Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl made the bold decision to leave an in-form Mark Cavendish at home. The British National Champion could have broken the record for most ever stage wins in the famous race, but his Quick-Step team will be hoping their decision to take Fabio Jakobsen will pay off with the Dutchman aiming for victory in the first road stage.
Their one bike for every road stage of this year’s Tour is the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7. The Tarmac SL7 famously killed off the Venge and Specialized doesn’t market its lightweight Aethos model as a race bike, so that leaves the riders with just one choice in the morning.
Not that it is a bad choice, we have to say. The team bike is decked out with the latest Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and Roval’s fastest wheels.
The wheels are the only change compared to the bikes raced at last year’s Tour de France. These are the Roval Rapide CLX II, which added a tubeless rim bed to a very successful design. Roval says that the design is its fastest ever (of course) and the Quick-Step riders will certainly hope so, given that they’ve got to try to get Fabio Jakobsen up to speed on the race’s first road stage.
Mounted to these wheels are a set of unreleased Specialized tyres. Specialized runs a development programme called ‘Project Black’ which they use to test products with the help of the pros. We saw Project Black in action before the launch of the Specialized S-Works Torch shoes, so we’d expect these tyres to be released in the coming months.
The frameset uses Specialized’s Fact 12r carbon, its highest grade, and this is formed into what are supposedly very aero tube shapes. The brake hoses run internally, entering through the upper headset bearing via a special spacer. As Shimano’s Di2 is now wireless, no cabling runs from the shifters to the derailleurs.
Being a race bike, you probably won’t be surprised to find that the gearing here is huge. The standard chainrings are now a 54/40T combination and most Quick-Step riders pair this with an 11-30T cassette. While these gears might make you light-headed, we’d actually expect the sprinters to go even bigger for the opening stages of the race as they will be flat, open and very exposed to the wind.
At the front of the bike, the team uses the SL7’s purpose-built stem which fits very neatly with the spacers. Interestingly, this bike has a 5mm spacer above the stem and the team, for ease of access to the stem and top-cap bolts, foregoes the sleek cover in favour of a potentially less aero design. Then again, we doubt that there is much in it.
The Quick-Step riders also have the choice between handlebars from Pro or Roval. This bike features a round Pro Vibe Superlight model, but we’d expect the likes of Jakobsen to opt for the more aero Roval bar. Finishing the front end is a ‘Wolfpack’ K-Edge out-front computer mount.
The team has the choice of any Specialized saddle and this rider is a fan of the S-Works Romin Mirror, a 3D-printed design.
And if you’re still wondering about what the pink thing on the fork is, that is a latex sleeve into which the mechanics slot the race’s timing chips.
Are you a fan of this design? Let us know in the comments below.