Bikes of the Tour de France: Vincenzo Nibali, Taylor Phinney, Daryl Impey

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Vincenzo Nibali’s Merida Reacto

Team Sky is once again asserting its dominance in this year’s Tour de France (although perhaps not quite in the way people expected). With one week remaining in this year’s edition, the final general classification looks to be a three-way race (or maybe four?) between Sky co-captains Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, and Sunweb team leader Tom Dumoulin. Sadly, many of the other main protagonists are already out of the picture, including Rigoberto Uran, Richie Porte, and 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali.

Nibali’s Merida Reacto should have been the perfect machine to suit the Italian’s strengths, with its sculpted aero tube shapes and impressively low frame weight, made all the lighter by its mostly raw finish (paint is heavy), plus a trick spec highlighted by SRM’s top-end Origin carbon fiber power meter crankset and a few bits of feathery exotica from smaller boutique brands.

Actual weight is just 6.89kg, putting it bang on with the UCI’s minimum weight limit once the SRM PC8 computer head is removed.

A careless fan’s errant camera strap unfortunately brought Nibali’s dream to a hasty end on the upper slopes of l’Alpe d’Huez, leaving us to wonder how the former champion could have animated the race in its final few days.

Taylor Phinney’s Cannondale SystemSix

That Taylor Phinney is at the Tour at all is something of a miracle in and of itself. At the 2014 US national road championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Phinney was forced to swerve around a race moto on the sinuous, high-speed descent of Lookout Mountain. He crashed heavily into a guardrail, suffering a compound fracture of his left lower leg and a severed patellar tendon.

But four years later, here he is — in his second consecutive Tour de France.

This time around, Phinney is aboard Cannondale’s new SystemSix, the company’s long awaited — and long overdue — aero road bike. Phinney’s bike isn’t nearly as light as Nibali’s however, in part due to the fact that the Coloradan is far taller than the former Italian champion, and rides a 60cm frame. Phinney’s bike also wears a lot more paint (again, paint is heavy), and the bright pink and fluorescent green finish is certainly much more visible.

The icing on the visual cake is the team-exclusive direct-mount rear derailleur hanger, which is not only stouter than the stock version with its burly CNC-machined aluminum construction, but also impossible to miss given the bright pink anodizing.

Daryl Impey’s Scott Foil Disc

Few things justify an elaborate custom paint job more than a national championship, and Michelton-Scott super domestique Daryl Impey is taking full advantage of the occasion with his Scott Foil Disc.

“For the artwork, I drew inspiration from the Ndebele people,” Impey said in an article on the team’s website in June. “I chose this artwork because nobody has done this before on a bike and it represents our rainbow nation of full color. Then we have some finer details, like the warrior logo on the handlebars because in Zulu, Impey means warrior.”

Keen-eyed fans will note that Impey wasn’t actually riding this particular machine when he was in the breakaway on Stage 14, though. Each Michelton-Scott rider has their choice of three bikes for any particular stage: the Foil Disc, the rim-brake Foil, and the rim-brake Addict. Impey went with the rim-brake Foil that day, likely due to the decidedly lumpy course profile. Or then again, maybe he just didn’t want to risk scratching that lovely finish.

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