This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com
Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) is riding the Criterium du Dauphine aboard what appears to be an unreleased and unannounced Specialized Tarmac. The new frameset is vastly different from its predecessor and takes design features from both the existing Tarmac and aerodynamic Specialized Venge model.
Cyclingnews expects the Tarmac to be launched officially at the Tour de France next month alongside the latest Emonda from Trek. BMC also launched an updated Teammachine SLR01 earlier this week, while Team Sky began the 2017 season on the Pinarello Dogma F10.
Specialized has had three new frames approved by the UCI in 2017. Tom Boonen and his teammates used a rim brake Roubaix frameset during the cobbled Classics, although it is unclear if Specialized will produce this version of the frameset for general sale. In April of this year, Specialized submitted two further applications to the UCI: the Tarmac SL6 and the Tarmac 18 Disc.
It is likely that Dan Martin's frame is the Tarmac SL6 and could be available to buy for the 2018 season, alongside the disc version of the frameset.
Specialized, for obvious reasons, chose to keep its response limited when contacted: "Specialized relies on feedback from professional athletes in developing and testing advanced pre-production products in real-world applications. Thanks to this top-level feedback some of these products, or elements of their designs, eventually show up in future retail product offerings. We call this Project Black."
Under UCI rules, all frames, forks and wheels must be approved for competition in the interests of safety and fair competition. The evidence therefore points to Martin's bike being the latest Tarmac frameset.
The frameset has a more compact rear triangle than the existing Tarmac, as well as featuring bladed seatstay tubes that bear a resemblance to the Specialized Venge model. The seatstays are also located much lower on the seat tube than the current Tarmac, where the seatstays join the main triangle at the seat cluster.
Direct mount brakes are located front and rear and Martin's bike has a full Shimano Dura-Ace 9150 groupset.
The seat tube of the frame has a concaved lower section to allow tyre clearance, while the upper section is relatively short and intersects with the seat tube before a large amount of seat post is on display. Many professional riders opt for this setup of smaller frames with longer stems and more seat post creating a stiffer frameset and better power transfer.
The seat post is constructed with a 'D' profile, which is seen on a variety of manufacturers' high-end frames, but has not yet been seen on the Tarmac.
A raw matt finish is unlikely to be the final design of the frame, although the contrasting white decals that match both the Roval wheelset and Shimano groupset catch the eye.
Alongside the Specialized frameset and Shimano groupset, Martin's bike is equipped with Roval CLX 50 wheels, S-Works Turbo 26mm tubular tyres, Supacaz handlebar tape and a FSA cockpit.
Click or swipe through the gallery above for a detailed look at the new Specialized frameset.