There was a new bike in the Soudal Quick-Step paddock at the Vuelta a España: the Specialized Tarmac SL8. Released at the beginning of August, the team used it at a Grand Tour for the first time, and while it may not have carried Remco Evenepoel to overall victory like the SL7 did 12 months ago, the Belgian did at least christen his new bike with three stage wins.
While the new bike, also used by the likes of Bora-Hansgrohe, has garnered plenty of attention since its release, one bike amongst the collection stands out above the rest, and it belongs to Evenepoel.
The Belgian champion is riding a special-edition Tarmac SL8 with a new design celebrating the national title he won in June.
We got up close to the bike while at the Vuelta, and it’s got a seriously cool design.
For their national champions, teams regularly change the design of the rider’s bike to reflect the title. This can be as subtle as adding their nation’s flag, or as revolutionary as a full revamp, an option Soudal Quick-Step have taken for thier star rider.
Gone are the regular blue colours for an all-black design, barring some neat detailing, most noticeably a chequered flag wrapped around the junction between the seat tube and top tube.
On its release, Specialized said that the new design is inspired by Evenepoel’s ability to “morph – like liquid metal – into a single aerodynamic blur of man and machine”.
As the bike celebrates Evenepoel’s national championship title, it’s no surprise that the Belgian flag is one of the focal features, although it’s located at the top of the top tube and not visible from the side. It’s an understated design, but maybe it acts as inspiration for the Belgian star in moments of difficulty.
Completing the sleek top tube design, Evenepoel’s initials appear in glistening silver just above the flag near the cockpit.
Specialized hasn’t followed that understated path with the full design, pairing the colourway with red decors. The red bar tape – from his time in the red leader’s jersey at the Vuelta and later replaced by black – immediately catches the eye, but a closer inspection reveals the lengths Specialized has gone to complete the look, including a matching red K-Edge computer mount, bottle cages, and even the K-Edge chain guide hidden near the front derailleur.
Beyond the design, the bike features the Shimano Dura-Ace groupset.
Many of the components are sourced in house, including the Roval Rapide CLX wheels, paired with Specialized Turbo Cotton tyres.
The Vuelta a España may be over, but there’s still plenty of time to catch up on any racing you might have missed, with on-demand coverage and highlights available on GCN+. As for news, standings and race reports, make sure to check out our Vuelta a España landing page.
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