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Tadej Pogacar would be "another 2km/h faster" on Jumbo-Visma, Ineos or Soudal-Quick Step team bikes, says classics winner

Dirk De Wolf says riding a Colnago is holding Pogacar back while Tom Boonen believes there's “a difference in quality” between the top bikes ridden in the pro peloton and the rest

Two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar would ride 2km/h faster if he swapped his Colnago for a bike from another big pro team, says former Belgian pro Dirk De Wolf, winner of Liège–Bastogne–Liège back in 1992. While not directly endorsing that statement, former world champion and multi-time classics winner Tom Boonen says that there is “a difference in quality” between the top bikes ridden in the pro peloton and the rest.

All of this information comes from the Wielerclub Wattage podcast… but it’s in Dutch. 

Dirk De Wolf is quoted by Belgian broadcaster Sporza as saying, “If Tadej Pogacar 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.”

2023 Colnago V4Rs - 6.jpeg

Slovenian Pogacar and his UAE Team Emirates squad race on Colnago bikes while Jumbo-Visma use Cervelo, Ineos ride Pinarello, and Soudal-Quick Step are on Specialized.

“[Colnago] undoubtedly have a good product there, but it is like a Ferrari and a Porsche: there is still a difference between the brands,” says De Wolf.

The basis upon which De Wolf makes this assessment is unclear. As for the 2km/h figure, well, maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole creeping into the conversation. The 2022 Tour de France, for example, was ridden at an average speed of 42km/h. An extra 2km/h would make Pogacar nearly 5% better than everyone else. That said, Filippo Ganna rode the opening time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico 2023 2km/h faster than anyone else yesterday, so who knows?

2023 Colnago V4Rs - 5.jpeg

Tom Boonen says, “With the top 5 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.

“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.”

Ernesto Colnago sold a majority share of the Colnago brand to Abu Dhabi-based Chimera Investments back in 2020 and there have been several big launches since then, notably the V4Rs.

> Iconic Italian bike business Colnago sold to UAE-based investment firm

2023 Colnago V4Rs - 3 (1).jpeg

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, but it hasn’t made claims comparing the aero credentials with those of bikes from other manufacturers.

> Colnago officially unveils V4Rs road bike with its ‘fastest monocoque frame ever’ 

Interestingly, comments made on the Wielerclub Wattage podcast about the advantages different bikes can offer come just days after France 24 ran a story suggesting some riders and team managers believe that tech is turning cycle racing into Formula 1.

> Have bike tech wars turned cycling into Formula 1? Some pros think so, plus more tech news from Shimano, Zwift, Le Col, Dahon, Fairlight + more

Anthony Perez, who rides for Cofidis, was quoted by France 24 as saying, ”Before, [riders] all had almost the same bikes. Today, there are big differences.

“The frame, the wheels, the tyres... add everything up and you go from a tradesman’s two-wheeler to a rocket. Cycling has become like Formula 1.”

What do you think of the comments made by Dirk De Wolf and Tom Boonen? Do they sound plausible?

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

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19 comments

Avatar
nortonp | 1 year ago
0 likes

If it's true for Pogacar, it's true for any rider. So do a test with a few decent club riders and write an article on the results.

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Simon E replied to nortonp | 1 year ago
5 likes

nortonp wrote:

If it's true for Pogacar, it's true for any rider. So do a test with a few decent club riders and write an article on the results.

It only requires a single rider. People like Aerocoach, Wattshop (Dan Bigham) and others have been doing real-world aero testing as well as wind tunnel testing for years. They can already quantify the improvements made with individual changes such as aero handlebars, clothing fabric choice and so on. From what I've read the bike frame itself is one of the least significant components but manufacturers have to sell their new bike somehow.

There's also the fact that, apart from the solo TT, individual riders - especially team leaders - do not spend a huge amount of time riding in the wind. When climbing (where Grand Tours are usually won) the lower speed significantly reduces the benefit of any aero gains.

This oft-repeated stuff about cycling being like F1 is utter claptrap. The sooner people stop pretending it is even remotely similar the better. While there's a lot more money in the top level of the pro cycling than 15-20 years ago (and hopefully a lot less doping) and teams are looking beyond the sport for ideas, using new materials etc but in the end this is an aerobic fitness sport. F1 seems to be much more of a technical exercise where driver ability has been eclipsed by ever more powerful engines while swarms of technicians can change all manner of things in pursuit of microscopic differences that can supposedly win or lose a race. Pidcock did not win Strade Bianche because of the shaping of his seat tube and Van Baarle did not take Omloop due to the type of carbon or the shape or "combination of stiffness and vertical compliance" of his Cervelo.

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festina replied to Simon E | 1 year ago
2 likes

I concur.  With at least 70% of drag coming from the rider the other 30% will be split over all bike components, those being at the leading edge having the most significance.  As for pro riders I'm sure that a large part is the psycology of believing your bike is faster, like a placebo effect.

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wickedstealthy replied to Simon E | 1 year ago
2 likes

Indeed completely agree. Utter bullshit. You find some online calculators to see what 2km/h really mean. I would require 60watt gain. The gains in the v4rs where mostly coming from the handlebar and the wheels. Most manufacturers now talk about total efficiency and that is basically saying that the frame difference is hardly noticeable anymore 😂

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ubercurmudgeon | 1 year ago
0 likes

Sounds like Mr. De Wolf was once refused a warranty claim on a Colnago, and got into a massive argument with his local Colnago stockist about it. Maybe he even caught the shop owner in bed with his wife. Or someone riding a Colnago ran over his cat.

See, anyone can wildly speculate with no evidence. It's a lot of fun. Not sure it's worth reporting on though.

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Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
2 likes

It always amazes me how so many people passionately believe that there are significant differences in performance between bike brands, models, wheels and componentry, right up to the point where that viewpoint negatively affects them.

For instance, I know people who will band on about how x wheel is 20w faster, the frame 30% quicker etc. etc. however, when they drop you when on their race bike, whilst you're on your winter hack, its only ever about their performance, never about the 50watt saving they'd spent the previous two hours telling you about. 

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xernobyl replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
0 likes

For regular people I'm sure the difference is smaller than having a better breakfast, or a bad week at work, but for pro riders doing thousands of kms in 3 weeks, a slightly better bike can make those few seconds that sometimes separates the 4th place from the 3rd.

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Rendel Harris replied to xernobyl | 1 year ago
1 like

xernobyl wrote:

for pro riders doing thousands of kms in 3 weeks, a slightly better bike can make those few seconds that sometimes separates the 4th place from the 3rd.

Theoretically, yes it can. In practice good strategy, fuelling and just plain luck make those few seconds redundant. Pogacar is the perfect example, according to De Wolf he'd be 2km per hour quicker if he wasn't on Colnago (so logically in his 2021 82 hour victory if he'd had another bike he should have ended up 160kms or about four hours ahead of the field) but he won in  '20 and '21 and lost in 2022 because he messed up his fuelling on the Granon, nothing to do with being on a Colnago. I really don't believe any rider has lost/won the Tour due to having better/worse equipment since Fignon lost to Lemond in 1989.

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Dan Jestico | 1 year ago
2 likes

Would be interesting to know who Boonen rates as the 'top 5 manufacturers'.

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ChuckSneed | 1 year ago
2 likes

Pogacar is fast because he is doped up to the eyeballs like everyone else in cycling, but it is especially bad for the state sponsored teams and always has been

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Veloism replied to ChuckSneed | 1 year ago
7 likes

Insightful trollness as ever. Facts and sources?

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superfly_nz replied to ChuckSneed | 1 year ago
1 like

"Doped up to the eyeballs like everyone else". Wow, great comment. So I guess that makes him on par with everyone else in your opinion? Is it the bike then, or just his dope is better? Or... you don't actually know.

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EM69 | 1 year ago
3 likes

Tadej Pogacar would be fast on any bike.

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Miller | 1 year ago
2 likes

Am also very sceptical of the De Wolf comments, sounds like someone is believing marketing BS. However, as soon as this afternoon we will see how Pogi & friends stack up against Jumbo Visma in the Paris-Nice weird team time trial.

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Miller replied to Miller | 1 year ago
0 likes

JV feat. JV won the TTT today but considering how stacked with TT talent their team is, perhaps not by the extent they hoped. UAE on their ropey old Colnagos did ok.

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ChuckSneed | 1 year ago
5 likes

He'd be even faster again if he rode with rim brakes. But sponsors don't allow that because money money money money money

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xernobyl replied to ChuckSneed | 1 year ago
1 like

According to Peak Torque's (youtube) somewhat credible and reliable tests, there's no measurable difference between both types of brakes.

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galibiervelo | 1 year ago
3 likes

All data presented are marketing claims unless independently tested, and only then should the results be used to sell the product.

A quick google will show that BMCare claiming:  BMC x Red Bull prototype Speedmachine is “World's Fastest Race Bike”

Pinarello announces Bolide F as “fastest bike ever”

"The 2022 Canyon Aeroad: The world's fastest bike"

Ribble put a question implying "fastest road bike in the world?" but then let themselves down "This is the 'world's most aerodynamically advanced road bike"

 Giant launches “fastest ever” Propel aero road bike range

Giant are good that they take care with the verb... "Giant launches “ their fastest ever” Propel aero road bike range"

and trek are good and honest " This is fastest bike Trek has ever made" and Bianchi say  of its Bianchi Oltre RC: created one of the fastest bikes ever. Fully permitted marketing statment.

 

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NikoD replied to galibiervelo | 1 year ago
1 like

Very true.  But no different to just about all other goods and services marketing.
That being said, by the laws of physics there is inevitably going to be differences in any paticular circumstances, so the argument here that some teams have a performance advantage over others because of equipment will be true.  It is just a matter of measuring it in a scientific way, rather than an ex-pro's anecdotal assertion.  I still like hearing ex-pro's views though (for better or worse).

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