With 22 teams and 176 riders starting the Tour de France, the stars of the race can often get lost in the spectrum of colours within the peloton. Combine this with most teams often wearing the same helmets, sunglasses, kit and even shoes, bike manufacturers take it into their own hands for their headline riders to get the attention they deserve.
Here, we look at the top five custom-painted framesets at the 2018 Tour de France.
Peter Sagan’s Sagan Collection S-Works Venge
Launched on the eve of the French Grand Tour, Peter Sagan and Specialized unveiled the second generation of the limited-edition Sagan Collection at the Bora-Hansgrohe team press conference.
Retaining the same glitter, metallic and matte paint design, the second Sagan Collection switches from a gold design to a Mediterranean-inspired teal finish, to remind the world champion of his home overlooking the sea in Monaco, says Specialized, although we think the design conveniently works very well with the Bora-Hansgrohe’s team colours.
The glitter section of the design features three different types of flake, which represent Sagan’s three world championship victories and three bands on the chainstay denote the three cities and years they were won.
White Specialized decals on the down tube and fork legs are designed for maximum brand exposure during racing, while the consumer versions of the bikes feature subtler black decals.
The Sagan Collection is available for consumers in extremely limited numbers but do expect your wallet to feel a few grams lighter.
Mark Cavendish’s Cervelo S5
Second in the all-time list of most stage wins in the Tour de France and the race’s most successful ever sprinter, Mark Cavendish returns to the Tour after his infamous early exit last year with a freshly painted Cervelo S5 frameset.
Like Sagan’s Specialized, Cavendish’s design features various sections of fade but instead of a glitter teal, the Manxman opts for a less ostentatious white, black and chrome design with a few subtle flashes of green.
Emerald Green Chris King R45 hubs, a colour-coordinated Astute saddle, a Green KMC X11-SL chain and custom green bands on the ENVE SES Aero handlebars continue the green theme, which defines Cavendish’s own brand designs and is also the Dimension Data team colours.
As well as the custom-painted frame and colour-coordinated components, Cavendish also has custom Cavendish decals on his ENVE 4.5 SES wheels. We wouldn’t be writing off his chances of breaking Merckx’s record just yet…
Romain Bardet’s Factor O2
France lay their yellow jersey hopes in Romain Bardet. The 27 year old has finished on the podium in the last two editions of the race and will be hoping to make it to the top-step by the time the race reaches Paris.
Riding a custom white-and-blue Factor O2 during last year’s race, Bardet’s frameset has been given a silver-and-black finish for the 2018 race, with a few key features celebrating the rider’s home nation.
On the head-tube cluster, a stencilled design of the famous painting ‘Napolean Crossing the Alps’ is visible and perhaps a nod to wear Bardet hopes to take victory during this year’s race.
Alongside the custom paint of the Factor frameset, Mavic have also produced limited-edition wheels celebrating the regions of France the race travels through, while ceramic-bearings specialist CeramicSpeed has also produced a special grey-metallic OSPW over-sized pulley wheel rear derailleur upgrade for the Frenchman.
Vincenzo Nibali’s Merida Reacto
In his second season with Bahrain-Merida, Vincenzo Nibali is spending more time on the aero-specific Reacto frameset over the all-round Scultura frameset from Merida’s top of the line models.
As aero framesets have become lighter in recent years, it is understood Nibali is more than happy with the overall weight of the Reacto and took a famous victory during Milan-San Remo on the bike with an audacious attack over the Poggio.
For the Tour de France, Nibali is riding a custom-finished version of the bike celebrating the Italian’s victories at all three Grand Tours and his iconic nickname — the Shark of Messina.
The mainly raw-carbon finish of the bike is likely a further attempt to save weight, but flashes of pink, yellow and red on the down tube of Nibali’s bike reflect the three jerseys he has won by winning the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana in the past.
Glittery grey decals give a classy touch to the Merida and Bahrain decals scattered around the frame, while shark fins along the top tube in the same glittery finish pay homage to Nibali’s nickname and attacking racing style. Will we see the Shark successfully hunt yellow for the second time in this year’s race?
Michal Kwiatkowski’s Pinarello Dogma F10 X-Light
The former world champion, and another Milan San Remo winner, arrived at the Tour de France as Poland’s recently crowned national road race champion. Michal Kwiatkowski plays the role of Team Sky super-domestique for Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas as Team Sky looks to win its sixth overall yellow jersey at the Tour.
Racing aboard a custom-painted Pinarello Dogma F10 X-Light, Kwiatkowski doesn’t hold back in celebrating his recent national title with the bike commemorating the Polish national colours, as well as the national crest of the White Eagle adorning Kwiatkowski’s carbon cockpit.
Paired with the usual Shimano Dura-Ace components and wheels of Team Sky, the bike includes colour-coordinated Elite Vico Carbon bottle cages and out-front computer mount — the Pole will be easy to spot at the head of proceedings as the race enters the mountains!