Colnago has invited former world champion and classics legend Tom Boonen to its Milan headquarters to test ride the manufacturer’s flagship V4Rs bike, after the retired Belgian argued that two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar is currently at a competitive disadvantage racing his sponsor’s “old-school” bike.
The iconic Italian brand has also committed itself to publicly challenging 1992 Liège–Bastogne–Liège winner Dirk De Wolf’s claim that the UAE Team Emirates star would be “another 2km/h faster” if he swapped his Colnago for Jonas Vingegaard’s Cervélo or Tom Pidcock’s Pinarello.
Boonen and De Wolf’s comments, made during an episode of the Wielerclub Wattage podcast, have understandably provoked some consternation within Colnago’s Cambiago HQ, and have prompted the company to invite the illustrious podcast guests, “at its own expense”, to ride the V4Rs frames currently used by the UAE Team Emirates and UAE Team ADQ squads.
Colnago has also asked the retired Belgian pair, following their test ride, to engage in a “public conversation” about the data used by De Wolf to come to his conclusion that the V4Rs is substantially slower than its rivals.
> Tadej Pogacar would be "another 2km/h faster" on Jumbo-Visma, Ineos or Soudal-Quick Step team bikes, says classics winner
Speaking on the podcast last week, De Wolf – who achieved several top results in one-day classics in the late 1980s and early 1990s – said: “If Tadej Pogačar gets on a bicycle from Jumbo-Visma, Ineos, or Soudal-Quick Step tomorrow, the rest will have no chance. On those bikes he will pedal another 2km/h faster.”
“[Colnago] undoubtedly have a good product there, but it is like a Ferrari and a Porsche: there is still a difference between the brands,” the 62-year-old continued.
Boonen, the joint record holder for wins at both Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, did not directly endorse his compatriot’s statement, but did argue that there is “a difference in quality” between the top bikes ridden in the pro peloton and the rest.
“With the top five manufacturers there is still little contrast, but when you compare those five with the 10 manufacturers that follow, there is still a difference in quality,” the former world champion said.
“Colnago did indeed have a dip a while ago. It remains a bit of an old-school bike now and they haven't quite mastered the aero thing yet although they are now catching up.”
> Colnago officially unveils V4Rs road bike with its ‘fastest monocoque frame ever’
In a statement released today, Colnago described Boonen’s comments as “off-the-cuff” and “unsubstantiated”, pointing to the data included in the company’s white paper for the V4Rs to rebuke the claim that the bike places Pogačar and his teammates at a disadvantage.
Colnago claims that the V4Rs – raced under the temporary ‘Prototipo’ name for much of last season – is its ‘fastest monocoque frame ever’. The brand says that the V4Rs saves the equivalent of 17.5 watts over the V3Rs at a speed of 50km/h and a rider cadence of 90rpm – though it hasn’t made any claims comparing the aero credentials with those of bikes from other manufacturers.
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“The performances of UAE Team Emirates are a highest-level priority of Colnago. Consequently, we have invested millions of euros and a lot of time in developing their bikes,” Colnago CEO Nicola Rosin said in response to Boonen and De Wolf’s comments.
“We work hand-in-hand with UAE Team Emirates and UAE Team ADQ, first to understand the demands they have for our bikes and then to ensure that what we are delivering is the absolute best available.
“We are of course in contact with the teams on a daily basis and, we have not heard a single complaint about the competitiveness of our bikes. In fact, they are ecstatic about the equipment we have provided thus far.”
Colnago says that the test ride and public discussion, if accepted by Boonen and De Wolf, will take place in the days leading up to Milan-Sanremo, the first of cycling’s monument classics, on 18 March.
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