The Tour de France (opens in new tab) doesn’t only mean three weeks of exciting racing. It also guarantees the launch of new products and special colourways as brands take advantage of the unparalleled global attention. In modern times at least, the Grande Boucle is also the big shop window.
So on the opening day of the 109th edition, it’s only right that this week’s round-up has a distinct Tour flavour to it.
We start with news of a competition to design the paint scheme for the official bike of the Tour de France. Could your design grace the Champs-Élysées?
Next up, Team EF Education’s Cannondale bikes. While not new products per se they're decked out as part of the fresh livery designed by Rapha and Palace skateboards and will be used throughout the race.
We've also got a new Bollé helmet that’ll be worn by one of the French wild card teams, B&B Hotels-KTM and artificial intelligence-designed sunglasses that Groupama-FDJ riders will be sporting.
Finally, THAT aero CeramicSpeed pulley wheel system again - but this time resplendent in Danish colours in honour of the Grand Départ in Copenhagen.
Colnago competition will see fan-designed paint job arrive in Paris
Tadej Pogačar heads into the Tour de France trying to do something only eight (well, nine if you’re counting Lance) riders have done before him: win three overall titles. That the Slovenian is hoping to achieve these wins consecutively and all before the age of 24, only serves to highlight his otherworldly talents.
So, potentially, who better to design a bike for than the defending champion? Colnago, who sponsor Pogacar’s UAE Emirates team, are once again the designated Official Bike of the Tour de France. To celebrate this accolade the venerated Italian brand is offering the opportunity to design a paint scheme for its unreleased Prototipo bike (opens in new tab) that Pog and his teammates will be racing in this year’s Tour. The winning design will then be used on a bike ridden by one of the UAE Emirates team during the last stage to Paris before the one-of-a-kind machine is auctioned off.
As a bike racing fan seeing your design heading down the Champs-Élysées is quite the prize. To find out more about the competition and how to enter visit https://colnagotdf.carrd.co/ (opens in new tab)
EF Education celebrate the Tour de France Femmes with another Rapha x Palace collaboration
Last year it was ducks. This time around it’s dragons.
Team EF Education-EasyPost will once again be easy to spot during this year's race, thanks to another none-too-subtle collaboration between kit sponsors Rapha and Palace skateboards. This year the bold design celebrates the inaugural Tour de France Femmes race, which will feature the EF Education-Tibco-SVB, and hopes to “elevate the voice of women in cycling” in general.
The bright livery features a yellow cartoon dragon and the glyph that’s the universally recognised symbol for women as well as a few logos and is used across both kit and bikes. The bikes in question are Cannondale’s SuperSix Evo, SystemSix and SuperSlice.
The SuperSlice will be first on show, used by the team in the opening time trial. The Vision Metron TFW rear disc wheel, delivered in purple, pink and hi-vis yellow, will ensure that the likes of Rigoberto Uran, Neilson Powless and the Dane, Magnus Cort won’t go unnoticed no matter their performance against the clock.
The SystemSix aero bike should make a strong showing during the opening week that features a few flattish stages, with the wind potentially playing havoc. The SuperSix Evo is likely to become the weapon of choice once the race hits mainland France and the parcours starts to get a little lumpy. All three models will get to do it all again when the Tour de France Femmes begins on July 24.
The design is sure to divide opinion just as last year’s did, but if you're a fan you’ll be pleased to know that a limited edition Rapha x Palace Cannondale SuperSix Evo frameset will be available for sale in the near future.
For more details visit cannondale.com (opens in new tab)
Bollé Avio promises to be light, fast and cool
Today’s race helmets often attempt to work aerodynamic advantages into a lightweight package. Bollé’s latest lid, the Avio MIPS, claims to offer both of these benefits, while also offering plenty of ventilation too - not something that many aero helmets do so well.
The Avio weighs in at a claimed 234 grams, which definitely makes it light. The aero design uses a low-profile silhouette with a rear Kammtail design to help reduce drag. As for the venting, the Avio boasts large front vents, inner channels and small rear vents, which Tove Fritzell, Bollé product and innovation director, says helps riders to “stay cool on the climbs”. Safety is also a primary objective of course, and the Avio uses the latest MIPS Air system, which is lighter than the original MIPS design.
It’s a helmet that will be worn during this year’s Tour de France by B&B Hotels-KTM. As a French wild card team we should get to see the helmet in plenty of breakaways as they look gain exposure for their sponsors. Equally, we're likely to see the new lid during the mountain stages, when veteran climber Pierre Rolland will hope to shine. Rolland comes into the race in good form having won the polka dot jersey at the recent Critérium du Dauphiné.
"The first sensation when I took the Avio in hand was its lightness,” says the French rider in the press release. “When I put it on my head, I felt like I had nothing on, I was touching my head to make sure my helmet was there!”
Bollé C-Shifter glasses
The Avio helmet is also accompanied by the release of the Bollé C-Shifter glasses, which can be safely stored in the Avio’s vents.
Bollé says C-Shifter's Volt+ lens is the first to have been created using artificial intelligence. The brand says it tested over 20 million combinations to develop a patented solution which delivers "a richer colour experience than is humanly possible with your own natural vision."
It claims the Volt+ offers 30% superior colour enhancement to help you see colours you’ve never perceived before while maintaining white balance. In addition to enhancing all colours, Volt+ offers high contrast vision, improved depth perception and high-performance polarisation.
The C-Shifter is available in six different combinations of frame colour and lens. Two combinations with the Classic lens are priced at £115 and four combinations with the Volt+ lens are prices at £145.
Watch out for them on the faces of Groupama-FDJ riders Valentin Madouas, Michael Storer, Quentin Pacher, Jake Stewart and Attila Valter.
For more information of both the Avio helmet and the C-Shifter glasses visit bolle.com (opens in new tab)
CeramicSpeed gets patriotic at this year's Grand Depart
While CeramicSpeed's rear derailleur cage might only deliver marginal gains its specially designed version for this year's Tour scores maximum points for pride.
The Danish company was naturally excited about both its latest piece of tech - an aerodynamically optimised version of its Oversized Pulley Wheel System (opens in new tab) - and the world’s biggest bike race starting in its home country.
"It's been over 20 years since I was invited to the Tour de France in 2001 by CSC - Tiscali to test the use of ceramic bearings in the pro peloton. And the fact that the Tour will begin in our home country this week makes me incredibly proud of how far we as a company have evolved during this time", says Jacob Csizmadia - founder & CEO of CeramicSpeed.
To celebrate it’s equipped some of its sponsored teams in the race - Astana Qazaqstan Team, Intermarché-Wanty- Gobert, Israel-Premier Tech, and Team TotalEnergies - with OSPW Aeros resplendent in the red and white Danish flag.
We covered the OSPW Aero on its release but couldn’t resist this classic piece of Tour-friendly marketing. Like EF’s aforementioned Cannondale bikes, the bold design will be hard to miss come Friday when the likes of Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko, Intermaché-Wanty-Gobert’s Taco van der Hoorn, TotalEnegies' Peter Sagan and of course IPT’s Danish star and GC hopeful Jakob Fuglsang get their race underway.
For more detail on CeramicSpeed’s OSPW Aero visit ceramicspeed.com (opens in new tab)
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Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for over twenty 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 fell in love with cycling at an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a passionate follower of bike racing to this day as well an avid road and gravel rider.