This article also appears on BikeRadar.
Chris Froome, Dan Martin and John Degenkolb have all been spotted this week in new footwear at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Degenkolb, along with some of his Giant-Alpecin teammates, have been spotted in unbranded and unseen white and black race shoes from, we suspect, Shimano. The shoes worn by Dan Martin and Chris Froome are more obviously branded new products from Mavic and Sidi respectively.
Shimano have refused to reveal any details on the shoes, or even confirm whether they made them. However, we suspect a grand reveal in the coming weeks or months from Shimano.
The shoes, seen in both black and white, have a synthetic leather upper with perforated dimples, some of which provide breathability whilst the remaining contribute to the shoes aerodynamic qualities. The upper wraps around the centre and underneath the shoe, which combined with a high gloss heel, contrasts to make a great looking shoe. On the downside, clear scuffs were already on the new shoes, which from a consumer perspective could prove to be an issue.
Two Boa dials provide the tensioning system for the shoe, the first time we have seen this ever-reliable ratchet system on a pair of Shimano shoes. The upper dial is attached to a thick, padded section of the upper material, which will provide both the stiffness required as well as the comfort. The easy twist to tighten, pop out to release mechanism can be seen on a variety of other different brands' shoes and ensures reliability and simple adjustment whilst pedalling.
With just one section of breathable mesh over the toes and the few perforated holes, there isn't as much ventilation as we would expect to provide the necessary cooling during the warmer months of the year. However, we will see how the final products are unveiled in the coming months.
The anonymity of manufacturer stops with Degenkolb's footwear. Froome's electric blue Sidi, with black, white and red detailing, are loud and proud. The volume has been turned up and it is not just the design, which impresses with Froome's latest pair of Sidi.
A central cable tensioning ratchet, this time an in-house design from Sidi, draws parallels with Pearl Izumi's PRO Leader shoes. Sidi's in house ratchet system has a red button in the centre of the dial to release the tension in the cable and small handle which can lay flush with the dials and hinge up for ease of use.
Unlike the shoes seen at Giant-Alpecin, ventilation shouldn't be a problem for Chris Froome. With mesh sections on both sides of the shoe from the toe to the shoe opening and plenty of perforated holes along the way, any chance of overheating has been considered. A thin tongue, cut ergonomically, provides the comfort and snug fit one expects from Sidi.
Martin's Mavic SSC are perhaps, the most interesting of the shoes we've spotted at the Dauphiné. With what seems a one-piece inner of breathable foam and mesh, complete with loops on the tongue and heel to ensure a proper fit, the SSC are then wrapped in a combination of one piece carbon and synthetic and secured with a Mavic ‘Ergo Dial'.
Similarly to the Sidi, Mavic's in house dial is a circular ratchet system, which tightens in a clockwise and loosens in an anti-clockwise fashion. The classic Mavic Yellow flash on the centre of the shoe, toe and heel, is the only non-black part of the shoe and they are certainly striking.
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The concept of single piece carbon shoes have been seen recently in track cycling and this is perhaps where Mavic draw their inspiration. The synthetic section on the inner side of the shoe is considered, offering protection from any scratches from the crank arms. With what seems like superb breathability these shoes look unlikely to get hot. The lack of outer body makes us wonder whether any performance in stiffness is affected, but they certainly look the business.
We can only speculate on price and performance for each of these shoes, but we can be sure that we can't wait to get our hands on them for a proper test.