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A special paint job for French Tour de France hope Thibaut Pinot

Could it be the first home win in the Tour de France since Bernard Hinault in 1985? If any Frenchman is going to do it,  Groupama–FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot is certainly in with a chance, especially after his strong showing on La Planche Des Belles Filles. Here’s a look at the bike he’s racing.

The Xeluis SL has been the team bike of choice since it was introduced in 2015. It’s a full carbon fibre frame and fork focused on providing the lightest and stiffest performance possible. New this year is this fancy black and white paint job with the French flag colours on the top tube. It’s a departure from the blue and white of the regular team bikes, what do you think of it?

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In a peloton where bikes are increasingly looking the same, the Xelius SL really stands out. Most distinctive is the interaction between the seat stays and the mainframe.  The idea is to save weight. By extending the seat stays all the way up to the top tube, less material is needed to reinforce the conventional seat stay and seat tube junction design of the previous Xelius. 

- First look at Lapierre’s new Xelius SL

The seat stays actually wrap around the seat tube, without touching it, and terminate at the top tube. There’s a hint of GT’s iconic Triple Triangle about it, but there’s well thought out engineering reasoning behind the design. 

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A full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset with matching carbon tubular wheels adorns the bike, the team is sponsored by the Japanese manufacturer. That also means PRO handlebars, stems and seatposts.

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The rim brakes - this team is firmly sticking with rim brakes - are dual pivot brakes and this is perhaps an area where the Xelius SL is showing its age. Newer bikes are switching to direct mount brakes.

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Glued to the Dura-Ace wheels are Continental Competition Pro Ltd 25mm tyres. They are probably the most popular tyre in the Tour de France peloton.

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As this sticker hopefully shows, Pinot has a 126mm stem. That’s very precise! It’s not even slammed, with a couple of spacers between it and the top cap.

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His handlebar is carbon fibre, a clear weight saving measure, and a K-Edge out front mount is used to hold his computer in place.

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Plenty of useful climbing information for Pinot to look at on the top tube if he’s ever bored in the peloton.

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Prologo sponsors the steam and we find a Nago Evo saddle with the distinctive rubber volcanoes that are designed to increase the grip between shorts and saddle to keep the rider firmly locked in place. They’re also claimed to improve comfort and increase airflow.

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His race number attaches to this small metal bracket.

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Other details to note include the chain catcher and strips of electrical tape on the Elite bottle cages. We can presume that’s to ensure a better fit for the water bottles.

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.