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BikeRadar’s favourite Tour de France bikes | Cool bikes in Tour history

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BikeRadar’s favorite Tour de France bikes | Cool bikes in Tour historical past

The Tour de France is the top of the game, not only for riders vying for the yellow jerseys however producers placing their wares in entrance of an viewers of hundreds of thousands.

In truth, we love the Tour nearly as a lot for its tech as we do for the exploits of riders on the street.

Right here the BikeRadar staff shares its favorite Tour de France bikes from years passed by – machines that paved the way in which for future Tour tech or, fairly merely, seemed rattling cool.

Our decisions concentrate on the fashionable period as a result of that’s the place we’ve seen most of the improvements that characterise at the moment’s bikes (or they’re bikes we’ve first-hand recollections of).

What’s your favorite Tour de France bike? Tell us within the feedback on the backside of the article.

Greg LeMond’s 1989 Bottecchia with aero bars

George Scott | Editor

Greg LeMond at the 1989 Tour de France

Greg LeMond used aero bars on the ultimate stage time trial of the 1989 Tour de France to overturn Laurent Fignon’s benefit and seal a second yellow jersey.
AFP through Getty Pictures

To explain a tech second as game-changing is maybe a cliché however Greg Lemond’s gear decisions on the 1989 race undoubtedly began a brand new period for Tour de France tech.

LeMond’s resolution to make use of aero bars – a primary on the Tour de France – within the race’s two time trials not solely introduced aerodynamics to the fore in skilled biking, however successfully received him the race.

Having received the primary time trial within the race, the American famously overturned Laurent Fignon’s 50-second benefit on the ultimate stage – one other race towards the clock – to take the title by eight seconds.

LeMond rode a metal Bottecchia on the Champs-Élysées course, hunkered down on its U-shaped bar (besides when sprinting out of the saddle) to cheat the wind and safe the second of three Tour de France wins.

Whereas at the moment’s time trial bikes are a far cry from LeMond’s Bottecchia, aerodynamics now affect nearly each gear selection within the professional peloton, from frames and elements, to clothes and helmets.

Chris Boardman’s 1994 Lotus 110

Simon Bromley | Technical author

Chris Boardman's 1996 Lotus Sport 110

The Lotus 110 was an evolution of the novel Lotus 108 monitor bike. Not like the 108, the 110 was designed for street use and has mounts for brakes and derailleurs, although it is also utilized in a hard and fast gear setup as seen right here.
James Huang/Quick Media

Maybe probably the most iconic time trial bike within the historical past of street biking, Chris Boardman’s Lotus 110 nonetheless has the facility to wow.

A street model of Boardman’s well-known Lotus 108 monitor bike, the 110’s carbon monocoque frameset was so superior that you could possibly drop it into at the moment’s Tour and it will nonetheless seem like one thing loopy from the longer term.

The one difficulty could be that at the moment’s chunky wheels and tyres wouldn’t slot in it.

After all, a part of what makes it so iconic – particularly to us Brits – is that Boardman used it to take the yellow jersey by annihilating the sector within the prologue time trial on the 1994 Tour de France.

Protecting the 7.2km distance at a document common velocity of 55.152kph (which stood till 2015), Boardman even caught his minute man, Luc Leblanc – who, deliciously, had beforehand belittled Boardman’s 1993 hour document.

A plethora of daring designs spawned in response to the efforts of Lotus, Boardman, Graeme Obree and the like, till the UCI introduced the Lugano Charter in 2000 and spoiled the get together.

However, on this author’s opinion, the Lotus 110 stays probably the most elegant and iconic bike of that period.

Mario Cipollini’s 1999 Cannondale CAAD4

Warren Rossiter | Senior technical editor

Mario Cipollini at the 1999 Tour de France

Mario Cipollini received 4 back-to-back phases on the 1999 Tour de France.
Tim De Waele

The Saeco-era Cannondales, with their vibrant tomato purple livery and yellow graphics, have been iconic in their very own proper, however for the ’99 Tour Mario Cipollini had a {custom} white and gold version, on which he set data with 4 back-to-back stage wins.

In anticipation of Cipo’s success, Cannondale even supplied mitts with the corporate’s brand emblazoned on the palm, so no-one would neglect what bike he was using when Mario held his arms aloft.

The explanation for the brand new color? To have a good time Julius Caesar’s birthday (12 July) – Mario even dressed because the Roman emperor, replete with toga and a golden laurel wreath on his head, throughout the race and the staff wore a restricted version white and gold package on stage 9.

The bike was Cannondale’s personal mix of aluminium (primarily based on 6061 T6) for the CAAD4 and it ran on Campagnolo’s 9-speed Report titanium groupset.

The Magic Bike cranks (branded CODA) are the precursor to Cannondale’s superlight SiSL2 cranks of at the moment, and Mario ran Stronglight chainrings in an enormous 53/42t pairing.

Upfront, there was a Cinelli Integralter one-piece bar and stem.

Mario Cipollini dressed as Julius Caesar

Tremendous Mario dressed up as Julius Caesar throughout the race.
Doug Pensinger

The Cannondale Saeco staff used wheels from each Spinergy and Mavic on the time and, for this bike, Mario selected first-generation Mavic Cosmic Carbone tubulars.

Tremendous Mario rode this bike for the primary seven phases, successful 4 within the course of (and posting the then-fastest ever Tour stage within the course of) forward of the person time trial. Mario stop the race and headed for the seashore when the mountains arrived on stage 9.

Other than what was a surprising bike, I believe this CAAD4 reveals what the fashionable Tour has been lacking: correct personalities, theatre to match the drama of racing and correct special-edition bikes for publicity and grabbing headlines.

Cipollini wasn’t only a masterful sprinter, he was the final word showman and this bike matched his showmanship.

Lance Armstrong’s unique Trek Madone

Matthew Loveridge | Senior author

Lance Armstrong's Trek at the 2004 Criterium du Dauphine

A Trek in U.S. Postal Service colors – an icon of professional biking, for higher or worse.
Tim De Waele/Getty Pictures

Following on from the Trek 5000-series that Lance Armstrong took his (heavily-asterisked) first Tour victories on, the Madone is arguably probably the most well-known bike of the final twenty years.

It’d be a stretch to name it my favorite Tour bike, however I don’t assume there’s a machine that epitomises mid-2000s professional biking higher than a Trek in U.S. Postal Service colors.

The unique Madone 5.9 debuted on the 2003 Tour and it was extra of a refinement of its predecessor, the 5900, than an all-new bike.

It was named for the Col de la Madone in France – not a climb utilized in races, however slightly one which Armstrong favoured to check his type.

In comparison with at the moment’s bikes, and even the extra curvaceous second-gen Madone that adopted, the OG bike is comparatively conventional trying, with a horizontal high tube and exterior headset.

Trek with Shimano Dura-Ace 7800 chainset

Armstrong’s bike sports activities a brand-new Shimano Dura-Ace 7800 chainset. Simply have a look at that polished end!
Tim de Waele/Getty Pictures

On the similar time, it’s sporting Bontrager carbon tubular wheels (albeit super-skinny, low-profile ones) after which brand-new Shimano Dura-Ace 7800 elements.

The eagle-eyed will observe that this isn’t really Armstrong’s Tour bike, it’s one arrange for a mountain time trial within the 2004 Critérium du Dauphiné, therefore the aero bars.

For those who look actually intently, there’s additionally a weight-shaving down tube shifter for the entrance derailleur – a favorite Lance mod should you imagine the lore.

For such a light-weight bike, it’s one with lots of baggage…

Frank Schleck’s 2006 Cervélo Soloist SL-C SL

Warren Rossiter | Senior technical editor

Frank Schleck's Cervelo Soloist at the 2006 Tour de France

An aero bike on Alpe d’Huez? You wager!
Tim de Waele/Getty Pictures

Okay, I’m dishonest right here with two entries however Cervélo mainly invented the aero-road bike so, in addition to Mario Cipollini’s Cannondale CAAD4, I’m nominating Frank Schleck’s 2006 Soloist SL-C SL.

Certain, manufacturers like Cinelli had the Laser a lot earlier however that was aero-styled slightly than scientifically engineered to be aerodynamic.

Within the aluminium period, aero tubes have been extra like spherical tubes ‘squashed’ into an aero form. Cervélo, with the unique Soloist, used NACA profiles to outline the form, and when it got here to carbon, the Canadian model tailored the Soloist design brilliantly.

By the point Workforce CSC and Frank Schleck acquired to experience the SL-C SL, Cervélo had managed to extract greater than 200g from the usual SL-C (when we tested the frame back in 2007 it weighed a still-impressive 994g in a 58cm).

That made it not solely probably the most aerodynamic bike within the 2006 Tour, but in addition one of many lightest (it tipped the scales at 6.9kg full, simply 100g over the UCI restrict).

On stage 15, Schleck and his Soloist went head-to-head with Danielo Cunego by the 21 hairpins of Alpe d’Huez. When Schleck attacked 3km from the end I’d prefer to assume that the added aero of the Soloist gave him the sting, particularly when he may have chosen the lighter Cervélo R3 for the mountain phases.

The Workforce CSC bikes used Shimano Dura-Ace with FSA Okay-Power chainsets, together with FSA bars and stems, Zipp aero wheels and True Mood’s Alpha Q fork. Bear in mind when bikes used forks that weren’t particular to the body?

Vincenzo Nibali’s 2016 S-Works Tarmac

Jack Luke | Assistant editor

Vincenzo Nibali's Specialized Tarmac SL5 from the 2016 Tour de France

The place have all of the cool {custom} paintjobs gone?
Tim de Waele/Getty Pictures

In a time dominated by dropped seatstays, aero-formed every little thing and complete integration, I discover myself bored mindless by the homogeneity of recent street bike design.

That final level might be the important thing wrongdoer for the outstanding sameness of professional bikes nowadays – in-house brands and proprietary components tie riders and groups to a really slim choice of elements, leaving little room for quirky customisation.

Seemingly hodge-podge builds largely died off with the tip of the standard triple triangle period and, as knowledgeable bicycle tech nerd, I mourn the lack of this time.

For me, the Specialised Tarmac SL5 defines the latter a part of that period and, specifically, I fondly bear in mind Vincenzo Nibali’s 2016 Tour de France bike.

A full gallery of this bike was printed simply earlier than I began working at BikeRadar – a time once I was studiously studying every little thing printed on the positioning, incomes it a particular place in my coronary heart.

With a mad kinda-naff-kinda-cool paint job, a full Campagnolo Tremendous Report (mechanical!) 11-speed groupset, Corima S+ wheels and dreadful custom-painted FSA ending package, the bike is completely not like something we’d see at the moment, and only a few years later.

RIP, bizarre bikes of the Tour de France.


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