When maximum speed is required for flat stages and sprints, an aero road bike is the weapon of choice for most riders in the Tour de France. Here are 10 that have made an appearance in this year's race.
Main photo: CorVos/SWpix.com
The new version of Canyon’s Aeroad has been on the UCI’s List of Approved Frames and Forks for a year now, but it has yet to be released officially.
Mathieu van Der Poel raced on it, then it disappeared again, and now it has reappeared in the Tour de France with Warren Barguil on board.
Details are few but one of the key features is a new front end with fully internal cable routing, bringing the Aeroad into line with most other aero road bikes out there.
Scott recently unveiled an updated version of its Foil that’s being raced for the first time by two Mitchelton-Scott riders in the Tour de France.
"The new Foil has the same well-proven lightweight and aerodynamic frame as the previous version and is still amongst the lightest aero bikes on the market, but now comes with fully integrated cable routing and a unique colour scheme," says Scott.
It comes with a new fork that takes tyres up to 30mm wide.
Caleb Ewan sprinted to victory on Stage 3 of this year’s Tour de France on a Ridley Noah Fast Disc.
The bike comes with a fork crown that integrates into the cutaway head tube to manage airflow at the front end.
Little fairings at the end of the fork that Ridley calls F-WIngs are designed to combat turbulence created by the spinning hub.
Merida’s Scultura has been the most popular choice for Bahrain-McLaren riders so far in the Tour de France, but the new Reacto is also making an appearance.
The fourth generation Reacto is a disc brake-only bike that follows the trend for a fully integrated front end; the brake hoses and shift cable are hidden inside the head tube whereas they were exposed between the handlebar and the down tube previously.
The fork crown is tucked further into the junction of the head tube and down tube than on the previous version of this bike in order to reduce drag.
The Tarmac in a roundup of aero road bikes? Although it has traditionally been the lightweight race bike in the range, Specialized says that the new version of the Tarmac is also super-aero to the point that the Venge will be available only as a frameset in 2021.
"By targeting the tubes that truly impact the aero performance of the frame, whether it's the seat tube, the seatstays, the head tube or the fork blades, all with shapes from our FreeFoil Shape Library [the collection of airfoil shapes that Specialized has developed], and then mating them with the fastest components that we have at our disposal and integrating the cabling, we created a package that is 45secs faster over 40km than the Tarmac SL6," says Cam Piper, the product manager behind the Specialized Tarmac SL7.
The brand reckons that its team riders no longer need to choose between an aero road bike and a lightweight road bike according to the terrain and conditions because the S-Works Tarmac SL7 is both. That’s why Julian Alaphilippe and Peter Sagan are riding it every day.
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Factor has had a new bike called the Ostro approved by the UCI but it hasn’t released any details publicly yet.
It has a deep down tube, aero-section seat tube and seat post, and a fork crown that’s integrated into the head tube. Naturally, there are no cables anywhere to be seen.
The Trek-Segafredo team is spending a lot of time on Trek’s Emonda, updated with aero features, but the Madone is still getting a look in.
The Madone is made with Trek’s deep Kammtail Virtual Foil aerodynamic tube shapes and an adjustable top tube IsoSpeed decoupler which allows the seat tube to flex and smooth the ride. You can see the IsoSpeed system on the underside of the top tube in this pic of Mads Pedersen and his bike.
Team CCC riders are chasing stage wins mostly on Giant’s new TRC Advanced – another lightweight bike that has been updated with aero features – but the Propel Advanced SL Disc aero road bike (foreground) is making an appearance too.
The bike features aero tube profiles throughout and an integrated seat post (the seat tube is extended and is topped by a seat mast that allows a small amount of height adjustment).
Giant claims a frame weight of 982g and a fork weight of 378g. This bike is around three years old now and we’d guess that there will be an update in the next 12 months.
Cadex, which supplies the wheels, is Giant’s in-house component brand.
Jumbo-Visma use the Bianchi Oltre XR4 for all road stages, a bike that was released way back in 2016.
“In a wind-tunnel, technicians flew fluorescent paint over the frame and fork’s surface at race speed and interpreted their trace patterns and intensity to reveal the aerodynamic performance of every aspect,” Bianchi said about the development of the bike.
The head tube is said to have been inspired by Bianchi’s Aquila time trial bike and the same goes for the fork with a crown that integrates with the frame and legs that are narrow to keep the frontal surface area low.
Jumbo-Visma riders are using rim brakes and their bikes have a new black paint job to keep the weight down. They bikes are usually fitted with a Vision Metron 5D or 6D combined handlebar/stem.
Cervelo announced the S5 Disc towards the end of 2018. The down tube has a profile shaped to reduce drag, and it is cutaway around the trailing edge of the front tyre.
The seat tube follows the shape of the rear wheel and is narrower than that of previous versions of the bike, with a slimmer seat post to go with it. All cables are internally routed
Cervelo has made the latest version of the S5 longer and lower than before in response to feedback from professional riders.
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.