision.
Stage 8: Dylan Teuns, Team Bahrain Victorious, Merida Scultura 5
Although it was a massive day in the General Classification with Tadej Podacar smashing his rivals in the mountains, Belgian Dylan Teuns took the stage victory, making it two wins in two days for Bahrain Victorious.
Unlike Matej Mohoric, Teuns was riding Merida’s yet-to-be-released Scultura 5. Although the bike has been on the UCI’s List of Approved Models of Framesets for months, Merida hasn’t told us when this updated bike will be unveiled officially.
Pic: @Bettiniphoto @TeamBahrainVictorious
Many lightweight bikes have been given aero features in their latest revamps – the Specialized Tarmac SL7, Trek Emonda, and Bianchi Specialissima, for instance. By the look of the Scultura 5, Merida has done similar here, the frame coming with quite a deep down tube and dropped seat stays although, unlike the Reacto, it doesn’t have an integrated fork crown or a seat tube that’s cutaway around the rear wheel.
Stage 9: Ben O’Connor, AG2R Citroen, BMC TeamMachine SLR01
Pic: Pauline Ballet
Tour debutante Ben O’Connor took an impressive stage victory at Tignes aboard his BMC TeamMachine SLR01. This bike has been updated for 2021 and it’s now lighter than previously – a claimed 820g for a 54cm painted frame – and it’s disc brake-only.
> Read our review of the BMC TeamMachine SLR Two
BMC says the TeamMachine SLR01 is more aero than before too – 6% more efficient at 45km/h (28mph). The head tube and down tube are the same width as previously but they’re now deeper while the fork blades deeper too, but also slimmed down.
AG2R Citroen uses Campagnolo’s Super Record EPS groupset and wheels from Campag too. Ben O’Connor was using 35mm deep Bora Ones in the mountains rather than the newer Campag Bora Ultra WTOs.
BMC offers an AG2R Citroen team edition of the TeamMachine SLR01 (above) at €15,499 (around £13,283).
First rest day
With nine stages done and dusted, here are the scores on the doors as far as stage wins go.
Disc brakes 8
Rim brakes 1
Of course, it's not a level playing field. Specialized has two teams in the race and Canyon has three, so those brands have a numerical advantage over most others. The same goes for Shimano, whose components are used by 17 of the 23 teams in this year's Tour de France, and the vast majority of riders now use disc brakes, but this is just a bit of fun.
At the same stage last year, five stages had been won by riders using rim brakes and four by riders using disc brakes so maybe the tide is turning here.
The other big difference is that Bianchi had three stage wins before the first rest day in 2020 courtesy of Team Jumbo-Visma. Team BikeExchange has yet to deliver one.
It's harder to tell which tyres the riders are using but we know that Alaphilippe and Cavendish are running Specialized Turbo Cotton clinchers. Pogacar has been using tubeless tyres on his Campag Bora WTO wheels, but the Bora Ultra TT rear wheel he used in the time trial is available for tubular tyres only.
Stage 10: Mark Cavendish, Deceuninck–Quick-Step, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
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He barely broke a sweat this time. 33!
Stage 11: Wout van Aert, Jumbo-Visma, Cervelo R5
Pic: Pauline Ballet
Belgian Wout van Aert was first home on a stage that involved climbing the monstrous Ventoux twice, riding an unreleased bike from Cervelo.
The existing R5 that’s available to the public has external cable routing but the cables are fully hidden on Van Aert’s bike. The head tube flares outwards towards the bottom here too, and the fork crown blends into the shape of the down tube. It has yet to appear on the UCI’s List of Approved Models of Framesets so we can’t confirm whether this is an updated R5 or a yet-to-be-released R6.
> Roglic spotted on possible 2021 Cervelo R6 road race bike - here’s what we know
Stage 12: Nils Politt, Bora-Hansgrohe, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
Bora-Hansgrohe’s Nils Politt escaped from the break and soloed to the stage win on his Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7. It’s a bike that has now been ridden to five stage victories in the 2021 Tour de France.
Like the SL7s used by Deceuninck–Quick-Step, Bora’s are equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupsets and Roval Rapide CLX wheels.
Stage 13: Mark Cavendish, Deceuninck–Quick-Step, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
Cav makes it 34 career Tour de France stage wins, equalling Eddy Merckx's record. The only downside is that we're running out of photos of him and his bike.
Taking the record outright on the Champs Élysées would be pretty cool.
This is a guy who was struggling to get a ride a few months ago.
Stage 14: Bauke Mollema, Trek-Segafredo, Trek Emonda
Pic: Charly Lopez
Dutch rider Bauke Mollema soloed to victory on his Trek Emonda SLR after attacking the breakaway with over 25 miles remaining.
Trek unveiled the latest version this time last year, claiming that it’s the brand’s fastest climbing bike ever with a claimed frame weight of just 698g. Like the Specialized Tarmac SL7, The Giant TCR and the Bianchi Specialissima, the Emonda is one of a number of lightweight bikes that have been given aero features recently. Engineers spent the majority of their time working on the front end – the bar/stem, head tube and down tube.
> All-new Émonda gets aero to become "Trek’s fastest climbing bike ever" – and it's disc brake-only
Mollema’s bike is built up with a SRAM Red eTap AXS groupset and Bontrager Aeolus wheels.
Stage 15: Sepp Kuss, Jumbo–Visma, Cervelo R5
Sepp Kuss won the stage to Andorra in the Pyrenees on a similar Cervelo to the one that Wout van Aert rode to victory on stage 11. It’s either an updated R5 with the cables internally routed at the front end, or a new R6 model. The groupset is Shimano Dura-Ace Di2.
Second rest day
With nine stages done and dusted, here are the scores on the doors as far as stage wins go.
Disc brakes 14
Rim brakes 1
With 15 stages done, Specialized has as many wins as the next three brands put together courtesy of the Quick-Step-Deceuninck and Bora-Hansgrohe teams.
There are just six stages remaining so Shimano is certain to come out on top in the groupset wars.
Just one stage has been won on a bike with disc brakes: the first individual time trial, which Tadej Pogacar took on his Colnago K:One. Of course, there are very few rim brake bikes being raced now and Team Ineos, which competes on rim brake-equipped Pinarello Dogma Fs, hasn't been able to dominate like it has in many recent years.
Stage 16: Patrick Conrad, Bora-Hansgrohe, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
Pic: ASO/Charly Lopez
Austrian Patrick Conrad secured his first Tour de France stage win after breaking away from a small lead group with 36km (23 miles) to go. He was riding a Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7.
Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck–Quick-Step riders have won seven of the 15 road stages (there has been one individual time trial) on this bike. Like the others, Conrad was using Roval Rapide CLX wheels and Specialized's Turbo Cotton clinchers which the brand claims offer lower weight, less rolling resistance, and better handling than any tubular can provide.
Stage 17: Tadej Pogacar, UAE Team Emirates, Colnago V3Rs
Pic: ASO/Pauline Ballet
Although he has been riding mostly on disc brake bikes this year, race leader Tadej Pogacar opted for a rim brake Colnago V3Rs for the mountainous stage that finished on the Col du Portet, probably for a slight weight advantage.
Pogacar’s bike is fitted with a Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset and Campag’s Bora Ultra wheels.
Stage 18: Tadej Pogacar, UAE Team Emirates, Colnago V3Rs
Pic: ASO/Charly Lopez
Two summit finishes in two days, and two wins for Tadej Pogacar. He was on the rim brake version of the Colnago V3Rs again.
There's never been any doubt who would win this year's Tour since Pogacar dominated the stage 5 time trial. With all the mountains done and dusted, he now only has to stay upright until reaching Paris.
Stage 19: Matej Mohoric, Team Bahrain Victorious, Merida Reacto
It’s not defending TDF yellow jersey winner Tadej Pogacar who is the reigning Slovenian national champion, it’s Matej Mohoric.
In honour of this, Mohoric was given a specially coloured white, blue and red Reacto, which he crossed the line aboard on his second victory at the Tour this year.
With 25km to go, the Slovenian attacked from the break to scoop up the win in Libourne, just as he had done a fortnight ago when he won at Le Creusot.
Mohoric was on Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and Vision wheels—with stickers that are also in the colours of the Slovenian flag.
Stage 20: Wout van Aert, Team Jumbo-Visma, Cervelo P5
Setting a blisteringly fast 51.5km/h average over 30.8km, Wout van Aert went 21 seconds quicker than second placed Kasper Asgreen of Deceuninck – Quick Step to win the second TT of this year’s Tour.
By doing so van Aert ticked off one of his biggest goals in his career, to win a time trial in the Tour de France, and he did so on Cervelo’s aero TT machine, the P5, with Vision TT bars.
Stage 21: Wout van Aert, Team Jumbo-Visma, Cervelo S5
After snapping up a victories for the lightweight climber R5 after two ascents of Ventoux and the P5 in the fast individual time trial, van Aert hit the hattrick for Cervelo’s range as he sprinted to victory on the S5 at the prestigious Champs-Elysees finish. He also joined an exclusive group of riders who have won a mountain stage, time trial and sprint stage at the same Tour.
Teammate Mike Teunissen perfectly led out van Aert, while Cavendish found himself boxed in and was denied the outright record for stage wins at the Tour de France—he remains tied on 34 stage wins with Eddy Merckx.
The S5 features a V-shaped stem that’s designed to “to present less obstruction to the oncoming high-velocity airflow between the rider’s arms”.
As well as focusing on aerodynamics in the latest model, Cervelo increased head tube stiffness by 13% in order to improve handling, as well as bottom bracket stiffness by 25%.
With all the stages now done and dusted, here are the final scores on the doors as far as stage wins go.
Disc brakes 18
Rim brakes 3
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