Blacked out tires and 11-speed over 12: tech takeaways from Tour of Britain Pro bikes

Not every rider wants the newest tech - or the tires supplied by their approved sponsor, it seems

Tom Pidcok's 11-spd chainset / Stephen Williams' blacked out Conti tyres / Trinity Racing's Tarmac SL8
(Image credit: Future / Andy Jones)

The Tour of Britain is one of few UK races with the gravitas to pull in some of the most well known names in cycling. Its significance in the global racing calendar means that it now attracts a host of WorldTour teams and their best riders. However, the organisers remain committed to providing opportunities for smaller UK squads, too. 

The result makes for exciting racing, but also for an interesting selection of pro bikes. Here's our pick of the bunch.

One thing's for sure, Continental's GP5000 tires seemed to be a popular choice among pro riders racing on UK roads.

Tom Pidcock’s Pinarello Dogma F

Tom Pidcock's Pinarello Dogma F race bike

(Image credit: Future / Andy Jones)

At first glance Tom Pidcock’s Dogma F race bike looks to be standard issue. However, a closer look reveals an interesting choice of groupset. While the rest of his fellow Grenadiers have long since made the switch to 12 gears, the Yorkshireman chooses to stick with 11; indeed, his 11-speed 53/39 Dura-Ace chainset even looks old, with plenty of scratches on the 170mm crank arms to prove their age. 

When asked why the 24-year-old opts to use ‘outdated’ equipment, the team mechanics suggested it was just Tom’s preference. While it’s safe to assume that Shimano ideally would want its high-profile sponsored teams such as Ineos to use its latest gear, it’s an intriguing equipment choice that likely points to a healthy dose of single-mindedness being a key ingredient in Pidcock’s continued recipe for success.

Luke Lamperti’s Specialized Tarmac SL8

Luke Lamperti's Specialized Tarmac SL8 race bike

(Image credit: Future / Andy Jones)

Trinity Racing’s riders have been easy to spot at this year’s Tour. The team, headed by sports director Peter Kennaugh, have been racing on a lineup of freshly minted Tarmac SL8s, finished in a striking paint scheme. Underneath the bold brush strokes is Specialized’s remodeled race bike built using its highest grade 12r FACT carbon. 

Luke Lamperti’s SL8 is equipped with SRAM’s recently updated wireless groupset, Force AXS. Here the 20-year-old American opts for a 54/41 chainset paired with a 10-33t cassette. Unlike Tom Pidcock and his penchant for ‘old tech’, Lamperti’s use of a second-tier groupset (Force sits behind Red in SRAM’s groupset hierarchy) is likely a result of Trinity's CT status. 

Another interesting detail is the choice of tires fitted to his Roval’s Rapide SLX wheels - they look to be  ‘Project Black’ S-Works prototypes; Project Black products are yet-to-be released items that are being tested by Specialized sponsored teams and riders.

Stephen Williams’ Factor Ostro VAM

Stephen Williams' Factor Ostro VAM race bike

(Image credit: Future / Andy Jones)

The Welshman came into the Tour of Britain hot off the back of winning the Arctic Race of Norway GC, where he also notched up a stage victory and a third place in the mountains classification. The Israel - Premier Tech rider’s Factor Ostro VAM is a stealthy looking number, with Black Inc wheels and integrated aero cockpit to match. 

Interestingly, Williams’ has chosen to use non-team issue Continental GP5000 tires, with the graphics blacked out appropriately - since the team is sponsored by Maxxis - adding further to the bike’s monochrome colour palette. 

Johan Meens’ De Rosa Merek

Johan Meens' De Rosa Merak race bike

(Image credit: Future / Andy Jones)

Johan Meens’ De Rosa Merak Disc might be one of the more interesting bikes at this year’s Tour. While the pursuit of improved aerodynamics has resulted in many of today’s race bikes looking much the same, Meens’ Merak cuts a more utilitarian all-rounder profile by comparison, notable for its slim-by-comparison tube shapes.

The Bingoal WB rider continues the theme with a ‘trad’ two-piece bar and stem that’s becoming far less common in today’s professional peloton  The Belgian’s preference is for a 100mm Deda Zero stem and matching ‘non aero’ bars. The choice results in another rare sighting, an exposed Di2 junction box, fixed under the stem and with exposed cables no less. 

As for the groupset, it’s a truly mixed bag; a composite affair consisting of an 11-speed Dura-Ace rear derailleur, an Ultegra front mech and a Rotor Aldhu chainset. 

Joshua Giddings’ Ridley Noah

Josh Giddings' Ridley Noah Fast race bike

(Image credit: Future / Andy Jones)

At 6’4” Giddings is one of the tallest riders in the pro ranks resulting in a saddle-to-bar drop ratio that would likely make even Kasper Asgreen wince. The elongated seat mast and large Ridley Noah Fast frameset make for a striking bike that appears almost as tall as it is long - the 20-year-old Lotto Dstny development rider uses a 130mm stem, which isn’t overly long by today’s standards, especially given his height. 

Wout van Aert’s Cervelo S5

Wout van Aert's Cervelo S5 race bike

(Image credit: Future / Andy Jones)

The Belgian's yellow and black Cervélo S5 is a common sight at the business end of most races he enters, and this year’s Tour of Britain proved no different. Shown here is the 2x version, featuring SRAM Red AXS with a 52/39 chainset. However, we did spy a 1x equipped bike in his locker that was getting a wash and spruce up ahead of the start of the race - so it appears that Jumbo Visma riders will continue to experiment with single chainring set-ups for specific stages. 

Tobias Lund Andresen’s Scott Foil RC

Tobias Lund Andresen's Scott Foil race bike

(Image credit: Future / Andy Jones)

The Dane's Scott Foil RS is the quintessential modern aero race bike - fully integrated with a deep head and down tube, a seat tube that hugs the rear wheels, D-shaped seat post and dropped and angled seat stays, all designed with aero gains in mind.  

However, there is one notable nod to the past - the Team DSM rider’s tubular tires, in this case 26mm Vittoria Corsas. While tubs continue to stave off extinction, the shift in the peloton to tubeless technology is undeniable. But clearly the French outfit believes that the additional time spent gluing and drying the tires is worth it once out on the road. 

Noah Hobbs’ Lapierre Xelius SL

Noah Hobbs' Lapierre Xelius race bike

(Image credit: Future / Andy Jones)

Groupama-FDJ’s continental team continues to be a popular landing spot for young British talent; Devon’s Noah Hobbs is signed up through the 2024 season and is racing at the Tour of Britain for the first time.

So what does a 19-year-old’s race bike look like? The development team use the same Lapierre Xelius SL frameset as their WorldTour counterparts but the groupset drops a rung on the ladder from Shimano Dura-Ace to 12-speed Ultegra - Hobbs’ opts here for a 54/40 chainset with a 170mm crank arm length. The wheels set is Ultegra too, in the shape of the C60 model, fitted with tubeless Continental GP5000 S TR tires.

Gonzalo Serrano’s Canyon Aeroad CF SLX

Gonzalo Serrano's Canyon Aeroad race bike

(Image credit: Future / Andy Jones)

The Spaniard’s overall win in last year’s shortened 2022 edition was the first GC title of his professional career. His return to British roads sees him riding Canyon’s flagship road bike, the Aeroad CF SLX, decked out in Movistar’s familiar colours. The 29-year-old uses a SRAM Red AXS groupset, opting for 52/39 chainrings with the integrated Quarq power meter. His wheelset is courtesy of SRAM sister brand Zipp, with Serrano using the 353 NSW model that features the distinctive sawtooth profile and hookless rim. Naturally, these are set up tubeless with Continental GP5000 SL R tyres, a popular choice in this year’s race.

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Freelance writer

Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for twenty five years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He has been a cycling enthusiast from an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a keen follower of bike racing to this day as well as a regular road and gravel rider.