Lotte Kopecky of SD Worx won the Tour of Flanders for a second time on Sunday, making it look easy with an acceleration on the final ascent of the Kwaremont, and here’s the Specialized Tarmac SL7 she was riding.
SD Worx has dominated the UCI Women's World Tour this spring, taking victories at Strade Bianche, Gent Wevelgem, Dwars door Vlaanderen, and a host of other races. Demi Vollering took the sprint in the chase group at Flanders to make it a 1-2 for the team.
Specialized launched the Tarmac SL7 back in 2020 and it has been ridden to countless wins since then by the likes of Julian Alaphillipe and Mark Cavendish. Top-level race bikes usually get redesigned every three or four years so we wouldn’t be surprised to see a Tarmac SL8 released later in 2023. The fact that Specialized has retired its Venge aero road bike makes this even more likely.
When launching the Tarmac SL7 Specialized said, “The idea of a climbing bike and an aero bike… is simply old fashioned. We have the technical ability to create a bike that's as aero as rules allow and as light as rules allow in a single package. Anything else would be forcing riders to make a compromise on race day, and we just weren't okay with that anymore.”
The brand has since introduced the super-light Aethos although this platform isn’t designed primarily for racing.
Specialized says that with the SL7 it has targeted the frame tubes that impact the aero performance most and made them using profiles derived from its FreeFoil Shape Library, the brand’s collection of airfoil shapes.
It says that by limiting the frame surface area and strategically reducing the wall thickness across the frame it is able to create an 800g frame without sacrificing aerodynamics, stiffness or ride quality.
We’ve certainly been impressed by the Tarmac SL7. The overall performance is excellent.
Although 1.71m tall, Lotte Kopecky rides a 52cm frame, perhaps because she wants a short head tube so as to present a smaller frontal area. She runs just a 5mm spacer below the integrated handlebar/stem.
That handlebar/stem has yet to be officially released although we first spotted it on Kopecky’s bike back in January. Other pro riders are using it too.
The uppers are aero-section and arc forwards slightly from the centre. You can see the brake hoses tucked away under the stem section although they aren’t fully internally routed, presumably to simplify replacement and adjustment of the cockpit. The bars are wrapped in Supercaz tape.
While we’re talking about the contact points, that’s not a Specialized saddle even though the US brand is SD Worx’s official sponsor. It’s increasingly rare for pros to use non-sponsored kit but Kopecky uses a Syncros Belcarra on top of an inline seat post.
Roval – which is owned by Specialized but run as a separate company – supplies the wheels. These are Rapide CLXII with a 51mm deep rim up front and 60mm at the rear. The rim profiles are shaped distinctly differently from one another, the front one being significantly wider – the external width is 35mm compared with 30.7mm at the back – to improve the overall aero performance.
The wheels are fitted with Specialized’s Turbo Cotton tyres which we described as “fast, grippy and oh so beautiful – perfect race tyres, bar the cost” when we reviewed them. Well, you wouldn’t expect the pros to race on any old rubbish, would you?
SD Worx use SRAM Red eTap groupsets. Kopecky used a 50/37-tooth chainset, complete with a Quarq power meter, for the Tour of Flanders. There are big rumours that SRAM Red will be updated this year but we’ve yet to see new components appear on pro team bikes.
Kopecky uses Time XPro 15 pedals. SRAM owns Time these days so the SD Worx sponsorship covers both brands.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.