When Julian Alaphilippe stormed into the yellow jersey with victory on Stage 2 of the Tour de France, the Deceuninck-QuickStep mechanics quickly got to work preparing his bike for the following day. A profusion of yellow was added to the Frenchman's Specialized Tarmac, including bar tape, bottle cages and a chain. When Sam Bennett subsequently sprinted his way into the green jersey, the Irishman's bike was given the same treatment.
Coloured bar tape is far from new. Yellow tape has almost become a staple sight for the Tour de France's Stage 21 procession into Paris, with the GC winner's bike invariably dressed to match. The same could be said for bottle cages, too. Coloured chain wax is a little rarer though, so we wanted to find out what it was, where it came from, and where you can get one.
We reached out to Deceuninck-QuickStep's chain sponsor for the lowdown.
"It is a UFO Racing Chain with the yellow colour added," explains Nadia Nørskov, Marketing Coordinator at CeramicSpeed.
The UFO (UltraFast Optimisation) Racing Chain is part of a collection of products from CeramicSpeed that claim to increase drivetrain efficiency and save watts. The chain itself is a typical Shimano Dura-Ace 11-speed road chain, which has an RRP of around €45 (£45 / $50). CeramicSpeed then applies an 'optimisation treatment', increasing the sale price to €139.00.
According to CeramicSpeed, this optimisation treatment is a time-consuming multi-step process that starts with polishing the links' sliding surfaces to remove roughness and manufacturing imperfections. The chain is then deep cleaned to remove the factory lubrication and contaminants, before being submerged in a proprietary blend of chain wax. To finalise the chain, a Teflon powder is applied.
Once finished, the UFO Racing Chain can be bought for €139.00 at CeramicSpeed.com
The optimisation is said to be worth between two and five watts compared to a standard chain, but the treatment will last just 600km / 370 miles in clean and dry conditions. So will be good for little more than two stages before the efficiency gains wear off.
As for the yellow and green colours spotted on the bikes of Alaphilippe and Bennett, we reached out for clarification on what it was, how it was made, and whether it would be available to the public.
"We thought this would be a funny gimmick for the Tour de France," Nørskov confirmed. "So our internal chemist, Lina from our R&D department, made a formula where the coloured Teflon powder would have the exact same benefits as the 'standard' UFO Racing Chain. We also made it in green and blue. And pink for the Giro."
Sadly, she went on to add "They are not part of our standard product range."
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