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Pro bike: Tejay Van Garderen's HTC-Highroad Specialized Project Black S-Works McLaren Development Bike Tour de France

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Young HTC-Highroad hotshot Tejay Van Garderen is hoping for a good showing at this year's Tour de France aboard Specialized's latest "Project Black" machine - a joint collaboration with McLaren to see if improvements can be made on the consumer-spec S-Works Tarmac SL4.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The Di2-specific routing on Tejay Van Garderen's (HTC-Highroad) Specialized McLaren Tarmac SL4 is particularly clean.

The Di2-specific routing on Tejay Van Garderen's (HTC-Highroad) Specialized McLaren Tarmac SL4 is particularly clean.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) is using PRO's previous-generation Vibe carbon cockpit.

Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) is using PRO's previous-generation Vibe carbon cockpit.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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HTC-Highroad team bikes are equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2.

HTC-Highroad team bikes are equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) is using the anatomic-bend version of PRO's Vibe carbon bar.

Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) is using the anatomic-bend version of PRO's Vibe carbon bar.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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fi'zi:k provides riders with several options for its saddle models. In this case, Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) has chosen the TwinFlex carbon shell and braided carbon fiber rails

fi'zi:k provides riders with several options for its saddle models. In this case, Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) has chosen the TwinFlex carbon shell and braided carbon fiber rails
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A small magnet is glued directly on to the rim to trigger the wireless speed sensor.

A small magnet is glued directly on to the rim to trigger the wireless speed sensor.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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HTC-Highroad team bikes are fitted with Elite Sior cages, which hide a titanium loop inside the carbon fiber structure.

HTC-Highroad team bikes are fitted with Elite Sior cages, which hide a titanium loop inside the carbon fiber structure.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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CeramicSpeed is an official sponsor of HTC-Highroad, supplying the team with bottom brackets, derailleur pulleys, and hub bearings.

CeramicSpeed is an official sponsor of HTC-Highroad, supplying the team with bottom brackets, derailleur pulleys, and hub bearings.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Continental Competition Pro Limited Allround tubulars are mounted to 35mm-deep Shimano carbon rims.

Continental Competition Pro Limited Allround tubulars are mounted to 35mm-deep Shimano carbon rims.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The new Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 is built with hollow carbon fiber dropouts.

The new Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 is built with hollow carbon fiber dropouts.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The seat tube on the new Specialized McLaren Tarmac SL4 is squared off at the bottom.

The seat tube on the new Specialized McLaren Tarmac SL4 is squared off at the bottom.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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CeramicSpeed supplies the slippery alloy lower bearing but team mechanics have opted to retain the standard floating Shimano upper pulley for better shifting performance.

CeramicSpeed supplies the slippery alloy lower bearing but team mechanics have opted to retain the standard floating Shimano upper pulley for better shifting performance.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) puts the power down through a set of carbon Shimano Dura-Ace PD-7900 pedals.

Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) puts the power down through a set of carbon Shimano Dura-Ace PD-7900 pedals.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) doesn't use any spacers beneath his stem but the tall cone still keeps the bars at a somewhat reasonable height.

Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) doesn't use any spacers beneath his stem but the tall cone still keeps the bars at a somewhat reasonable height.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tejay Van Garderen's (HTC-Highroad) name is applied to the top tube as usual

Tejay Van Garderen's (HTC-Highroad) name is applied to the top tube as usual
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The seat stays are widely spaced but pinched down in height at the seat tube for a more comfortable ride.

The seat stays are widely spaced but pinched down in height at the seat tube for a more comfortable ride.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Just as on the Tarmac SL3 predecessor, the bottom bracket area on Specialized's latest Tarmac SL4 is heavily reinforced.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The top tube starts out wide and flat by the seat tube but expands in height and takes a distinct curve as it joins to the head tube.

The top tube starts out wide and flat by the seat tube but expands in height and takes a distinct curve as it joins to the head tube.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Team mechanics have modified the SRM computer mount to tuck it in tighter against the stem.

Team mechanics have modified the SRM computer mount to tuck it in tighter against the stem.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The extra-wide top tube and down tube give the head tube a distinctly curvy profile. Oh, and that ominous figure standing in the background? That's part of the team's security detail.

The extra-wide top tube and down tube give the head tube a distinctly curvy profile. Oh, and that ominous figure standing in the background? That's part of the team's security detail.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The top tube flares outward and curves downward as it joins the head tube in what is now a Specialized trademark frame feature.

The top tube flares outward and curves downward as it joins the head tube in what is now a Specialized trademark frame feature.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Shimano's latest Dura-Ace hubs use a so-called 'indexed' adjustment mechanism for more precise tuning of the cup-and-cone bearings.

Shimano's latest Dura-Ace hubs use a so-called 'indexed' adjustment mechanism for more precise tuning of the cup-and-cone bearings.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The rear derailleur wire is neatly run inside the chain stay.

The rear derailleur wire is neatly run inside the chain stay.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The seat tube on the new Specialized Tarmac SL4 is squared off at the bottom.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tejay Van Garderen's (HTC-Highroad) Specialized S-Works Project Black McLaren development bike is equipped with a standard Shimano Dura-Ace crankset.

Tejay Van Garderen's (HTC-Highroad) Specialized S-Works Project Black McLaren development bike is equipped with a standard Shimano Dura-Ace crankset.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The rear end of Specialized's latest "Project Black" machine follows the small seat stay/large chain stay design philosophy.

The rear end of Specialized's latest "Project Black" machine follows the small seat stay/large chain stay design philosophy.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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HTC-Highroad sponsor PRO doesn't currently offer a zero-offset seatpost so Tejay Van Garderen's bike is fitted with an unmarked 3T Dorico instead.

HTC-Highroad sponsor PRO doesn't currently offer a zero-offset seatpost so Tejay Van Garderen's bike is fitted with an unmarked 3T Dorico instead.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Mechanics mark a specific location on top of the saddle for better accuracy when setting up the rider's fit measurements.

Mechanics mark a specific location on top of the saddle for better accuracy when setting up the rider's fit measurements.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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This area is looking decidedly empty since there are conventional cables on the HTC-Highroad team bikes.

This area is looking decidedly empty since there are conventional cables on the HTC-Highroad team bikes.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)

Specialized is on a bit of a tear this year, scoring several key wins on brand new bikes nearly right after they were introduced to the public. The latest chapter is the company's new-bike saga is its S-Works Tarmac SL4 and one of the HTC-Highroad riders with the potential to do something big this time around is young American hotshot Tejay Van Garderen.

The Tarmac SL4 continues with the light-and-stiff theme of the SL3 predecessor but with the usual tweaks expected of a newer version. The lower steerer tube diameter has been slimmed down to 1 3/8in to save weight while the down tube and top tube have grown in width to boost torsional stiffness; the seat stays boast a flattened upper section for a more comfortable ride; chain stays have been puffed up to bolster pedaling efficiency; and the rear dropouts have been upgraded to hollow carbon fiber.

In total, Specialized claims a 19 percent boost in stiffness and a 50g weight savings relative to the SL3.

Van Garderen's bike isn't an off-the-shelf SL4, though. Technically speaking, it's a "Specialized Project Black S-Works McLaren" development bike according to company PR man Nic Sims - otherwise known as a test mule built in conjunction with partner McLaren for a possible higher-end version of the standard SL4.

Naturally, Sims couldn't say exactly what differences exist between a standard SL4 and Van Garderen's bike but based on the companies' previous collaboration on the Venge model, weight and stiffness are obvious targets for improvement. Sims did tell us, however, that Specialized will make a final decision on whether or not to truly bring an "S-Works McLaren Tarmac SL4" to market based on what sort of performance gains can be had and how much they would cost. Team test riders such as Van Garderen will be providing feedback to Specialized during the Tour and then we'll know after things wrap up in Paris.

One obvious change, however, is the routing. Consumer bikes use convertible internal routing that will work with either mechanical or electronic systems but Van Garderen's machine is notably Di2-only - the entry ports on the down tube are shaved clean and the result is an impressively tidy appearance (that in all honesty, is a welcome departure from early season Di2-equipped team bikes that were occasionally a little clumsy in comparison).

The main wiring harness now enters the top tube just ahead of the brake housing, there's a port on the front of the seat tube for the front derailleur line, and the rear derailleur wire runs all the way through the driveside chain stay. Oh, but where's the battery? It isn't visible through the unused bottom bracket cable guide port, there is no mounting bracket hardware on the exterior surface of the frame, and it doesn't rattle around when the bike is shaken. In addition, there's also no obvious method by which the battery is charged.

HTC TechDev manager Lars Teutenberg would only say on the record that the battery is safely tucked away inside the frame - and that's as far as he would go. He was much more forthcoming off the record, though, and we're unfortunately restricted to saying that the system is remarkably clever - to the point where once word gets out, other Di2 users will undoubtedly have a "why didn't I think of that?" moment.

Shimano also rounds out most of the rest of Van Garderen's build, including the 35mm-deep carbon tubular wheels, carbon-bodied SPD-SL pedals, and previous-generation PRO stem and anatomic-bend bar. Tires are from Continental, fi'zi:k provides its top-end Aliante saddle with Twin Flex carbon shell and braided carbon rails, and Elite supplies its latest Sior carbon fiber and titanium bottle cages. That Aliante saddle is mounted atop an unmarked 3T Dorico seatpost instead of the team-issue PRO one, however, as PRO as yet still doesn't produce one with Van Garderen's requisite zero-offset head.

Final touches are filled in with SRM power meters and computer heads (though Van Garderen's bike went with a standard crank just prior to the start of the Tour), a custom etched K-Edge chain catcher from AceCo, and CeramicSpeed bearings and lower derailleur pulleys.

Total weight as pictured is 6.84kg (15.08lb).

Full Specifications

Bike specifications

Frame: Specialized McLaren Tarmac SL4, 56cm
Fork: Specialized McLaren Tarmac SL4
Headset: Cane Creek integrated, 1 1/8-to-1 3/8in
Stem: PRO Vibe, 140mm x -6°
Handlebars: PRO Vibe Anatomic, 42cm (c-c)
Tape/grips: PRO cork
Front brake: Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7900 w/ carbon-specific pads
Rear brake: Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7900 w/ carbon-specific pads
Brake levers: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 STI Dual Control ST-7970
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 FD-7970
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 RD-7970
Shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 STI Dual Control ST-7970
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7900, 12-27T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7900
Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace FC-7900, 175mm, 53/39T
Bottom bracket: CeramicSpeed
Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SL PD-7900
Wheelset: Shimano Dura-Ace WH-7900-C35-TU
Front tire: Continental Competition Pro Limited Allround tubular, 22mm
Rear tire: Continental Competition Pro Limited Allround tubular, 22mm
Saddle: fi'zi:k Aliante Carbon Twin Flex
Seat post: 3T Dorico (unmarked)
Bottle cages: Elite Sior (2)
Computer: SRM Power Control 7
Other accessories: Custom internal battery configuration

Critical measurements

Rider's height: 1.85m (6' 1")
Rider's weight: 67kg (148lb)
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 817mm
Saddle setback: 75mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 548mm
Seat tube length, c-c: 499mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 604mm
Saddle-to-bar drop (vertical): 135mm
Head tube length: 160mm
Top tube length: 565mm
Total bicycle weight: 6.84kg (15.08lb)