The biggest race in the sport begins next week. More than 10 million spectators will line the roads in Belgium and France, plus, with certain stages having an average television audience of over 12 million, the viewership and brand exposure at the Tour de France is second to none.
With the world’s eyes on the race, as a bike brand, manufacturer or technical sponsor, it’s probably not a bad time to launch the latest and greatest addition to your range. Here, we take a look at what we expect to see over the next few weeks, plus what bikes and components each team will be riding.
The June races of the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse offers a final race tune ahead of the Tour for both riders and new products alike. At this year’s Dauphine, Cyclingnews saw a new Scott Addict RC - which was launched earlier this week - a new Cannondale SuperSix EVO in both rim and disc brake format, plus a new time trial bike from Specialized, which has also been spotted at the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de Suisse.
Italian brand Wilier also launched a new bike this week in their new, climbing-specific Zero SLR, which will be raced on by Niki Terpstra’s Total Direct Energie team.
Alongside the above, Cyclingnews can reveal that there is a number of other particularly interesting product launches taking place from a number of brands in the build-up to and during this year’s Tour de France, all of which will be announced on the site as they happen.
Who’s riding what?
|AG2R La Mondiale||Eddy Merckx||Shimano||Mavic|
|Astana Pro Team||Argon 18||Shimano||Corima|
|EF Education First||Cannondale||Shimano||Vision|
|Total Direct Energie||Wilier||Shimano||FFWD|
|UAE Team Emirates||Colnago||Campagnolo||Campagnolo|
The groupset dominance from Shimano continues in 2019 but following the launch of 12-speed electronic groupsets from SRAM and Campagnolo earlier this year, the eyes will be on those as to whether they can perform on the biggest stage after a few teething problems for SRAM.
Campagnolo, on the other hand, has already seen Alejandro Valverde and Richard Carapaz (Movistar Team) win a world championship road race title and the Giro d’Italia on their new 12-speed groupsets, respectively.
We don’t expect a 12-speed groupset from Shimano for this year’s edition of the race but it wouldn’t be a surprise if it perhaps the last before a new range-topping – and probably 12-speed – groupset is launched by the brand.
Welcome to the future
Power meters, clipless pedals, electronic drivetrains, wireless drivetrains, aerodynamics and more have all, slowly but surely and often controversially, become synonymous with bikes at the highest level of cycling.
The purists may not like all of the new technology but eventually, it all becomes prevalent in racing, as well as commercially.
The past few seasons have seen disc brakes slowly become integrated into the WorldTour and while Bora-hansgrohe, Trek-Segafredo, Deceuninck-QuickStep, Dimension Data and Katusha-Alpecin have raced almost exclusively on disc brakes. However, it was only 2017 when Marcel Kittel took the first Tour de France stage racing on the technology and with the above teams racing mountain stages with disc brakes, it’s only a matter of time before they take over exclusively.
Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) made headlines back in the spring by becoming the first winner of a WorldTour race using tubeless tyres. A few hiccups during Paris-Roubaix while using the tyres may have put the implementation of the tyre technology on the rocks but since the three punctures ended Kristoff’s hopes of a third Monument, the Norwegian and his teammates have since been racing on the Vittoria tubeless tyres.
Like disc brakes, the proliferation of tubeless tyres is likely just a matter of time before we see the shift of the technology being a majority as opposed to a minority in the Tour de France peloton. New wheels from Campagnolo and other key brands are all tubeless ready and we expect a few more new wheels to be launched in the coming weeks.
New national champions and customisation
The Tour de Suisse was the final stage racing preparation for the majority of the Tour de France contenders, however, many riders will spend this weekend in their home countries competing in the national championships and earning the honour of wearing a custom national champion’s jersey during the Tour.
Bike brands also enjoy celebrating the success – and additional exposure – with custom painted framesets, helmets, sunglasses, shoes, computers and more. Plus, for the classification jersey winners and headline riders - we’re looking at you Peter Sagan - the carpet is also often rolled out with special customisations for the Tour.
After losing two-thirds of last year’s podium in Chris Froome (Team Ineos) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), this year’s race could be one of the most unpredictable for years.
Alongside the drama of the race itself, Cyclingnews will have extensive coverage of all of the tech at this year’s Tour de France, including new products, pro bike features, tech galleries, tech analysis, exclusive insights and more.