One of this year’s top favourites for the Tour is Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) who won the first stage into Plumelec and earned the first yellow jersey of this year’s Tour de France. To go along with his new maillot jaune, Valverde’s team also equipped him with a specially finished Pinarello Prince FPX.
Technically speaking, there is nothing unique on Valverde’s bike as compared to those of his Caisse d’Epargne teammates. However, it couldn’t be more different visually with its bright yellow and red paintjob to match his national flag and the words, ‘Don Alejandro‘ and ‘Prince of Spain’ boldly emblazoned on the top and down tubes. The Treviso company even supplied a yellow version of its MOst Talon integrated bar and stem, as well as a red-topped carbon MOst Tail seatpost. Campagnolo joins the party with yellow-finished Record D-Skeleton brake callipers and Elite has also chipped in with a matching pair of red-trimmed carbon Patao bottle cages.
It’s difficult to say whether his new bike makes Valverde go any faster, but when viewing the race for stage one’s finish line in Plumelec this week it certainly made him easier to spot.
Even before donning the maillot jaune, though, the recently crowned Spanish champion was already wearing special colours. Unlike previous champions of his nation – such as team-mate Jose Iván Gutiérrez – the Bala Verde’s jersey is not simply a Spanish flag with sleeves But rather more closely resembled a standard team jersey trimmed with Spanish stripes. The design – approved by the Spanish Federation – was apparently intended to be a little more stylish and elegante.
Special jersey or not, if Valverde and his Caisse d’Epargne team have their way he won’t be wearing it again until after this year’s Tour de France wraps up in Paris. No rider has held the lead from start to finish since Jacques Anquetil in 1961 but the team said they plan to change that this year.
More bike bling
Current ProTour leader Damiano Cunego (Lampre) – as an Italian man – likes to look good. Although he won’t be wearing the white jersey at this particular race, he has had his new Wilier Triestina Cento Uno painted to match. To emphasise that the white, black and silver colourway is a total one-off for the Piccolo Principe, it also bears his name on the top tube. Sure, everybody has their name on their bike, but this is no decal or sticker: the word “Cunego” sits proudly beneath the surface lacquer.