Two-time World Champion Julian Alaphilippe has a Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 with a new paint job for the new season, and it's subtle, to say the least. The bike also has some wheels that suggest Specialized has decided that tubeless is back for the road in 2022.
Specialized says that Alaphilippe collaborated with its designers to create the new finish, although we're never quite sure how much input the rider ever really has in these situations.
"With beautiful details and subtle patterns, his classic Tarmac SL7 cuts a stunning profile honouring the heritage and traditional white field and rainbow stripes cycling world champions have worn since 1927," says Specialized.
The stripes feature on the back of the seat tube, facing the leading edge of the rear wheel, so they're not exactly prominent (that number 1 on the back of the seat tube is because each rider has various bikes for racing and training; they're numbered so that they're easy to tell apart).
Beyond that, the stripes are visible only on the top tube, just behind the headset, along with Alaphilippe's name and the years and locations of his Road Race World Championship victories.
Although it looks plain white from a distance, the rest of the frame is patterned. It's very subdued – almost white on a white background – compared with finishes that have graced Alaphilippe's bikes in the past.
Alaphilippe, who rides for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl (the team having changed names just after we'd all learnt to spell Deceuninck), uses a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset – and this is new Shimano Dura-Ace R9200.
This bike is built up with a Shimano Dura-Ace FC-R9200-P power meter, with 54/40-tooth chainrings. The Frenchman uses 172.5mm cranks.
The wheelset comes from Roval, a company that's owned by Specialized but run independently. When we reviewed the Alpinist CLX wheels, we said that they were brilliant on the climbs with excellent handling. We weighed them at 1,250g in total.
The Specialized S-Works tyres don't have a model name printed on them, which is unusual, possibly meaning that these are yet to be released.
Something else unusual is that it looks like these wheels are fitted with tubeless valves. When they were launched in 2020, the Alpinist CLX wheels were designed for tube-type tyres only. Does this mean that the Roval Alpinist CLX is on the way for use with tubeless tyres? We'd say that's a distinct possibility.
Alaphilippe goes for a round-profile Pro Vibe handlebar rather than an aero option, wrapped in what looks like Specialized Supacaz tape.
The saddle is a Specialized S-Works Romin EVO with a carbon fibre shell and oversized carbon rails.
The Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 will be available in this limited edition finish, although we don't yet have details.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.