They were two wins that helped to define the 2021 cycling season.
The first was as astounding as it was confirmation of the immense, near-unique versatility that Wout van Aert possesses.
The second was a stunning verification of just how superior Primož Roglič is to his other general classification rivals.
Whether we’re talking about the former’s phenomenal win on stage 11 of the Tour de France that included two passes of the feared and revered Mont Ventoux, or the latter’s domineering ride to win at Los Lagos de Covadonga on stage 17 of the Vuelta a España, both rides were powered by something extra special: the new Cervélo R5.
Already one of the finest bikes at going uphill, the new model is lighter and more compliant than ever before. Tom Dumoulin reported that the updated bike helped him to climb more efficiently, thus reducing fatigue and aiding recovery.
His Jumbo-Visma teammates have demonstrated that they have universally agreed with their Dutch teammate. But not by throwaway comments, by actual race results.
The WorldTour powerhouse team have ridden the bike to five successes in the past three months: two stages of the Tour, a further double at the Vuelta, and a stage of the Tour of Britain that Van Aert dominated.
Each win has been a masterclass, too: a lesson in how to win the biggest and most-fiercely contested races in front of a worldwide audience.
Van Aert’s win on Ventoux was followed up four days later by Sepp Kuss’ enthralling victory through the Principality of Andorra. Tongue out, his family by the roadside, the American cruised up the final ascent of the Col de Beixalis, taming its rearingly-steep hairpins and shooting past adoring fans. Each roadside spectator not just saw an athlete at the top of his game, but a bike capable of accentuating the climbing talent Kuss possesses.
A month later, en-route to winning a third consecutive Vuelta a España, Roglič was aided by the Cervélo R5 as he beat his closest competitor Enric Mas atop Valdepeñas de Jaén. After a few days out of red, it reasserted his title as the race’s undoubted favourite.
The Vuelta, inevitably, would be his, and he made sure of it on stage 17 with a crushing display by the two lakes of Covadonga. The road leading to the pools of water and marauding cows is the race’s most famous, written about by numerous authors, in several languages, down many a decade. Covadonga is to the Vuelta what Ventoux is to the Tour.
And Roglič, aboard his chosen machine of the Cervélo R5, made it looks easy. Second, 1-35 behind him? Kuss, of course. Riding the same model.
In between the two Grand Tours was the Olympics in Tokyo. Van Aert didn’t win, but he did come second to Richard Carapaz, the best challenger to the Ecuadorian. The Dutch champion gave it everything in pursuit of glory.
He returned to winning ways six weeks after, winning four stages and the GC at the Tour of Britain. His win on stage four, atop the Great Orme in Llandudno, was his finest: pulling clear of every other rouleur on the uphill finish, forcing his Cervélo R5 into another milestone triumph.
Van Aert, Roglič and Kuss are the three stars of the Jumbo-Visma team. The quintet of wins aboard the Cervélo R5 are without doubt just the start. It’s a collaboration destined for more success.
Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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