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New Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 spotted in Belgium

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The down tube is nearly the same diameter as a water bottle

The down tube is nearly the same diameter as a water bottle
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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The top tube and down tube once again 'wrap around' the tapered head tube for additional front-end stiffness. It's unclear exactly what diameter is used for the base of the steerer tube but Specialized is apparently sticking with traditional front and rear brake calipers

The top tube and down tube once again 'wrap around' the tapered head tube for additional front-end stiffness. It's unclear exactly what diameter is used for the base of the steerer tube but Specialized is apparently sticking with traditional front and rear brake calipers
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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The top tube is again slightly curved although seemingly more subtly than before

The top tube is again slightly curved although seemingly more subtly than before
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Cables are internally routed, and presumably convertible between mechanical and electronic drivetrains. Bottom bracket bearings appear to be pressed directly into the shell

Cables are internally routed, and presumably convertible between mechanical and electronic drivetrains. Bottom bracket bearings appear to be pressed directly into the shell
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Huge tube diameters and rounded shapes are the defining characteristics of the new Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5

Huge tube diameters and rounded shapes are the defining characteristics of the new Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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One of the key distinguising features on the new Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 is the hidden seatpost binder. The seat stays also have a bit more of a curved shape up top as opposed to the current SL4's straighter path

One of the key distinguising features on the new Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 is the hidden seatpost binder. The seat stays also have a bit more of a curved shape up top as opposed to the current SL4's straighter path
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Visually, the new Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 is clearly an evolution of the current SL4

Visually, the new Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 is clearly an evolution of the current SL4
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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A removable stop for the rear brake housing should make it a little easier to feed the cable through

A removable stop for the rear brake housing should make it a little easier to feed the cable through
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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The seat stays taper down as they approach the seat tube, then flow smoothly into the top tube shape

The seat stays taper down as they approach the seat tube, then flow smoothly into the top tube shape
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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As opposed to the current Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4's slightly more rectangular chain stays, the new SL5 looks to have a more rounded form. There's also a gentler transition to the seat stays and a more linear path for the internally routed rear derailleur cable, too

As opposed to the current Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4's slightly more rectangular chain stays, the new SL5 looks to have a more rounded form. There's also a gentler transition to the seat stays and a more linear path for the internally routed rear derailleur cable, too
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) not only raced at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on a new Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 but he had a spare one atop the team car, too

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) not only raced at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on a new Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 but he had a spare one atop the team car, too
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Just as on the current Tarmac, the down tube on the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 is absolutely huge. This time around, the flare at the head tube appears even more pronounced

Just as on the current Tarmac, the down tube on the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 is absolutely huge. This time around, the flare at the head tube appears even more pronounced
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Differences between the new Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 and the current SL4 model shown here are subtle, but still noticeable

Differences between the new Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 and the current SL4 model shown here are subtle, but still noticeable
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Spotted at Liège-Bastogne-Liège was Specialized's new S-Works Tarmac SL5, which we've heard will officially debut in a week or so

Spotted at Liège-Bastogne-Liège was Specialized's new S-Works Tarmac SL5, which we've heard will officially debut in a week or so
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)

Last weekend's Liège-Bastogne-Liège not only delivered a thrilling race finale but also the public debut of the upcoming Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 under Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). Official details will have to wait until the bike's expected official unveiling later next week but Cyclingnews editor-in-chief Daniel Benson was conveniently on site to snap a bunch of pictures for all of us to digest in the meantime.

The new Tarmac SL5 is a clear evolution of the current SL4 with much of the same design methodology and a very similar look overall. The monstrous down tube and wide top tube both partially wrap around the hourglass-profile tapered head tube, the seat tube morphs from round up top to rectangular down below, and there's once again an oversized bottom bracket shell.

The chain stays are huge once again but appear to have a more rounded profile than before, however, while the seat stays now have a slight curve just before melding into the top tube. Specialized is apparently sticking with a 68mm-wide bottom bracket shell but the bearings look to be pressed directly into the shell.

Up top, there's now a hidden binder bolt for the seatpost and naturally, the cable routing is internal throughout (and presumably convertible between mechanical and electronic transmissions).

Overall, we don't anticipate much improvement from the Tarmac SL4 in terms of absolute stiffness but it's a safe bet that the SL5 is a touch lighter. We're also expecting a boost in ride comfort, too.

Specialized wouldn't even officially confirm the bike's name but did at least admit that it was something new.

"We're always working with athletes on testing," said team liaison Scott Jackson. "Some things make it into production, some don't. That bike does look different, yes. Unfortunately we can't say anything about it right now. You may or may not see it at the other teams that we sponsor."