By Stefan Abram
After soloing to victory with such flamboyant style at the 2021 World Championship road race in Leuven, Belgium, it was naturally only a matter of time until Julian's Alaphilippe's win was commemorated in a custom paint job on his Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7.
The bike gets its debut today at the Milano–Torino semi-Classic – preparation for the final Monument of the season, the ‘race of the falling leaves’, Il Lombardia.
But now let’s take a look at what Specialized’s senior graphic concept designer, Tom Briggs has whipped up for Alaphilippe.
The rugged, disruptive design marks a stark departure from the clean and pristine colourway Alaphilippe was presented with last year.
Explaining the thought process behind the paint, Briggs said: “The [bike was] inspired by the swirling storm of competition. That moment when all of the rider’s effort is being put into the pedals. Their vision starts to blur and their eyes cross."
“If you look at the World Champ top tube logo it’s offset as though their vision was starting to see double."
That notion of a "storm of competition" extends into other elements of the paintwork.
On first glance, you might assume that the almost random waves and channels that texture the tubes are the result of a raw carbon finish displaying its imperfections through a very thin coat of paint.
Instead, these irregular ripples have been created by hand, wrapping the tubes in plastic to disturb the paint and represent the “swirling of thoughts, emotions, training and everything else that goes into that one singular moment of glory as they become the world champion.”
But it’s the front of the bike where the stamp of the world champ is really made known, with a beautiful fade between the colours of that coveted jersey.
With the continuing subtle, swirling patterns, and the almost metallic finish, Alaphilippe’s SL7 has been given a very distinctive flair.
Although it seems that even winning the World Championships isn’t sufficient to bump you up the order list for new Dura-Ace – this SL7 is still spec’d with the now five-year-old R9100 series and its mere 11-speed cassette.
Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.
Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20. Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually, to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.
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