Since its arrival in professional cycling with the legendary Saeco team in the late 1990s, Cannondale has become one of the winningest bike brands.
The flamboyant and controversial Mario Cipollini (opens in new tab) catapulted Cannondale into the limelight with his astonishing speed and equally astonishing outfits during that time. 'Il Re Leone' was the first to deploy a sprint train - a line of red-and-yellow bikes and jerseys that went so fast that rival teams and sprinters simply couldn't keep up.
Cannondale chalked up five Giro d'Italia GC victories between 1997 and 2010 - but so far has never won the Tour de France (opens in new tab). After an epic stage five (opens in new tab) saw EF Education-EasyPost's Neilson Powless move to within 13 seconds of the yellow jersey (opens in new tab), and in stage six to just four seconds, could 2022 be the year?
Powless was a late addition to EF’s Tour roster. But after his fourth place overall at the Tour de Suisse (opens in new tab) and an impressive victory at Clasica San Sebastian in 2021 (opens in new tab), Powless is a proven allrounder.
Let's take a closer look at the bike that Cannondale will be banking on. The Cannondale SystemSix (opens in new tab) is the team's aero bike that's currently sporting the most unconventional paintjob in the peloton... which could switch to the iconic yellow of the Tour GC winner if everything goes Powless's way for the next two weeks.
Cannondale's Clive Gosling told us that back in the 1990s Cannondale might have been the first brand to have a yellow bike ready 'just in case' - but couldn't share any information on current plans for paint.
And let's not forget Magnus Cort. Is the polka-dot Cannondale being sprayed up as we speak?
Dan Cavallari shot Rigoberto Uran (opens in new tab)’s SystemSix for Cycling Weekly. The Colombian rider has come closest to winning the Tour de France for Cannondale, finishing second to Chris Froome in 2017 with the Drapac team.
The modern EF-Education EasyPost team has styled itself as a disrupter, as the retina-searing bright pink paintjob which screams about the collaboration with Rapha and Palace Skateboards, indicates.
"The entire frame is full of Easter eggs, and you could examine the whole thing until your eyes were hurting and you still wouldn’t have spotted everything," Cavallari reported having photographed Uran's bike.
In the past we’ve seen ducks but this year the little green dragon is a common motif on EF’s bikes and kits. As is the ‘female’ symbol; the point here is to shine a light on women’s cycling in advance of the Tour Femmes coming up toward the end of July - a women’s Tour de France for the first time since the 1980s.
The SystemSix is equipped with the the new Shimano Dura-Ace (opens in new tab) semi-wireless setup. The front and rear derailleurs are wired, but the shifters are wireless.
A 54/40 chainring combo gives Uran all the push he’ll need for flat stages. The crank is fitted with a Power2Max power meter, unsurprisingly painted pink.
Up front is an integrated Vision Metron 6D one-piece bar/stem. The hoses emerge briefly from underneath the bar to disappear into a the front of the SystemSix's head tube.
The Vision Metron 45 SL wheels are tubular rather than tubeless, with unbranded tubs. Of course the team also has tubeless wheels and tyres at their disposal, but it’s interesting to see that the pro riders can’t quite let go of their faithful old tubulars. The EF team has been one of the most progressive as far as tubeless is concerned, even having used foam inserts, so this retro step was something of a surprise.
EF’s water bottles are completely compostable. They contain no microplastics and are made completely from plant-based products. If a rider should lose a bottle and it rolls off into the woods, it will biodegrade in just a few weeks or months. They sit in Elite Leggero Carbon bottle cages, which are of course not so biodegradable.
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Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor following an MA in online journalism. In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends most of his time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
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