After 21 frantic stages that produced 13 stage winners in total, Tadej Pogačar stood atop the Paris podium as the 2021 Tour de France champion.
Pogačar rode into Paris on a custom Colnago V3Rs. In fact, so dominant was his victory, the Slovenian’s bike was handed a yellow-accented makeover as soon as he rolled out in the maillot jaune for the first time on stage nine.
The lightweight aero all-rounder was officially launched two years ago, and as far as credentials go, consecutive Tour de France victories are as good as it gets.
But which other pro bikes were powered to victory during this year’s Tour de France? Beneath every great rider is a top-specced bike, dressed to impress and fine-tuned to very specific needs.
Let’s take a closer look…
Which bike brand won the most 2021 Tour de France stages?
- Specialized: 7
- Cervélo: 4
- Colnago: 3
- Merida: 3
- Canyon: 2
- BMC: 1
- Trek: 1
Stage one: Julian Alaphillipe – Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
Julian Alaphilippe swapped the rainbow jersey for the yellow jersey when he stormed to victory on stage one of this year’s Tour de France into Landerneau.
Being world champion has its perks, not least a custom paint job for his Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7.
Alaphilippe broke ground winning on clincher tyres last year, and his teammates all followed the trend this year – with Specialized’s Turbo Cotton tyres fitted to Roval Rapide CLX hoops.
At the heart of the bike is a super-lightweight and aero optimised frame. Dressed in Shimano’s Dura-Ace R9170 Di2 road bike groupset, Specialized proclaims the Tarmac SL7 to be the fastest race bike, ever. A bike befitting of the world champion – with the rainbow-themed paintjob to match.
Stage two: Mathieu van der Poel – Canyon Aeroad CFR
Alpecin-Fenix’s Mathieu van der Poel was the next man into the yellow jersey, achieving something his grandfather, Raymond Poulidor, so unluckily never managed in his own illustrious career.
Canyon ensured it marked the occasion fittingly by gifting van der Poel a custom yellow Canyon Aeroad CFR for the following stage, with a touching tribute to Pou Pou on the top tube.
The actual stage-winning bike, minus the yellow makeover, had already caught the eye thanks to the return of the CP0018 Aerocockpit.
Van der Poel – and indeed every Canyon Aeroad CFR owner – was unable to use the original cockpit, in which the cables are internally routed down the head tube after his bar broke at Le Samyn earlier this year.
But Canyon’s flagship aero bike, complete with Shimano Dura-Ace C65 wheels, Vittoria tyres and a Dura-Ace R9150 groupset, was back to its original design for the 2021 Tour.
And the extra watts saved clearly paid dividends, as van der Poel marked his debut at the race with a memorable victory and stint in the leader’s jersey.
Stage three: Tim Merlier – Canyon Aeroad CFR
In fact, those extra watts were helping more than just van der Poel as Tim Merlier continued a successful start to the race for Alpecin-Fenix.
In fact, so dominant was the team’s sprint train that team-mate Jasper Philipsen followed him over the line in second place.
As team-mate van der Poel – seventh on the stage – rode into Pontivy on his custom yellow steed, his team-mates were further boosting Canyon’s reputation for speed in a dominant victory.
Canyon also supplies Movistar and Arkea-Samsic, but it was the Alpecin-Fenix fastmen putting the Aeroad to best use in the opening stages.
Stage four: Mark Cavendish – Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
Canyon wasn’t the only bike brand celebrating multiple successes for their riders in the first week, as Deceuninck–Quick-Step very quickly set about justifying the new six-year extension to its deal with Specialized.
After Alaphilippe won on his custom-painted version on the opening stage, Mark Cavendish was aboard his own Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 for the first of his four stage wins.
There are some differences between the Frenchman’s bike and Cavendish’s setup – and not just the fact the Manx Missile rides a more understated, sleek black model.
Cavendish, as with his other Deceuninck–Quick-Step team-mates, rides Turbo Cotton clincher tyres wrapped around Roval Rapide aero wheels.
Up front, meanwhile, where Alaphilippe uses a round PRO bar, Cavendish sticks with Roval’s Rapide handlebar for its increased aero advantage.
Stage five: Tadej Pogačar – Colnago K.one (time-trial bike)
The first of Tadej Pogačar’s three stage wins was not aboard his Colnago V3Rs, but the K.one time-trial bike, which served him so well in 2020.
Slovenia’s first-ever Tour de France winner makes use of a healthy dose of Italian craftsmanship when it comes to his bike setups: UAE Team Emirates uses Campagnolo groupsets and wheelsets, and Vittoria tyres.
Pogačar’s stage five time-trial setup is a little unusual, in that he still uses 11-speed Campagnolo Super Record EPS as opposed to the current range-topping 12-speed iteration.
The setup was a success in 2020 when he snatched the yellow jersey on the penultimate day, and the same, trusty setup saw him lay down a marker this time around too.
Stage six: Mark Cavendish – Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
Once he got his taste for victory back, it seemed nothing would stop Mark Cavendish as he stormed to Tour de France stage win number 32.
Cavendish’s super-stiff, super-aero, super-aggressive setup features Specialized’s own S-Works Power Mirror saddle to keep things comfortable when he’s not blasting his way through a bunch sprint.
Stage seven: Matej Mohorič – Merida Reacto Disc Team
Merida may not be a title sponsor of the Bahrain-Victorious team anymore, but it still supplies the team’s bikes.
As such, it was on board the aero Merida Reacto that Matej Mohorič won stage seven of the 2021 Tour de France.
New for this year’s race were wider rims on the Vision Metron SL Disc wheelset, with Mohorič sporting the 60mm iteration on stage seven.
Vision and FSA also supply componentry on the Merida Reacto Disc Team, and the Vision Metron SL Disc hoops are wrapped in Continental Competition Pro ALX Ltd tubular tyres.
Stage eight: Dylan Teuns – Merida Scultura 5
The other weapon in Bahrain-Victorious’s road armoury is the Merida Scultura, and Dylan Teuns promptly won stage eight on the as-yet-unreleased latest model in the line.
Dubbed the Merida Scultura 5 on the UCI list of approved frames, the bike is closer to the Reacto than previous iterations.
With the current move for lightweight bikes becoming more aero – and the Scultura frame is really light, right at the lowest end of the UCI weight limit – the Scultura 5 is bang on-trend.
Dropped seatstays and fully internally-routed cables add aero credentials over previous versions.
As with Mohorič’s Reacto, Teuns’s Scultura also featured new, slightly wider Vision Metron wheels. For the mountain stages, the Metron 45 SL Disc is the hoop of choice.
Stage nine: Ben O’Connor – BMC TeamMachine SLR01
Ben O’Connor is not the first Australian rider to win a Tour de France stage on a BMC TeamMachine SLR01 bike.
But ten years on from Cadel Evans’s Tour de France victory, the top lightweight racing bike in the BMC armoury has undergone a lot of changes.
The latest version, updated for 2021, is lighter than ever – 820g to quote BMC – and is only available with disc brakes in the modern-day peloton.
BMC also claims aero improvements – again in keeping with the trend for lightweight-but-aero racing bikes.
O’Connor’s bike was dressed in Campagnolo Super Record EPS, but the Australian ace rode narrower Campag Bora One wheels for his mountain stage win – the off-the-peg AG2R Citroën Team edition features the Bora Ultra WTOs instead.
Stage ten: Mark Cavendish – Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
You wait four years for your next Tour de France win, and then…
Mark Cavendish was back on top of the podium as Specialized celebrated another victory for the S-Works Tarmac SL7 bike.
When Cav last won the green jersey at the Tour de France back in 2011, Specialized was only onto the third iteration of the Tarmac.
It was the first year the Manxman rode a Specialized bike, but during that year’s Tour it was the Specialized McLaren Venge and its aggressive aero profiles on which he was successful.
Aerodynamically, the Venge was actually more aerodynamic than the Tarmac SL7, but Specialized has thrown all its eggs in one basket with its lightweight, aerodynamic offering.
Stage 11: Wout van Aert – Cervélo R-Series
Belgian champion Wout van Aert proved himself to be a man for all seasons at the 2021 Tour de France with a variety of stunning stage wins.
First up, was double Ventoux day and van Aert conquered the two ascents of the Giant of Provence on a Cervélo R6… possibly.
Team Jumbo-Visma’s new, flagship, lightweight racing bike is as yet unreleased despite having first been spotted back in April.
The name is not yet confirmed – it may retain the R5 Disc moniker, which would make sense given the changes are subtle. The most obvious is integrated cables.
Whatever the name, however, Wout van Aert clearly gets on with his new steed.
Stage 12: Nils Politt – Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
It wasn’t just Mark Cavendish and Julian Alaphilippe riding to victory on the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7, with Bora –hansgrohe, another Specialized-sponsored team, also taking a win.
As such, Nils Politt was on board the same machine when he soloed to victory from the breakaway on stage 12.
Like the Deceuninck–Quick-Step riders, Bora – hansgrohe also pairs the lightweight and aero frame with a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and Roval Rapide hoops.
Stage 13: Mark Cavendish – Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
The record-equalling stage win – number 34 of Mark Cavendish’s Tour de France career – continued a dominant Tour when it came to the bunch sprints.
If Specialized had any doubts about ditching the Venge in favour of a more aerodynamic Tarmac, they have been allayed in style (though some on the BikeRadar team may still mourn its loss) by the greatest sprinter of them all.
Among Cavendish’s setup, one quirk included his satellite shifters. Cav prefers a button on the front of the bar, which he operates with his trigger finger, whereas the norm is a thumb-controlled shifter on the inside. It goes against the grain, but who are we to argue with a 34-time Tour de France stage winner?
Stage 14: Bauke Mollema – Trek Emonda SLR
The Trek Emonda SLR is another super light-weight bike that has been given an aero makeover in recent years.
Trek called the 2020 iteration its “fastest climbing bike ever”, and Bauke Mollema did nothing to dispel those claims with a long-range solo victory on stage 14.
The Emonda is a long-serving mainstay of Trek’s road range, but the lightweight frame – tipping the scales at a claimed 698g – is visually very different from previous versions.
The frame features an enhanced aerodynamic profile, with tech borrowed from the Madone.
And a stylish bike beneath the surface deserves something special on the surface too – and Mollema’s stage-winning bike boasts a beautiful shiny red finish.
Stage 15: Sepp Kuss – Cervélo R-Series
An improved R5 or the new R6; whichever it is, Team Jumbo-Visma’s new Cervélos are Tour de France stage-winning bikes.
Wout van Aert was not the team’s only successful rider. Sepp Kuss was victorious in Andorra on stage 15 too.
As well as fully integrated cables, the bike also boasts a revamped fork and a reshaped head tube – larger at the top to accommodate those cables.
Team Jumbo-Visma’s bikes all come in a team finish – matte black frame and yellow fork.
Stage 16: Patrick Konrad – Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
As with Julian Alaphilippe, Mark Cavendish and Nils Politt, Patrick Konrad also won a 2021 Tour de France stage on board a Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7.
When a brand comes out with claims such as “fastest race bike”, it is usually dismissed as the typical marketing hyperbole that accompanies any bike launch. But seven Tour de France stage wins is hard to argue with.
Stage 17: Tadej Pogačar – Colnago V3Rs
As mentioned above, so dominant was Tadej Pogačar at the 2021 Tour de France, Colnago had already rolled out a yellow bike for the Slovenian long before victory was officially confirmed.
When he won on the Col du Portet, however, there were some notable changes to Pogačar’s setup.
Most obvious was him swapping out the disc brakes he has generally favoured this year with rim brakes – the rim-brake version was not as boldly yellow as the disc equivalent, incidentally.
Stage 18: Tadej Pogačar – Colnago V3Rs
The Slovenian superstar did the same the following day and won again.
Pogačar’s V3Rs wears Campagnolo’s Super Record EPS groupset and rolls on Campag’s Bora Ultra WTO 45 wheels with Vittoria Graphene 2.0 tubeless tyres.
Low weight is the name of the game (and the likely reason for swapping to rim brakes too), and Colnago gives very little away on the weight front with a claimed 790g frame.
Stage 19: Matej Mohorič – Merida Reacto
Ahead of the final week, Merida gifted Matej Mohorič a brand-new Merida Reacto, paying tribute to his Slovenian national title.
And Mohorič repaid Merida by riding the new bike to victory on stage 19.
Naturally, in the middle of a three-week Grand Tour, the changes were purely cosmetic but it did result in an eye-catching blue, white and red colourway.
The Slovenian flag features on the seat tube, while the head tube is white, red and blue and the stem and bar are white.
Vision got in on the act too, with white, red and blue decals on the new Metron 60 Disc SL aero wheels.
Stage 20: Wout van Aert – Cervélo P5 (time-trial bike)
As we stated, Wout van Aert is the man for all seasons, and after his first victory of the 2021 race came on board the new Cervélo R-Series bike, his second was on the P5 time-trial bike.
Favoured by time triallists and triathletes alike, the P5 is the product of Cervélo’s years of experience and wind-tunnel testing.
Stage 21: Wout van Aert – Cervélo S5
Three stage wins, three different bikes… Wout van Aert completed the set on stage 21 when he sprinted to victory on the Champs-Élysées.
Cervélo claims the S5 is its fastest ever road bike – of course. It’s light, it’s aerodynamic, it’s built for improved power transfer and, as van Aert proved, it’s certainly fast.
Cervélo makes use of the SP20 Carbon Aero seatpost, AB08 handlebar and CX028 V-Stem – a two-piece cockpit, despite how it looks.
The bike is dressed in a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset with matching Dura-Ace C60 wheels.
Team Jumbo-Visma is clearly happy with what it has seen so far, having switched to Cervélo for this season, extending its partnership indefinitely.