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For some people—unless you’re a week-one breakaway specialist that knows he’ll only hold the Maillot Jaune for a day or two—going Full Yellow before the final stage in Paris is a bit of a no-no. Not so for 2020 winner Tadej Pogačar, his UAE Emirates team, nor his bike sponsor Colnago, who supplied the 22-year-old Slovenian with this beauty shortly after he took the lead in this year’s race after stage 8 to La Grand Bornand.
The yellow colorway doesn’t seem to have increased the pressure on the defending champion, though, as it carried him further away from his General Classification rivals into Tignes the following day.
Amazingly, considering the mythical status of the brand, last year was the first time a Colnago has “officially” won the Tour de France. Of course, Ernesto made frames for Eddy Merckx for at least one of his five victories, and may well have done so for others in the days when you could get away with rebranding a frame that was better than the one provided by your sponsor. This was the first time though that the legendary Italian saw his own name adorn the bike of the final Maillot Jaune.
After his black, red and gold team edition V3Rs frame, and the white one supplied for when he was wearing the Maillot Blanc for best young rider, this is already the third frame color for Tadej Pogačar in this Tour de France. It’s looking more and more likely that this is to be a successful defense of his 2020 title, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be switching back to either of those—or climbing onto a green or polka-dot one—any time soon.
Launched in 2019, the V3Rs is Colnago’s lightest and most aerodynamic frame to date, as the company continues to supply its sponsored teams with its monocoque frames, rather than the traditional, hand-built tube-and-lug frames that the brand is still synonymous with. In common with many of the top frames in this year’s peloton, Pogačar’s cables and hydraulic lines are all neatly routed through the frame, out of sight of the wind, only to emerge at the points that they are needed.
Were this year’s Tour to cross the Pavé du Nord—as it last did in 2018—Pogačar would be safe in the knowledge that his frame could accommodate tires of up to 32mm in width. This does leave a pretty big gap between the 25mm Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0 tubeless clinchers and the seat tube cut out. Though it was an almost unheard of action in the pro peloton a few years ago, UAE Emirates is another team that is eschewing tubular tires in all but exceptional circumstances.
One reason for this could be that those tires are mounted on Campagnolo’s 45mm Bora Ultra WTO Disc wheels, which are only available in tubeless/clincher “2-Way Fit” option. Although there are still some quick releases in the pro peloton, the UAE Team Emirates Colnagos come with the much stiffer thru-axels.
As UAE Emirates is one of the few teams to be sponsored by Campagnolo, Pogačar’s bike is equipped with a full Super Record EPS Disc groupset from the Vicenza, Italy, company. The one slight deviation is his Campagnolo-branded SRM power meter, which will communicate with a PC8 head unit just as soon as he clips it on. His rear wheel has an 11-29 cassette fitted; Super Record 12-speed does come with a sprocket as big as 34 teeth, but we don’t suppose that one of the world’s greatest climbers will need one of those, even with the 39/53 he has on the front.
Pogačar keeps everything under control through a Deda Elementi Alanera integrated bar and stem. It’s not a Richard Mille special edition, though, despite the decal, but UAE Team Emirates is borrowing a technique from Formula 1 in its use of a prominent point on the bike to display the logo of its Swiss watch company sponsor. He sits upon a personalized Prologo Scratch M5 saddle, which features a Slovenian flag in its logo, Pogačar’s own “stylized wolf” logo and a little yellow flash to denote that he was the winner of the 2020 Tour.
The yellow theme continues with a special edition set of Look Keo Blade Carbon Ceramic pedals, and two Elite Vico Carbon cages—although he was spotted earlier in the race using the Cittadella company’s super-light Leggero Carbon on his standard team machine.
sWhen we photographed his bike, Pogačar’s race number featured a little gold medal decal, with a number 4 in it to denote the number of Tour stages he has so far (3 in 2020, and 1 in 2021). With the Pyrénées, and a second individual time trial to come, we wouldn’t bet against this number being at least one higher by the time the race reaches Paris.