Tour tech: More custom bikes, kit for the world's best riders

Katusha's Filippo Pozzato: all Italian, all the time

Italian sprinter and one-day specialist Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) earned the right to don his country's tricolore jersey when he won in Imola just a few weeks ago but in typical fashion he didn't limit the prestigious red, white and green accents to just his clothing.

First up was a commemorative wrapper for his Ridley Damocles Pi – already a custom rig with Pozzato's preferred longer and level top tube, slacker seat tube angle, and shorter head tube but whose surface is now coated in gleaming white paint with tasteful bits of green and red tossed in. It's an uncharacteristically subtle treatment for sure – in contrast to the Barza-designed schemes from his days with Liquigas – but one that still nicely gets the point across.

In addition, a boastful 'Veni, Vidi, Vici - MMIX' slogan is applied to the top tube and Elite provides a pair of red and green accented white bottle cages to match.

Pozzato is still searching for his stated goal of a stage win in this year's Tour de France but in the meantime, at least he looks good.

Perfect trifecta for Milram

Milram's Fabian Wegmann could hardly be more German at the moment: he's on a German-registered team, riding a German Focus Izalco bicycle, and he's a two-time German national champion on the road. Naturally, the team has provided him with a custom paint scheme to suit.

The changes are decidedly subtle and distinctively tasteful in execution: the standard team livery's light blue panels are traded for white, and there are smatterings of the German national colors on the top tube, seat stays, and fork blades. A bit of additional flare is provided in the all-white FSA Plasma integrated carbon bar and stem but it's otherwise the usual team issue, including a complete SRAM Red group, CarbonSports Lightweight wheels, Speedplay Zero pedals, and a fi'zi:k Arione saddle – originally the ultralight k:1 version earlier in the race but later swapped to a more padded Arione CX for the start of Stage 6.

New bikes for Boonen, Devolder plus Bastille Day specials for Chavanel, Pineau

Belgian Quick Step compatriots Tom Boonen and Stijn Devolder also get special machines of their own, though in this case it seems more a matter of bike model than paint scheme. While much of the rest of their teammates were still aboard Specialized's S-Works Tarmac SL2, Boonen and Devolder were on the company's latest SL3 – touted as being about the same weight as the earlier generation but more rigid at both ends for surer handling.

Boonen's bike also features several of his typical customized setup tricks. Team mechanics built up the diameter of the drops with short sections of garden hose split lengthwise to provide the three-time Paris-Roubaix winner with a little extra meat to grab on to, the extra-long 140mm FSA stem is slammed right atop the headset compression ring as always, and his Roval Rapide SL 45 wheels are shod with handmade FMB road tubulars. Topping it all off is his usual unbadged Selle San Marco Regal saddle.

In celebration of Bastille Day, Specialized also provided Quick Step Frenchmen Silvain Chavanel and Jérôme Pineau with custom red, white and blue rigs.

Shoes, shoes and more shoes

As is the case with the bikes, custom footwear is clearly no longer solely the realm of the cycling elite as roughly a quarter of the peloton donned some type of personalized shoes. Virtually every major brand was included as well, including (but not limited to) Sidi, Specialized, Gaerne, Bont, Diadora, and even Nike, who hasn't offered a cycling shoe to the public of any sort since their split from Trek several years ago but still manages to provide footwear for riders such as Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) and Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne).

Cadel Evans had some of the most brightly colored and easily recognizable examples with his Gaerne G.Myst signature model finished in blue, red and yellow to match his Canyon bicycle. Teammate Charlie Wegelius also got into the game with a pair of his own, only slightly more subtle in white, purple and yellow and even a clear plastic buckle mounting base that lets more of the color peek through.

In fact, we're not sure we actually saw a single pair of standard Gaerne shoes in the peloton, as other riders such as Quick Step's Matteo Tosatto and Joan Horrach of Katusha were also so equipped. Apparently facilitating the process is Gaerne's new customization process whereby shoe panels can be quickly and easily printed with unique designs prior to stitching.

In contrast, usually flamboyant Italian sprinter Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) actually toned things down for the Tour with a rather quiet looking pair of Sidi Ergo 2s finished mostly in white with just a hint of the Italian tricolore used for accents. Similarly, the Diadoras of current road world champion Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) and world time trial champion Bert Grabsch's (Columbia-HTC) Gaernes were nearly all white, too, save for a touch of rainbow. Naturally, all three riders just happened to have socks to match.

Other riders such as Michael Rogers (Columbia-HTC) and Hayden Roulston (Cervélo Test Team) went really personalized with Australian Bont shoes fully custom molded around their feet while the Rabobank team donned Shimano's flagship model with heat moldable uppers.

Lake Cycling has done the heat moldable thing longer than most though and the company has been making clear inroads into the upper ranks of the sport with several riders sporting its new CX401 model including Carlos Sastre (Cervélo Test Team). Sastre however got a bit of extra special treatment with a custom pair finished with yellow accents, his name boldly on the side, and even his signature on the sides of the uppers.

Lake also added an extra strap across the top just for Sastre though company principal Lee Katz admits it isn't really for function and won't be included in production models. According to Katz, it's merely for a more self-serving purpose: logo placement to make them more easily recognizable in the peloton.

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