As one of the most prestigious crowns on the road cycling calendar, the UCI Road World Championships come with enormous marketing potential for sponsors. Specialized knows this all too well, having capitalized on previous successes with custom paint jobs and limited edition collaborations, so when Julian Alaphilippe won a second straight title in the elite men’s road race in Leuven on Sunday, the Specialized team got down to work.
With the large number of spectators in Leuven at the time of Alaphilippe’s victory, there would be no better opportunity to show off the winner’s bike than in the minutes following the event. Thus, in the wake of Alaphilippe’s title defense, another race had just started, as the brand wanted to bring the winning bike back to its “Experience Center” in Leuven.
As Alaphilippe looked with certainty for victory 3 km from the finish, Leo Menville, road team liaison within Specialized’s S-Racing team, set off from the Experience Center and covered more than 2 km through Leuven to the official race podium.
However, while the mechanics of the Menville and Alaphilippe sales team speak by their first name, Alaphilippe was in Louvain to represent his country, Menville’s usual freedom of access was therefore suppressed. Menville had no contact within the French federation, so he had already sent an SMS to his contacts at Deceuninck-QuickStep, asking them to contact the French mechanics to ask them to hand over Alaphilippe’s bike on his arrival, but just as one mechanic was about to release the bike, another stepped in and canceled the discount.
In an attempt to reverse this situation, Menville then called Alaphilippe’s agent with the same request, asking him to call the French federation, explain that he is a specialist S-Racing liaison officer and allow him to take the bike. Soon after, and the good news had arrived, he had the bike.
However, the next step was to bring the bike back – the second most recognizable thing in Leuven behind Alaphilippe himself – 2 km from Leuven, through the biggest crowd the city has seen in years, with many city roads still closed. With that, Menville chose speed over stealth, found one of the newly opened roads, and hopped aboard the bike, causing it to roll backwards.
Shortly after, with the bike safe within the four walls of Specialized’s store, still covered in sweat, saliva and dust from Belgian roads, he set off again. The destination: a quiet side street that would serve as a backdrop to the photos you see here.
The bike, which does not differ from the one it used throughout the 2021 season in color scheme, is a melting pot of leading technologies with Dura-Ace Di2, Roval Rapide CLX wheels and clincher tires. Turbo Cotton. The only novelty comes in the form of an energy bar wrapper, always hastily stuffed under the saddle.
Scroll through the photos above for a more detailed look at the bike defending the World Road Championships title.
Technical specifications: Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 by Julian Alaphilippe
|Framework||Specialized tarmac SL7|
|Group||Shimano Dura-Ace R9170 Di2|
|Brakes||Shimano Dura-Ace R9170 hydraulic disc|
|Pair of wheels||Roval Rapide CLX|
|Rod||Specialized Tarmac stem (100mm)|
|Handlebar||Pro Vibe Superlight (38cm)|
|Wattmeter||Shimano Dura-Ace R9100-P|
|Pedals||Shimano Dura-Ace R9100|
|Saddle||Specialized S-Works Romin Evo|
|Tires||Turbo Specialized Cotton (26mm)|
|Computer||Wahoo Element Bolt|
|Bottle cages||Tacx Deva|
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month * Register now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for only £ 1 / $ 1 / € 1
* Read 5 free articles per month without subscription