If you’re having a stressful day then soothe your mind with this calming phrase. A Colnago with rim brakes and a Campagnolo Super Record groupset just won the Tour de France on a mountain time trial that was ridden on feel instead of power numbers. Ahhhhhhh... that's better.
Tadej Pogacar’s victory was certainly dramatic but racing aside, it was significant for another reason. This is the first time a Colnago rider has won the world’s biggest bike race on a bike that actually bears its name. Merckx won numerous Tour titles, but the bikes were never badged with ‘Colnago’; so for the company that many riders see as the gold-standard in frame design, Sunday was a significant day.
But it was on the Saturday that the iconic leader’s jersey was pinched from the shoulders of the rider that we all expected to wear it into Paris. Roglic faltered a little, but Pogacar was immense and it is the young Slovenian’s bike choices for that time trial that we are really interested in.
The time trial started with 30.3km of flat terrain, so a full time trial setup was needed. Pogacar has good form when racing against the clock, having won the Slovenian National Championships with Roglic in second place.
His setup here includes a modified front end, with what looks to be a WattShop custom set of extensions mounted to the Colnago base bar. These custom extensions fit the forearm more snugly than standard extensions for better airflow. They also allow for angle adjustment to help the rider get their hands closer to their face, closing that very un-aero gap.
The groupset is 11-speed Campagnolo Super Record, a relatively old design now that hasn’t adopted the 12-speed technology of the road groupset. Pogacar used a 58-tooth Bora Ultra crankset with an 11-29 cassette.
The rear disc wheel is Campagnolo’s Bora Ultra TT and only comes in tubular form. The front-wheel though is the Bora WTO 77, a tubeless-ready design which the Team UAE Emirates mechanics have set up with a Vittoria Corsa Speed tyre.
Colnago’s V3Rs road bike has been around for a few years now, and still comes in both rim-brake and disc-brake builds. Pogacar opts for the rim brake model which is slightly lighter, though both models can be built down below 7kg according to the team. They say that some of the riders opt for the rim brake model as it gives them more freedom to choose different wheel depths, while still hovering around the UCI’s 6.8kg weight limit.
The rim brakes used are direct-mount, and come as part of the Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12-speed groupset.
Pogacar made two interesting changes to his bike setup for the 5.9km ascent of the Planche des Belles Filles climb. Firstly, he used the tubular version of Vittoria’s Corsa Speed tyres, presumably to offer as little rolling resistance as possible.
Secondly, he rode the climb on ‘feel’. That is to say, he didn’t have a power meter on his bike, preferring to judge his effort as they did back in the good old days. It's also notable that he didn't even have a computer on his bars.
This move is completely understandable. Anyone that has ridden a hill climb will know how difficult it can be to ride to a set power when your vision is a bit blurry, the legs are screaming and the fans are deafening. The plan of simply going as hard as possible, or “full gas” as Pogacar said, is often the simplest way to approach such an effort.
His gearing was also rather different from what we'd normally see. Speaking to Pez Cycling, Pogacar's DS Alan Peiper confirmed that after multiple recon rides, a special cassette designed for junior racing was chosen. This 14-29 12-speed cassette gave one-tooth jumps in the 18-25 part of the cassette, allowing Pogacar the optimal gearing on the climb's steep slopes. This, according to Peiper, was combined with a 36/50 chainset, giving a far closer ratio than the standard 39/53.