A couple of months and one pandemic later than planned, the 2020 Tour de France is finally upon us. We've seen the team announcements, we've given you the Tour de France preview, and a hotlist of the Tour de France contenders. But now it's time to discuss the fun stuff: the Tour de France bikes.
The Tour de France is a hotbed of new tech, and one of the best places to see the best road bikes the world has to offer, but such bike nerds that we are, we couldn't wait until La Grande Boucle for the latest tech, and we recently compiled everything we could find into a back-to-racing tech gallery.
With that said, the eyes of the world will be watching the Tour de France, so sponsors will be keen to show off even more new bikes, components, clothing and accessories, and we can't wait to find it for you.
This year, we'll be bringing you galleries of the riders' bikes, similar to this gallery of Peter Sagan's Specialized Venge from last year's race. We'll have tech galleries, such as this 69-photo-strong gallery from 2019, and we'll be bringing you all the new bike scoops and stories we can find.
So, without further ado, here's the tech we're looking forward to from the Tour de France 2020.
Tour de France bikes
With the new dates of this year's race, the lead up to the race has perfectly coincided with 'new bike season'; the summer months during which bike manufacturers announce the following year's lineups. This year has been a strange one in many regards, but on the bike launch front, it remains largely unchanged, and we've seen new bikes from almost all of the top brands.
In April, Giant launched the new TCR, so expect to see CCC Team riding aboard their new matte-black lightweight bikes - except for Greg van Avermaet, who is still rocking his gold Olympic champion's theme. The rim brake-equipped TCR belonging to Simon Geschke weighs in at a UCI-illegal 6.4kg, so look out for a smattering of comfort-enhancing, weight-adding tech aboard his machine.
Trek dropped two new road bikes this summer, with the newly designed Emonda making the biggest splash before making its best aero road bike even better by applying the new OCLV 800 carbon fibre to the Madone. If the road points up, expect more Emondas on show, but for flatter days and sprint finishes, expect the Madone to make an appearance.
With much fanfare, the new Specialized Tarmac SL7 was launched more recently, simultaneously killing off the old Tarmac and the aero Venge, so expect to see Tarmac SL7 bikes throughout the lineups of both of Specialized's sponsored teams, Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck-QuickStep.
BMC also announced a new version of the TeamMachine SLR, so the climbing contingent of the NTT Pro Cycling team will likely be found aboard this new model. While newly-crowned Italian national and European road race champion, Giacomo Nizzolo, will probably stick to the aero TimeMachine Road, we're looking forward to seeing if BMC gives it a custom paint job.
Bahrain-McLaren's bike sponsor Merida has been busy this summer, too. While the Scultura Endurance mightn't be something the team will use for racing, the new Merida Reacto certainly will, and we expect that'll be the bike of choice for Sonny Colbrellli, Marco Haller and co.
And to round out the new bikes on show at the Tour de France, Cyclingnews spotted that Lapierre had a new Aircode way back in March at Opening Weekend. It's no longer a secret, so look out for Groupama-FDJ riders to be using that on the flatter days.
For a full rundown on the WorldTour teams and their tech sponsors, check out our guide to the WorldTour bikes.
Other tech we're hoping to see
Having sifted through the UCI's list of approved frames and forks, there are two bikes that stand out as to-be-released.
Given Warren Barguil has been riding it already - as shown in our back-to-racing tech gallery - the as-yet-unreleased Canyon Aeroad is almost guaranteed to make an appearance at this year's Tour de France. We're hoping we'll get an official line from Canyon soon, but after last year's tease-and-no-release, we're only about 6/10 confident it'll be launched this side of Christmas.
Israel Start-Up Nation's sponsor Factor might feel as though they're on the cusp of big things, what with Chris Froome heading to the Israeli outfit, followed by a selection of high-profile signings. They'll be hoping then that their new bike fits the bill. The Ostro, rumoured to be an all-rounder bike similar to the latest crop of lightweight aero bikes, made an appearance on the UCI list in July. For a confirmation of whether it'll be the bike Chris Froome rides in 2021, we'll have to see if the team's climbers - such as Dan Martin and Ben Hermans - use it, or whether it remains the pure aero (read: heavier) bike for the likes of Greipel.
As shown in our recent tech gallery, many riders look to be riding new shoes from their various sponsors, so keep an eye on the feet of Shimano-sponsored riders (Jumbo-Visma), and Bontrager-wearers (Trek-Segafredo).
Will disc brakes win their first-ever Tour de France?
In a word: No.
In our predictions, rim brakes will reign supreme yet again. The three favourites to win the maillot jaune (Primoz Roglic, Egan Bernal and Tom Dumoulin) are all using rim-brake technology, so we're backing the technology to win another yellow jersey.
This doesn't necessarily mean that rim brakes are better, but when it comes to the narrow roads and high mountains, where the race is strewn across tens of kilometres of road, GC contenders can't rely on their team car to be immediately at hand for a wheel change. This is where the neutral service motorbikes provide an immediate-access wheel change. However, while the peloton is slowly adopting disc-brake technology, as far as Cyclingnews understands neutral service will only be supplying rim brake wheels.
Move aside tubulars, tubeless clinchers are here?
We've noticed that during some of the recent races, Deceuninck-QuickStep riders have been eschewing tubular tyres, but not in favour of the ever-present rise of tubeless tyres. No, they've been running clinchers, with inner tubes. That's right, inner tubes in the pro peloton.
The pro peloton has long-preferred tubular tyres due to their ability to be ridden for long distances when flat without shedding the tyre from the rim. This can not only save precious time if the team car isn't immediately available for a change but also provides the safety aspect of keeping rubber in contact with the road should a puncture happen on a descent.
Roval has since confirmed that the riders are choosing to ride the Rapide CLX, mounted with S-Works Turbo Cotton tyres and latex tubes, which apparently provides a lower rolling resistance.
Of course, that rise of tubeless road tyres will continue too. A technology taken up by some teams more than others, the traditionalists will stick to tubular, while certain teams will be happy to push the technological boundaries in a bid for those small gains on the road.
Time trial tech
With just a single time trial on the menu, a 36km course finishing atop La Planche des Belles Filles on the penultimate stage, the race won't see all that much time trial tech. However, what it lacks in quantity, we're hoping it will make up for in quality. With a course profile that resembles the housing market in the early 00's, we're hoping to see amalgamations of road and time trial technology as teams create their super-aero, mountain-climbing frankenbikes.
As ever, individualism shines bright in the WorldTour peloton, and if we don't see George Bennett in a pair of customised Shimano S-Phyre cycling shoes, we'll eat our hats - hopefully a safe bet, since he's the boyfriend of the talented shoe-painting fine-artist Caitlin Fielder.
We fully expect to see Peter Sagan using his own Sagan Collection S-Works bike, shoes and helmet, however, he'll no doubt match the green jersey - that he's probably already been given by ASO - with some limited edition green accessories.
Andre 'The Gorilla' Greipel will probably have some gorilla-based artistry adorning his bike and shoes and we expect Esteban Chaves will be wearing his Fundación Esteban Chaves custom shoes too. You may recall that at the start of the season, Ridley announced that Lotto Soudal's John Degenkolb, Philippe Gilbert, Caleb Ewan and Tim Wellens would be given the opportunity to customise their bikes throughout the season. They've not really had the chance to show this off, what with the four-month hiatus, so although Wellens has been ruled out with injury, we expect to see the others taking advantage of their artistic freedoms.
A sign of the strange times in which we find ourselves, we're also going to be on the look out for face mask customisation. We've already seen Peter Sagan and Daniel Oss wearing Joker 'why so serious' face masks, and many teams wearing sponsor correct branded masks, and we expect more of the same at the Tour.
Also, as has become customary at the Tour de France, expect to see a yellow bike to magically appear out of nowhere ahead of stage 21 to Paris.
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