Ahead of the 2014 Tour de France, Specialized where confident of success on the road and in the mountains with Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) only for both riders to crash out of the race.
However Astana's Vincenzo Nibali claimed the overall victory on board a Specialized Tarmac and in doing so became just the sixth rider to have won all three grand tours — the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.
Specialized has had a partnership with car manufacturer McLaren since 2010 and the two companies once again teamed up to produce another innovative frame. The result? The Specialized McLaren S-Works Tarmac which was revealed just days ahead of the Tour.
Eric Shuda, performance manager at Specialized, explained to inCycle how the bike was developed.
"Our engineers work very closely with the riders to gather feedback, gain insights and constantly work on product improvement, specifically on the Tarmac," Shuda said.
"We worked very closely with riders like Alberto Contador and he's constantly giving us feedback,. Some of the feedback he's given us from the Tarmac SL4, in his 54cm size, was that it felt very harsh on the descents and a little too stiff on the front end or through choppy corners or rough roads.
"At the same time, we had larger riders saying that they thought the bike could use a bit more snap to it, a bit more precise steering feeling and that sparked an idea of rider first engineered and looking at the frames on a size-by-size basis."
Each of the three-Specialized teams at the Tour was given one of the limited edition bikes for the Tour with Nico Roche the lucky Tinkoff-Saxo rider.
"I definitely love the way it steers and when you’re on a descent, it's super precise," Roche said of his bike.
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