2019 sees a lot of change in the WorldTour professional peloton, with more bike sponsor reshuffling than we’ve seen in many years. The peloton still consists of just 18 teams with probably the biggest change being the end of BMC Racing, replaced by the new CCC Team.
And those bike sponsor changes at a glance:
- Dimension Data switch from Cervelo to BMC
- Team Sunweb from Giant to Cervelo
- CCC Team (formerly BMC Racing) from BMC to Giant
- AG2R La Mondiale from Factor to Eddy Merckx
The rest of the teams stick with the same bikes they used in 2018, so Team Sky are still on Pinarello and Specialized and Canyon each supply two teams, and it's a welcome back to Eddy Merckx, the Belgian brand not seen in the WorldTour for a few years, but it means goodbye to Factor.
On the groupset front, Shimano continues to dominate with its Dura-Ace Di2 being the clear favourite. Campagnolo supplies three teams and there’s expectation that its new 12-speed Super Record and Record will make an appearance so of course, many observers will be worried about the implications for neutral service, despite neutral service being less relied on than in the past with riders preferring to wait for their team cars to swap wheels or bikes.
The big news though is SRAM stepping up its sponsorship by adding Trek to its existing support of Katusha. There are strong rumours of a new Red eTap groupset coming possibly this year, and it might also be 12-speed, so having two teams would certainly boost exposure of the new product as well as providing twice the feedback. Katusha have committed to only racing disc brakes this season, a decision reached by the team on its own or with a little gentle encouragement from its equipment sponsors?
And if SRAM and Campagnolo both go 12-speed in the pro peloton this year, where does that leave Shimano? The latest Dura-Ace R9100 series groupset was unveiled in June 2016, but largely unavailable until the following year, so are we likely to see an update this year? It’s next in the cycle of Shimano’s performance groupsets so watch this space I guess.
There's been a lot of “will they won’t they” about disc brakes appearing in the pro peloton up until now, but this year marks a significant turning point as Katusha Alpecin announced it will complete the entire season on disc brake race bikes. That’s according to a press release from its bike sponsor Canyon and follows the first winter training camp in Mallorca where all 24 riders were on disc-equipped Ultimate CF SLX and Aeroad CF SLX race bikes using SRAM Red eTap groupsets.
No team has made such a commitment to disc brakes before. Some teams have dabbled (Cannondale at Strade-Bianche) and there have been stage wins, most noticeably the Specialized Venge thanks to the likes of Marcel Kittel, Peter Sagan and Tom Boonen. Previously the disc brake decision has been at the discretion of individual riders, but this news marks the first time the entire squad is aiming to ride disc brakes.
Let's take a look at who is riding what in the 2019 pro peloton, but as we’ve yet to see all the new bikes we’ll update this guide over the coming weeks so tune back in for those updates.
AG2R La Mondiale
Bikes: Eddy Merckx Bikes
The French team had been riding Factor Bikes but has switched to Eddy Merckx Bikes for 2019. We’ve not seen the Merckx brand in the peloton for a few years so it’s a welcome return - it’s a long time since the bike company enjoyed much success with the Quick Step team and Tom Boonen. Will this new partnership resurrect previous winning ways?
We’ll take a more detailed look at the Eddy Merckx race bikes soon, they’ve got some updates to their flagship models lined up for this new sponsorship.
Bikes: Argon 18
Astana continues to be sponsored by Canadian bike brand Argon 18, and the Gallium Pro pictured here is its flagship race bike. This isn't your ordinary team paint job either, it's a custom painted special for Miguel “Superman” Ángel López. The team is the only outfit to use the lesser spotted Corima carbon wheelset, combined with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupsets and FSA K-Force chainsets and matching finishing kit.
This team sticks once again with Merida bikes and Shimano groupsets. Merida is one of the biggest bike companies in the world and probably doesn’t need to sponsor a pro team, but it does and likely hopes it’ll raise its profile with those customers in the market for a new race bike. It gives the team the lightweight Scultura and aero Reacto.
No huge changes here, with Peter Sagan’s team still rolling on Specialized bikes. Expect to see the disc-equipped aero Venge getting a lot of show time and winning races, while the Tarmac in a choice of rim or disc brakes will be used for hillier stages and the Roubaix for the cobbled classics. Last year Sagan switched between rim and disc brakes depending on the individual race, will he do the same again this year?
Born from the ashes of the BMC Racing team, this squad will bring a fresh new look to the peloton with its bright orange team kit. You’ll also need to get used to seeing Olympic champion Greg Van Avarmaet on a Giant bike this year complete with mostly Giant branded equipment, save for the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset. Giant, of course, has been present in the peloton for a few years and enjoyed much success (Giro d’Italia with Tom Dumoulin) and will be hoping for more victories with this new partnership.
Team Dimension Data
Groupset: Shimano with Rotor cranks
A big change for the South African team which switches from Cervelo to BMC this season so sprinter Mark Cavendish will have to swap his long-time Cervelo S5 for the Swiss company’s new Timemachine aero road bike, which is only available with disc brakes.
Will the Manx Missile take to disc brakes or will he prefer the option of rim brakes on the less aero Teammachine? He’s been spotted riding the disc-equipped Timemachine in early season training but we’ll have to wait until his first race of the season to know for sure.
The team will continue to pair Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupsets with Rotor cranks and Enve wheels
This is going to be a pressing issue for some teams and riders as many new bikes, like the Timemachine, are only available with disc brakes. But we did see Specialized cave in and produce special rim brake Roubaix bikes for Sagan and co. last season so who knows? Special bikes for the pros so they can use rim brakes?
EF Pro Cycling
Despite public sponsorship struggles, this team battles on and once again retains the backing of Cannondale who will supply the team with its first aero race bike, the brand new SystemSix which, as you know, is only available with disc brakes. It’ll also have the classic SuperSix, which we reckon must be due an update soon, and the Synapse for the classics. The new team hasn't been unveiled yet but we're pretty certain they'll stick with Dura-Ace Di2 groupsets with FSA cranks and Vision wheels. That is a 2018 bike pictured above.
The French Groupama–FDJ team continues to race Lapierre bikes this season, with the Xelius SL above the bike that most of the team will use. They'll also have the Aircode SL aero race bike for fast and flat stages. The Xelius SL is a bike that is constantly evolving, and changes this year revolve around a newly integrated seat clamp and recessed head tube that presumably improves aerodynamics and provides a lower handlebar position.
Bikes: Canyon Bikes
Katusha stays with Canyon Bikes for another year and made a big commitment a few weeks ago in announcing that the full team will race the season on disc-equipped race bikes. The disc brake rollout has been far from smooth with many high profile incidents over the years but this is the first time a top-tier team has declared its intention to only race disc brake shod bikes. Canyon has the bikes, the Aeroad and Ultimate, and SRAM has the hydraulic disc brakes. There’s strong indication that SRAM has something new up its eTap sleeve this year that might include an extra sprocket, as Campagnolo has already introduced a 12-speed road groupset.
It’s the same fleet of celeste Bianchi race bikes for the Dutch team with the Oltre XR4 the go-to model. We expect the team to also continue to use Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupsets with matching wheels.
There are no major changes for Lotto-Soudal this season. They're racing the same Ridley bikes, a choice of the aero Noah and lightweight Helium, with Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupsets and Bora Ultra wheels. It’s probably about time for a new bike or update of some sort from Ridley this year.
The Aussie team notched up its first Grand Tour victory last season and will be aiming for the top step of the podium again this season. It’ll be campaigning aboard Scott Bikes once again, with a choice of lightweight Addict or aero Foil.
Last season the new blue and black livery of the Movistar Canyon race bikes was the biggest change we had to talk about. There are no changes this year, the same Canyon frames with Campagnolo groupsets and wheels.
Other than a new headline sponsor that we had to Google (Deceuninck is a Belgian window company) the hugely victorious Quick-Step squad will continue to ride Specialized bikes. It’s got the Tarmac SL6 and Venge to choose from for most road races, and the Roubaix for cobbled classics.
No changes at Team Sky other than an updated paint job, with a bit of blue breaking up the monotony of the once all-black look of this team. It’s still largely racing the Dogma F10, being one of the few teams that really only have one model to choose whereas most other teams can choose a lightweight or aero option to suit their mood, intentions or the demands of the route. The Dogma F10 was introduced this time two years ago so it’s unlikely we’ll see a new bike this year as most brands work to a three-year cycle.
With Giant replacing BMC at the new CCC Team, Sunweb has gained the services of Cervelo. So outgoes the TCR Advanced and Propel and in comes the R5 and S5 Disc, the later an aero bike designed entirely around disc brakes. We expect the team to stick with Shimano groupsets but we’re not sure what wheels and finishing kit the team will use yet.
Bikes: Trek Bikes
The biggest change for the Trek team is that Shimano is out and SRAM is in. SRAM used to be a bigger force in the pro peloton when it launched its original Red groupset, but for the last few years has only sponsored one team (Katusha). SRAM adding another team to its roster this year could be part of its plan to promote whatever new groupset it might or might not be launching this year. Rumours suggest a 12-speed eTap but we’ll have to wait and see. Underneath the groupsets will be a choice of rim or disc brake Madone or Emonda race bikes, with the Domane for the classics.
(That's the women's team Trek bike pictured above, we don't have pics of the men's red team bikes yet).
UAE Team Emirates
Colnago rejoined the pro peloton last year with the UAE Team Emirates team, and there’s no change this season. The team will have the new C64 launched last year to race on as well as the Concept and V2-r aero bikes for the sprinters and fast finishers.
We'll update this guide as we get more pictures and details on the new bikes in the coming weeks.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.