Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) stormed the Giro d'Italia last year with a stunning second-place finish behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). The climbing specialist wants to move one step up on the podium this time around, though, and is hoping the Colombian-themed colors of his brand new Specialized S-Works Tarmac will inspire him to get there.
Specialized simply refers to this fifth generation of its top-end road bike as the "S-Works Tarmac" but it clearly borrows much of the design language from the previous S-Works Tarmac SL4, including mechanically efficient roundish tube shapes and gentle shape transitions throughout, oversized top and down tubes that effectively wrap around the hourglass-profile tapered head tube, and the company's own oversized bottom bracket shell.
Specialized claims, however, that all of the new sizes were developed as ground-up projects instead of the usual practice of starting with a 56cm and then adapting other sizes from there. As a result, ride qualities are supposedly even more consistent across the range than before with better stiffness and handling precision on the larger sizes than the previous model while smaller models - such as Urán's 52cm chassis - are said to be more comfortable and chatter less through bumpy corners.
As such, Specialized has also returned to a size-specific tapered steerer tube concept with Urán's frame sporting just a modestly oversized 1 1/4in diameter. A new internal seatpost binder that's 35mm further down than before also effectively adds more exposed shaft (and thus, more room to flex) for the slim, 27.2mm-diameter seatpost.
Team mechanics, on the other hand, are likely more excited about the new aluminum interface for the bottom bracket shell, which should provide a more precise fit and greatly reduce the chance of creaking long-term - a key feature for a bike that will be cleaned with a pressure washer almost daily and whose bearings will be replaced relatively frequently.
Build kit is very straightforward with no special weight saving bits to speak of, which makes sense given the bike is already barely UCI-legal as it stands here. Standard team-issued pieces include the SRAM Red 22 transmission and brakes; carbon wheels, a carbon seatpost, and an aluminum cockpit from Zipp; a Quarq power meter; and a saddle, carbon fiber crankarms, and tubular tires from Specialized.
Urán's bike was fitted with typical 53/39-tooth chainrings up front but an 11-28T SRAM PG-1170 cassette out back - perhaps unusually easy gearing for the flatter earlier stages of this year's Giro. More importantly, it's with a mid-cage 'WiFli' rear derailleur that suggests he's go with even-larger cogs as the big mountains beckon later on.
Urán perhaps cares most about the special paint job on his new bike, though, whose colors are borrowed from the Colombian flag. With the biggest races being held in Europe, Urán is certainly further from home than most riders in the peloton. Perhaps a little reminder of climbing his local mountains will give him a little extra inspiration to scale the Italian ones.