Compared to the merry-go-round that was the 2017 season, things are a lot more stable on the bike and equipment front in the WorldTour in 2018.
Last year we saw three new WorldTour teams, with IAM Cycling and Tinkoff folding, Bahrain-Merida being created, Lampre-Merida becoming UAE Team Emirates, and Bora-Hansgrohe taking the step up to the top-rung of the sport with the signing of Peter Sagan.
Along with the new teams there were new partnerships with the world’s leading bike brands. The bike sponsor merry-go-round began when UAE Team Emirates took the Lampre-Merida WorldTour licence but Bahrain-Merida retained the services of the title sponsor. UAE in turn signed up with legendary Italian brand Colnago and it is understood Specialized were a major factor in bringing Peter Sagan to Bora-Hansgrohe and thus replacing the then Pro Continental team’s bike sponsor Argon18.
2017 also saw Astana switch from Specialized to Argon18 and AG2R La Mondiale from Focus to Factor. So despite the three new teams and two new sponsorship deals, there was really only one winner and one loser: Colnago and Focus, respectively.
For the 2018 season we see a much more stable state of affairs. Every WorldTour team from 2017 stays at the top of the sport for 2018, and each team is also retaining the services of the brands that provided them with bikes this season.
During the 2017 season, Specialized, Trek, Merida, Lapierre, Cervelo, Pinarello, Colnago and BMC all launched new 2018 models, with nearly all of them available in both rim and disc brake options.
At the end of the season, while not every team had raced on disc equipped bikes, all bar BMC Racing Team and FDJ had registered a disc brake model frameset with the UCI for racing. However, with BMC training on disc brakes ahead of the season, we are likely to see much more of the controversial technology in 2018.
Cyclingnews has put together a table of all the WorldTour teams’ bike manufacturers, models, groupsets, wheels, finishing kit, power meters and other accessories.
The 2017 season marked a pivotal point in the implementation of disc brakes in the sport, with the first professional victories on a disc brake equipped bike, and the first at a Grand Tour. Whether you are for or against them, be assured that disc brakes aren’t going away anytime soon.
Trek-Segafredo have already committed to riding disc brakes at Grand Tours and Monuments in 2018, and for the WorldTour opener at the Tour Down Under the majority of the team are riding disc brake equipped Trek Emondas, which notably weigh just 30 grams above the 6.8kg minimum bicycle weight limit.
Katusha-Alpecin are one of the few teams, alongside Quick-Step Floors, Team Sunweb and Bahrain-Merida, that have already used disc brakes in the WorldTour.
BMC Racing look set to join this club in 2018 following each team member training on a BMC Teammachine SLR01 Disc at a pre season camp in Spain.
Greg Van Avermaet has been testing the disc version of BMC’s Teammachine SLR01 ahead of the seasonDaniel Benson/Immediate Media
Could we finally see the UCI ending the three-year disc brake trial and implementing standards and rules for racing with disc brakes in 2019?
Power meters and Shimano dominance
Of the 18 WorldTour teams, 14 use Shimano drivetrain components either fully or partly and a 15th team in Katusha-Alpecin use Shimano direct mount brakes along with their SRAM drivetrain.
Shimano may have the largest marketing budget, compared to the likes of SRAM or Campagnolo, but the fact that the components have such a widespread dominance at the top level of the sport speaks volumes for the brand. Not content with just groupset dominance at the WorldTour level, Shimano officially released its own power meter in 2017, although it was only FDJ who used it in the 2017 season.
For 2018, as with the dominance of groupsets from the Japanese component giant, according to Shimano five more WorldTour teams are shifting to the Shimano power meter: BMC Racing (previously SRM power meters), Michelton-Scott (previously SRM), Team Sky (previously Stages), Team Sunweb (previously Pioneer), Trek-Segafredo (previously SRM) and FDJ will continue with the Shimano power meter.
However, despite the claims from Shimano that Team Sky will use their power meters in 2018, Stages released a PR ahead of the Tour Down Under stating the British registered squad would be using their power meters for the season.
A Team Sky mechanic confirmed the team had the choice of both, but it is a unique situation to see more than one company claiming to be the team’s provider for a specific component.
In the gallery above you will see all of the 2018 WorldTour teams bikes for the season opener in Adelaide.
While the majority are specced for the upcoming season, Mitchelton-Scott confirmed the team have arrived at the race with their 2017 bikes and will switch to the updated models for the first races in Europe.
Shimano launched the update to their flagship Dura-Ace groupset back at the 2016 Tour de France and while there has been incremental integration of the components into the WorldTour, the 2018 season is the first time the Dura-Ace R9100 series outweighs Dura-Ace 9000 series components.
AG2R La Mondiale (chainrings), Katusha-Alpecin (direct mount brakes) and Mitchelton-Scott (cranksets) are the only teams that are retaining the older components at the start of the season, but we can expect Dura-Ace 9000 to be completely phased out by the end of the year.
We will update this article with images and new tech as the season gets underway.