Faster bike or stronger legs? Ferron responds to Lafay’s Specialized aero bike comments after Dauphine win

GAP, FRANCE - JUNE 10: Valentin Ferron of France and Team Total Energies celebrates winning during the 74th Criterium du Dauphine 2022, Stage 6 a 196,4km stage from Rives to Gap 742m / #WorldTour / #Dauphiné / on June 10, 2022 in Gap, France. (Photo by Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)
Valentin Ferron of France and Team Total Energies (Image credit: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

As Valentin Ferron sat down for his press conference as stage winner at the Critérium du Dauphiné, he was asked about his emotions and his late attack, but also repeatedly about his bike. 

Cofidis’ Victor Lafay, a companion from the breakaway that went all the way to Gap on Friday, had suggested he was racing against riders on faster bikes, sparking a debate about aero bikes and who has the best equipment in the peloton.

“When we were going downhill and when we had a tailwind, we had trouble staying in the wheels of the three riders who had aero bikes,” Lafay was quoted as saying by the Sud Ouest newspaper. 

“We put our heads down as much as possible to take less wind,” he added. 

Ferron was riding a Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7, the flagship race bike of the US brand that started supplying Ferron’s TotalEnergies team on the back of Peter Sagan’s arrival for 2022. 

Specialized used to produce a dedicated aero bike, the Venge, but it was discontinued as they looked to pack its aero features into the Tarmac and create a one do-it-all bike. 

Lafay was also reportedly referring to Andrea Bagioli (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) and Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic) as the ‘aero trio’, leaving himself Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels), Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën) as the ones having to try and keep up. 

Bagioli, whose QuickStep-AlphaVinyl team are also sponsored by Specialized, was on the same model of bike, although it was interesting to note he used standard rounded handlebars, while Ferron had a more aerodynamic version. 

Barguil, meanwhile, had a choice between Canyon’s climbing and aero models, and chose the latter, the Aeroad. 

Lafay was on a Merak, the all-rounder in the De Rosa stable, even though the Italian company does have an aero model, the SK Pininfarina. Like Ferron, Lafay had an aero cockpit set-up, using a one-piece Vision Metron bar and stem. 

Asked about the supposed superiority of his bike, Ferron dutifully paid tribute to his sponsor but dismissed the comments with the same deftness as he dismissed his breakaway rivals with his race-winning attack. 

“I have a very good bike, that’s true, but also good legs,” he said. 

“I think that even with last year’s bike I’d have won today.”

Ferron’s comments shouldn’t be construed as arrogance, as he acknowledged his victory wasn’t merely down to physical superiority but rather a tactical coup. As the six-man breakaway approached the line, he sprang a surprise with 500 metres to go and slipped away for his first WorldTour win.  

“I wouldn’t say I had nothing to lose but in a sprint I knew I was beaten. I needed to anticipate,” said Ferron, who profited from the necessary hesitation behind. 

“I took my chance, and I was smiled upon today. It hasn’t been that way on other occasions. That’s cycling.

“This is huge,” the 24-year-old added. “It’s a WorldTour win, the result of a lot of hard work. This doesn’t happen often in a career, so I’m going to savour it.”

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Patrick Fletcher
Deputy Editor

Deputy Editor. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.