Julian Alaphilippe’s World Championship winning S-Works Tarmac SL7

The Specialized bike that helped secure Alaphilippe a consecutive win and another season in stripes

Last week we asked if Wout van Aert and his Cervélo S5 were heading to World Championship victory. This week, breaking Belgian fan’s hearts, we present you with the Specialized Tarmac Julian Alaphilippe used to successfully defend his Elite Men’s road racing title.

The specially built S-Works Tarmac SL7 he used in Flanders jettisoned the rainbow stripes livery it’s sported from most of the previous year. Opting instead for a matt black paint job to reflect that the defending champion begins the day in their national kit and not the stripes they have worn for the preceding 12-months, the California-based firm will be free to slap that rainbow back in place in time for Roubaix this weekend.At the World Championships, riders are supported by their national teams and not the trade squads they race for the rest of the season. Nevertheless, you can still see a small Deceuninck–Quick-Step logo on the bike’s seat tube, along with a matching wolfpack logo on its top tube. Starting as the defending champion also meant Alaphilippe’s bike bore the #1 tag on its seatpost to match his race number.

Choice of champions

With only a few cobbled sections on the course, Alaphilippe’s decision to opt for the Tarmac and not Specialized’s more forgiving Roubaix was unsurprising. However, his choice of Specialized’s Turbo Cotton tyres in a 26mm probably represents a slight nod towards increased comfort and grip on the bumpier sections. While most riders will usually opt for esoteric off-brand tubulars with their sponsor’s logos printed on them, Alaphilippe employed Specialized’s standard production clinchers with latex tubes. A combination previously used to good effect by the similarly sponsored Kasper Asgreen at the Tour of Flanders in April; this is apparently the first time a World Championship race has been won on clinchers.

Paired to the brand’s deep-section Roval Rapide CLX wheels, Specialized or its house brands also provided most of the other components, including the S-Works Romin Evo saddle and a semi-integrated stem. Unusual in retaining a fairly conventional two-piece bar and stem assembly, Alaphilippe used his preferred Pro Vibe Superlight handlebars in a relatively narrow 38cm. Wrapped in Supacaz tape, real workshop nerds will be pleased to see this neatly rounded off with what appears to be Velox Tressostar cotton wrap.

Like almost the entire Shimano sponsored pro peloton, Alaphilippe continues to use the 11-speed Shimano Dura-Ace R9170 Di2 groupset rather than the recently released 12-speed version. However, at some point, he appears to have swapped to using the latest rotors, with those on his bike looking like the models borrowed from Shimano’s mountain bike range, but which now also arrive on its latest top tier road groupset.With a 53/39t crankset and 11-30t cassette, there didn’t look to be much in the way of wear on the smaller of his two chainrings.

Neat and tidy

Clearly keen not to find himself disqualified for littering, the French rider’s bike arrived for its post-race photoshoot with an energy bar wrapper still lodged under the saddle. Also attached is a red tag that appears to indicate it’s been checked by the UCI and given the all-clear regarding hidden motors or any other funny business. Still replete with the sweat and muck it picked up during the 268.3km race, the bike is missing the Wahoo bolt computer Alaphilippe used to count down the distance remaining throughout the race.

If you want to get a look at some other equally winning Specialized bikes, the brand will appear at Rouleur Live in London between the 4-6th November. More information and tickets can be found here.

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