Pro bike: Tadej Pogačar's Strade Bianche-winning Colnago V4RS

A closer look at the setup the Slovenian was running when he won on the Tuscan white roads in spectacular style

Tadej Pogačar is the world’s most versatile rider – as he demonstrated again when he attacked off the front with 81 kilometres to go at Strade Bianche on March 3. He can win the Tour de France, he can win on the cobbled bergs of Flanders, he can snatch smooth one-day Classics and he can make his rivals eat his dust on the white roads of Tuscany.

The Colnago V4RS has proven to be a perfect match for the rider who can win anywhere. Unlike Visma-Lease a Bike, whose riders can choose between a lightweight Cervélo R5, aero S5 or endurance-focused Soloist depending on the parcours, Pogačar's UAE Emirates team have just the V4RS and judging by his results on it, it’s all the bike he needs.

James Startt photographed his bike before the start and, unlike Pogačar's rivals, he got to see a bit more of it than just the rear wheel.

Tadej Pogacar's race number on his Strade Bianche Colnago

Originally trialled in WorldTour races as five different prototypes with different carbon layups (all called ‘Prototipo’) alongside the outgoing V3RS in 2022, the final version was settled on in time for the 2023 season and Pogačar rode it to victory in a six out of eight of the early-season races he entered including the Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold and Flèche Wallonne before fracturing his wrist at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and having to sit out the rest of the spring on the turbo.

Tadej Pogacar's front wheel against a brick wall

Strade Bianche doesn’t present the same sort of challenges to bike and rider that the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix do – though with modern carbon bikes even for those races all that’s mostly required is bigger rubber – so Pogačar's setup isn’t much changed from what he’d use for a regular road race.

For the gravel of the white roads, it’s the wheels and tyres that are the crucial elements, and teams exhaustively test different models and pressures in order to find the best ride for both the road and off-road sections – Pogačar is using tubeless 28c Continental Grand Prix 5000S TRs on Enve SES 4.5 wheels. These rims offer an ideal balance between aerodynamics and ruggedness – according to Enve they were originally developed for the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix so the white roads are a breeze for them – with a rim depth of 45mm and a claimed weight of 1,432g. They're not featherweight climbing wheels. The SES 4.5s' internal rim width is a wide 25mm with hookless walls: Pogačar will probably get more than 30mm out of his tyres.

The actual tyre pressures on the day are a closely guarded secret and you’ll generally never get much information out of team mechanics. Tadej Pogacar's Colnago V4RS drivetrain

UAE Team Emirates have some trick componentry at their disposal thanks to sponsorship by Italian manufacturer of high-end parts Carbon-Ti. The 54/40 X-Carboring EVO chainrings, according to the brand, have a "structural carbon-fibre body and feature CNC-machined and shaped Grade 5 Titanium pins to allow lightning-fast and precise shifting." These are designed to bring Pogačar's bike closer to the 6.8kg weight limit. The deal also covers rotors and thru-axles. Tadej Pogacar's Enve cockpitEnve also supplies the cockpit – but this is a deeper, team-only component as opposed to the consumer Enve SES AR (aero road) handlebar that was launched earlier this year. Tadej Pogacar's Enve cockpit viewed from the front

The hoods are turned in so that the Slovenian can lower his CdA as far as possible – something that will have benefited him during his mega-long solo breakaway – but the angle is not extreme enough to get UCI commissaires reaching for their protractors...

The 3D-printed Wahoo Element Bolt-specific computer mount launched with the V4RS for Colnago's own CC.01 bar is a little neater than the Enve mount that Pogačar uses here, and is claimed to save 0.75 watts, but in this case the race wasn't decided by fractions of a watt.

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