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Tour tech 2011: Specialized show top riders' custom-colour shoes for Tour de France

S-Works shoes and helmets get the Tour de France treatment

Specialized have shown off new pro rider-inspired colour schemes for their top S-Works Road Shoe for the Tour de France, and they’re ready with Prevail helmets to match the leaders’ jerseys if any of their sponsored athletes win them over the course of the race.

We had a quick look at the new kit at Team Astana’s hotel when we headed out to France ahead of tomorrow’s race start. The shoes come in an Alberto Contador version, an Alexandra Vinokourov version and a Roman Kreuziger model too.

If any of the Specialized-sponsored riders get into the yellow jersey during the race, they get little yellow dials for the shoes’ Boa lace system. There are two Boa dials per shoe allowing the tension at the top and bottom of the closure to be set independently. They're excellent shoes, by the way – as you'll find out if you read our review from last year.

The S-Works Prevail helmet is Specialized’s top road lid, coming with two different densities of EPS foam and a shed-load of air-cooling. The teams have models in race-leader yellow, points-leader green, and King of the Mountains polka dots for any of their riders who take the relevant jersey. It’s all about the co-ordination. There's no point being fast if you don't look cool.

Continuing the helmet theme, Specialized have given their TT helmet a new integrated visor so the riders don't need to bother with anything as aerodynamically inefficient as a pair of shades. This is the Sungard version, clearly, but all the teams who use Spesh helmets will be getting them for the team and individual time trials.

Final thing for now... Are you familiar with the concept of podium shoes? Even if you're not, the name is kind of self explanatory. Shoe manufacturers want their sponosored athletes to wear their branded footwear when they head up to the podium to collect their medals, flowers, jerseys, kisses and all that stuff. It's a big opportunity to get loads of exposure. But totter up the steps on your cleats and you stand a good chance of coming down arse over... elbow, undoing all that good publicity you've just won. Hence, podium shoes: they look like cycling shoes, they're actually daps. Clever!

There's a trend, though, for podium shoes to be worn when there's not a podium in sight. Yes, if you work for Specialized or Mavic or whoever: fine, it makes sense. We're just a bit concerned they're starting to leak out into general use and, to be honest, it concerns us greatly.

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 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 over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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