Gallery: The best tech spotted at the 2023 Tour de France

There were custom components and prototype bikes at the Grand Départ in Bilbao

Tour de France tech insights collage including Tadej Pogacar's bike
(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

The Tour de France - the biggest, most famous bike race of all - is an event fought more and more on marginal gains. 

At this year's Grand Départ, the 22 participating teams parked up by Bilbao's San Mamés stadium, and readied their equipment under cloudy Basque skies. There, armed with a camera and a curious mind, Cycling Weekly went hunting for the latest tech. And we weren't disappointed. 

Here are some of the most exciting tech insights we spotted in the team paddock, including Tadej Pogačar's lightweight carbon upgrades, Jonas Vingegaard's 1x set-up, and a prototype BMC Teammachine. 

Tadej Pogačar goes lightweight

Tadej Pogacar's 2023 tour de france colnago bike

(Image credit: Josh Croxton / Future)

Two-time race winner Pogačar is back with a vengeance at the Tour de France, having missed out on a third yellow jersey last time round. 

With over 56,000m elevation in this year's edition, the UAE Team Emirates rider has prioritised saving weight. His bike is rigged up with lightweight Carbon TI X-Rotor discs, a Carbon TI chainring and bottle cages made from, yes, you guessed it, carbon fibre.

Tadej pogacar's carbon disc brake

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

Tadej Pogacar's carbon front chainring

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

Tadej pogacar's carbon bottle cages

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

Pogačar is riding this year's race despite still feeling the effects of a broken wrist, suffered at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April. 

To offer him extra comfort on the bike, handlebar brand ENVE has developed a custom, extra stiff SES Aero One-Piece bar for the Slovenian national champion. The project began in January, and took over four months to complete. 

Tadej pogacar's custom ENVE handlebars

The tyres on Pogačar's bike are 28mm, but are set on wide rims, so blow out larger. 

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

ENVE also 3D-printed top bearing covers for the UAE Team Emirates riders. A contact at the company told Cycling Weekly that the new component gives "greater compatibility with the IN-Route internal cable system" on the Colnago V4Rs.

ENVE's 3D-printed bearing coverings

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

One final quirky thing about Pogačar's bike is this little sticker he has on his race number. 

If you're wondering what the '9' symbolises, it's the number of stages he has won at the Tour. In fact, every rider who has won a stage of the race gets a special sticker.

Tadej Pogacar's race number with a sticker of the number 9

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

Are TT tyres the norm? 

Marc Soler's GP 5000 TT tyre

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

UAE Team Emirates were one of a number of teams running Continental Grand Prix 5000 TT tyres on stage one. The brand's website says the tyres offer "maximum speed" and "minimum weight", so they lend well to road races. 

The riders on Ineos Grenadiers seemed split on whether to go for the TT option, or Continental's more versatile GP 5000 S. Egan Bernal went for the former, while, as you can see below, debutant Ben Turner preferred the latter. 

A collection of Ineos Grenadiers bike tyres

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

Jonas Vingegaard ditches a chainring

Jonas Vingegaard's 1x drivetrain

Vingegaard's mechanics tried their best to conceal his bike in the team paddock, but here's our stealthy snap.

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

While doing his recon of the Côte de Pike on the eve of the race, reigning champion Vingegaard was spotted running a single chainring. 

It came as no surprise, then, when the Dane's bike in Bilbao on Saturday came equipped with the 1x version of SRAM's Red eTap AXS - the same set-up he used at last month's Critérium du Dauphiné

A closer look showed he had a 50T chainring, with a 10-36 cassette. The only other rider to go 1x at Jumbo-Visma was Wout van Aert, who used a similar groupset at Paris-Roubaix

A tiny cassette for Mathieu van der Poel

Mathieu van der Poel's rear cassette

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

With 34T cassettes now commonplace in the WorldTour peloton, the one on Mathieu van der Poel's spare bike stood out as being particularly small. 

Concentrating intently, we counted 30 teeth on the Dutchman's biggest cog. His front chainrings were 54T and 40T respectively. 

Metallic bottle cages on Canyon Aeroad bikes

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

Something that leaped out on the bikes of Van der Poel's Alpecin Deceuninck teammates was their metallic purple Elite bottle cages. Paired with the glossy purple of the Aeroad CFR, the colours were a sight to behold. 

Van der Poel, who has been riding an updated version of the bike this year, went with a slick white, however.

A prototype BMC Teammachine?

Ben O'Connor's prototype BMC teammachine

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

AG2R Citroën's Ben O'Connor is riding a different bike to his teammates at this year's Tour. 

The Australian's black BMC Teammachine SLR is a cut above those of his peers, and is handcrafted in the bike brand's Mpc (masterpiece) set-up, meaning it is fitted with the highest-end components on the market. 

A black bike downtube

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

Paint jobs galore

It's not just the riders' kits that get switched out for the Tour, their bikes get special treatment, too. Here's our pick of the bunch. 

Benoit Cosnefroy's black BMC bike

Benoît Cosnefroy's design bears Red Bull branding. The bike is thought to be the same protoype the team rode at the recent Critérium du Dauphiné.

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

Three Lapierre bikes at the Tour de France

An artist collective used artificial intelligence to design this paint job for Groupama FDJ's Lapierre Xelius.

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

A close-up of a blue AI paint job on a bike fork

Here's a closer look at the AI creation.

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

A metallic coloured Trek bike

Lidl-Trek are on one-of-a-kind Project One Icon Trek bikes. Here's Mads Pedersen's metallic, multicoloured Madone. 

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

Mark Cavendish's special bike for the Tour de France 2023

Could this Wilier Filante SLR be the bike Mark Cavendish uses to take stage win 35?

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

Mark Cavendish's front fork, which says CVNDSH

Vowels are so out of fashion.  

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

Subtle sprint shifters

Ever wondered how sprinters click through the gears while cutting through the air in the drops? Well, they use satellite shifters, which are attached to the bars, and cut out of the bar tape. 

Here's Mark Cavendish's trigger. 

A sprint shifter on a bike handlebar

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

Sprint shifters aren't only for the fastmen, though. Romain Bardet and a handful of his dsm-firmenich teammates also had them fitted to their bikes. 

Cavendish only opted for one, for his right hand, while Bardet had them on both sides. 

A sprint shifter on a bike handlebar

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

A custom jockey wheel

A red, carbon fibre derailleur jockey wheel

(Image credit: Tom Davidson / Future)

Last but not least, here's a shot of the custom jockey wheel Cofidis' Guillaume Martin was sporting in Bilbao. 

The component was produced by French brand Nova Ride, and is composed of ultra-lightweight carbon fibre. The rest of the Cofidis team were running standard Shimano Dura Ace set-ups.

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1