We’re just a week into the Tour de France and there’s already been some bonkers action, with Julian Alaphilippe, whose Specialized S-Works Tarmac Disc we featured this week, taking the yellow jersey on Monday and putting up a brave fight until the first summit finish of the race, where he relinquished the maillot jaune by just six seconds on La Planche des Belles Filles.
With plenty more action to come, including the main mountain stages in the Pyrenees and Alps, it’s still anyone’s guess who’s going to win the whole event or even hold on to the yellow jersey on a day-to-day basis. It’s exciting stuff watching the Tour, so check out our guide so you don’t miss a single second of the action.
- Specialized’s World Cup-winning Demo 29 finally hits the market
- How to watch the Tour de France 2019 live on TV
- Tour de France bikes 2019: who’s riding what?
Elsewhere in the cycling world, we’re enjoying a World Cup doubleheader of XC, XC short track and downhill that kicked off last weekend in Andorra on the impossibly technical terrain over the mountains just outside of La Massanna.
In the XC, we saw Nino Schurter, who was riding this limited edition Scott Spark RC, take the win by a mere two seconds over Mathias Flueckiger, while Anne Terpstra beat Jolanda Neff by a big 36-second margin. The Short Track champions were Henrique Avancini. who pipped Schurter to the post, and Alessandra Kelle beat Neff by a tiny margin.
And in the insane downhill competition, a determined Loic Bruni and the ever-successful Rachel Atherton won the weekend’s racing in the elite categories. It was quite spectacular.
This weekend, then, the World Cup circus returns to Les Gets after a 15-year hiatus. The last time the world’s best set wheel to dirt during a top-level competition on the famous Mont Chery hillside was at the 2004 World Championships when the winner in the men’s was Fabien Barel — who was awarded the gold medal after Steve Peat crashed out in a cloud of dust on the last turn. This marked the starting point in Peat’s career as he chased the elusive World Champs title.
So, who’s likely to win this round? War is waging for the overall lead in both the men’s and women’s races and it’s still totally up in the air about who is going to come out on top. Looking at previous form from the Crankworx events at Les Gets you might have wanted to put money on Troy Brosnan and Rachel Atherton for the wins.
Unfortunately, Rachel Atherton ruptured her Achilles tendon during Thursday’s training. This blows the women’s race wide open and it could be Marine Cabirou’s time to shine on home soil.
Make sure you tune in to Red Bull TV on 12, 13 and 14 of July to watch all of the action from Les Gets — I’m certain it’s going to be an incredible weekend with some of the best racing this season has seen yet.
In the tech world loads of new kit has recently been launched including bikes from Juliana and Santa Cruz, while RockShox’ Reverb fork has been updated and BMC has gone to town producing more new bikes than you can shake a stick at, such as the Roadmachine and the XC-tech-inspired, soft tail URS gravel bike.
So what delights have we got in this week’s edition of First Look Friday? Keep scrolling to find out!
Manitou Mezzer Pro enduro fork
Staying true to Manitou’s rear-facing arch design, the brand new Mezzer looks like a burly and capable enduro-focussed fork.
Weighing 2,067g for the 180mm travel 29-inch wheeled version, it features 37mm stanchions and a Hexlock SL2 15mm axle that, Manitou claims, should help to keep the fork mega stiff.
There’s a fully-adjustable Dorado Air spring that should help you tune the ride feel along with high- and low-speed compression adjustment and low-speed rebound adjustment that are all externally tuned.
The air chamber has a system called Infinite Rate Tune that lets you adjust how progressive the fork is, and how much mid-stroke support it has using a third air chamber without sacrificing small bump sensitivity.
The fork’s available in 27.5- and 29-inch versions and has between 140mm and 180mm of internally-adjustable travel in 10mm increments. There are also four offset options, two for each wheel size: the 650b models come in 37mm or 44mm while the 29er forks are available with 44mm or 51mm offsets.
The fork’s black legs and chrome graphics certainly look striking and I can’t wait to bolt a set to my test bike and give them a thrashing.
- Buy now direct from Manitou
Red Bull Spect Fly sunglasses
Departing from its drink-focused business plan of promising to give you wings — or at least a sugar- or caffeine-fuelled buzz for 20 minutes – Red Bull is now branching out into the hard and soft goods markets.
The Spect glasses are a confident attempt to mix both casual and sports-specific glasses into one package.
Red Bull and Spect formed their partnership back in 2016 and have now developed this range of glasses and goggles together.
The Fly sunnies here feature a dual temple system that helps to secure the glasses to your head with two pre-formed wire arms that loop over the back of your ears.
The wire arms are retractable into the glasses so if you’re just chilling at the pub you can slide them away — but as soon as you intend on getting rowdy on or off the bike slide them back out.
The lenses are polarised and have an anti-reflection coating, so you should be able spot the fastest lines out on the bike or the quickest way to the bar.
The dual temple system is available in plenty of different styles so if these Oakley Frogskin and Rayban Wayfarer inspired glasses aren’t your thing, fear not.
- £135 / €150
- Buy now direct from Red Bull
Hayes Dominion A4 hydraulic disc brakes
Although it’s not new to Hayes’ brakes lineup, the Dominion A4 boasts a 4-piston caliper, adjustable lever reach and pad contact position and specially-designed disc rotors that claim to help reduce noise and vibrations.
The Dominion is an enduro-focused brake that has been designed from the ground up to produce excellent levels of power.
Hayes claims it does this by having a structurally rigid design, a Kevlar hose and a dual-port bleed system to help you get the best bleed possible. The brake lever uses cartridge bearings and the lever’s master cylinder has the smallest amount of dead stroke possible before the brake’s pistons actuate.
There’s an aluminium piston with a piston glide ring to insure smooth actuation.
The caliper features a system to help align it correctly with the disc called Crosshair, which uses small grub screws that you can tighten to align the brake and they use DOT 5.1 fluid which is widely available.
- Buy now direct from Hayes
Pro Bike Tool Torque Wrench Set
Every budding mechanic aspires to build up and eventually complete their toolset, but this can come at a great monetary cost, especially if you’re wanting to fill your toolbox’s draws with Silca kit.
A torque wrench is a great bit of kit to own, too. It’ll help stop you overtightening bolts, rounding heads out or stripping threads.
Enter Pro Bike Tool. Its budget-friendly torque wrench is adjustable between 2Nm and 20Nm, comes with an extension bar and 11 tool bits that include 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.5 and 2mm Allen keys and Torx 10, 25 and 30 heads.
The wrench uses a 1/4-inch square driver which means it’s compatible with other socket sets. The ratchet is driven using a 72-tooth cog.
The set feels well made and is fairly weighty and robust, but only years of hard use will be able to show any weaknesses. I’m looking forward to spending more time with the wrench in my man cave soon.
- £57.99 / $59.99
- Buy now direct from Pro Bike Tool
BiSaddle ShapeShifter EXT Stealth saddle
Our behinds are all different shapes and sizes. That’s just a fact of life, right? BiSaddle argues that it’s going to be quite a difficult task to find a seat off the shelf that’s perfectly suited to your derriere and that’s why it’s gone to town by making an entirely adjustable saddle.
The width, angle and profile of the seat are all easily altered thanks to the saddle’s split shape design. In addition, each of the saddle’s component parts are replaceable, so if you damage them or they wear out you can buy new ones.
So, what’s the benefit? Well, you’ll be able to find a saddle that suits your needs perfectly and one that, if your needs change, the saddle can be adjusted to reflect those new demands. And what’s the ultimate aim? To ride in complete comfort without any numbness or soreness that can be caused by a seat.