S-WORKS 2016 / WHAT WE RACE INTRO
THE PRO-TEST MOVEMENT
SKIN IN TH E GAME
Specialized started S-Works to meet the demands of professional racers. Historically what racers raced was a stripped back, limit-pushing version of a product that merely resembled what you could buy. These bikes were built to be fastest to the finish line, so trade-offs were made in comfort, longevity, and required a professional mechanic or service course. Today, after four decades of investing and innovating to meet the needs of the most demanding riders, any gap between ‘fastest’ and ‘best’ has been erased. Fueled by our unequivocal passion for racing, pushed by the world’s best riders, and armed with the best facilities in the world—including the world’s only Win Tunnel— when we add the S-Works badge to our bikes and equipment, you can be certain that it is the absolute best that we know how to make.
THE PRO-TEST MOVEMENT T
he professional cyclist is an impressive and majestic creature, capable of marvelous feats of strength, grace, and sheer ‘squeeze every last wattage from the power cottage’ determination. They’re also,
occasionally, guinea pigs on bikes. This is a good thing. The feedback—and occasional odd requests—they have on bikes and equipment can affect how that final product feels and performs. Whether it’s testing tires with pro road teams like Etixx-Quickstep, or spending a year working with Boels-Dolman’s Evelyn Stevens to perfect the S-Works Power Saddle, pro testing of Specialized products leads to innovations and improvements that can benefit all riders.
WEIRD IN A GOOD WAY For mere cycling mortals, the idea of generating
although you obviously weren’t strong enough
enough raw power to pull the heel of your foot
or fast enough to experience the negative as he
from your shoe while pedaling is mind-boggling,
was, you can experience the positive. And once
but for Alberto Contador, it was a legitimate thing.
you can feel the benefit, you realize that it’s a
“It’s interesting when you get riders talking
change that will actually be good for many riders.”
about something that you can’t fully experience yourself,” says Rob Cook, Design Director
In this case, a performance-enhancing request
of Footwear at Specialized, recalling when
from a pro athlete led to a more consistent heel
Contador first came to him with the request
fit in the new S-Works 6 and Sub 6 road shoes.
for a better heel fit in his shoe. “You wonder
This kind of scenario—where a pro rider requests
to yourself: ‘how the heck do you move in a
a change for their specific need—occurs across
way that lifts your heel out of a cycling shoe?’
all disciplines and products. Whether it’s the fit of
You just can’t totally comprehend it at first.”
a shoe or the grip of a tire on a specific surface, athletes always want to find ways to improve
“Sometimes you have to actually build the
their performance, and testing new innovations
shoe to get it,” he says. “Then you realize that,
and materials is part of that story.
“When it comes to tires,” says Wolf VormWalde, Director of Tires and Tubes, “sometimes you’ll get a rider with a special request. For example, with the mountain team looking at different terrain from one race to the next, we’ll sit down with riders like Aaron Gwin, or Anneke Beerten and Curtis Keene, and we’ll talk about tires and what they need from them. Then we work towards meeting those needs—translate them into product specifications like new tread patterns for mountain or compounds for road and mountain—then test the samples with the athletes. And if that goes well, they’ll use those tires.” But specific rider requests are just one side of the athlete testing coin. Product developers will sometimes want to test new technologies or materials and get feedback from the pros. Here, the testing sessions can seem a little more…mysterious. To get from-the-hip feedback, sometimes sleight of hand has to be involved so as to not plant preconceived ideas that’ll mess with the findings. “We won’t tell the athletes what makes each tire different during the tests,” says VormWalde. “A few months ago, for example, we had the mountain guys ride a course multiple times, testing different tires to give feedback. So let’s say we know one tire should behave softer over small ripples, the other maybe a little firmer, and the third one has a very firm, hard casing but maybe gives you more safety at higher speed when the hits become hard. But the athletes don’t know any of this—we need to see if their feedback matches up with what we think should happen with each tire.” So how do you keep an athlete in the dark?
“To tell each tire apart, sometimes you write a number on the side, or sometimes we use dots,” he says, describing how they keep track of which tire is which. “But these markings can become a problem, too, because some of these racers are very….” he pauses, searching for the right word. “Like, they’ll say, ‘I test rode a tire with a number two on it. I gotta have the tire with the two’. They’ll get a new sample and notice it doesn’t have the two on it. But it was just handwriting with a marker that we did on the test day.” The feedback itself is a mix of anecdotal and raw data, depending on the discipline. “In mountain,” says VormWalde, “the environment and the courses change so much it’s hard to express in numbers, so that’s more ‘feel’ based. But with road, a lot of time the feedback comes from the technical staff after velodrome testing. They’ll come back with power numbers and values. Comparing certain tires on certain wheels and how many seconds faster a tire is.” “Of course, road teams also come back with more anecdotal feedback when it comes to handling. That’s then similar on the road as it is in mountain.” One thing is clear when talking to both Rob and Wolf—pro athletes are in a league of their own. The issues they encounter and the conditions
“WE WON’T TELL THE ATHLETES WHAT MAKES EACH TIRE DIFFERENT DURING THE TESTS, WE HAD THE MOUNTAIN GUYS RIDE A COURSE MULTIPLE TIMES, TESTING DIFFERENT TIRES TO GIVE FEEDBACK.” - WOLF VORMWALDE, DIRECTOR OF TIRES AND TUBES
they perform under are extreme and can help find problems with products quickly. They’re also, as Wolf puts it ‘super fit’—a definite advantage if you’re going to ask someone to ride the same course over and over and over again. “Christoph Sauser?” he says. “He can just ride a two kilometer or two mile loop all day and not be too phased by the effort.”
THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA Pro cyclist Evelyn Stevens will be the first to tell
“We created probably two or three saddles that
you that she has a reputation as a bit of a saddle
allowed us to test certain things with her. One
princess. But it’s this quality—her sensitivity to any
was nose length; another was foam density and
saddle that’s just a little bit ‘off’—that made her
curvature in the back of the saddle. It helped us
the perfect candidate for working with the saddle
narrow the tree down and decide which direction
team on the S-Works Power saddle development.
we wanted to go with the Power saddle. She had some things she specifically liked, so we found a
“I’ve always voiced my opinion when something’s
version that worked with her during testing, and
not right,” she says, “and I just wanted a saddle
she ended up riding it full-time.”
where I could be in an aggressive position and still be comfortable.”
These early prototypes are not always the most beautiful, particularly the final prototype
Evie’s initial involvement with testing and the saddle
that she liked.
team began with the Sitero saddle. Her feedback on positioning while using that particular saddle
“It was a hacked up thing.” Gosseen screws
converged naturally with work the team was doing
up his face when describing the aesthetic glory
developing a new road saddle that put the rider in a
of it. “I mean it looked so terrible it looked like
more ‘power’ position.
something that someone did in their backyard or back garage or whatever.”
“The best thing about Evie is that she would give the test saddles time,” says Nick Gosseen, then head
Fortunately, the final production of the S-Works
of saddle development. “She’d take prototypes
Power saddle is much more beautiful, and as a
and test them for a week or a month then give us
thank you to Evie for all of her valuable feedback
feedback, and she knows pretty quickly what she
during testing, the saddle team created a one-off
wants and is able to articulate it clearly.”
Power saddle for her.
The process of tweaking the saddle after each
“For me,” says Evie, looking at the saddle. “Red
round of feedback sounds a little McGuyver-ish
is a symbol of power and strength. When I look
to the initiated, but these quick-turnaround tweaks
at it, that’s what I think. It says, be strong and be
made it easier to test and re-test until a more
powerful when you get on your bike today.” And as
perfect, final version of the saddle emerged.
for being part of the testing process?
“In the beginning,” says Gosseen, “it was just
“I think because we race it, and ride it, and we pay
cutting up production saddles and refining them—
such close attention to our bodies, we’re able to
and I mean literally using X-Acto knives, epoxy,
give good feedback. And in the end, that means
anything you could to give the saddle structural
someone who just wants to ride their bike a couple
stability so that Evie could ride and test it safely.
of days a week can get benefit from that.”
“I RODE SOME REALLY WEIRD STUFF. FORTUNATELY, I’M NOT TOO CONCERNED ABOUT HOW COOL I LOOK.” – EVELYN STEVENS, ON POWER SADDLE DEVELOPMENT
FAIL HARDER It sounds strange to say it, but some of the testing
they’re usually pretty old and limited. Mountain
robots in the Test Lab at Specialized headquarters
bikes, for example, only have one standard. But
in Morgan Hill are such fans of professional
think about it—there are multiple kinds of mountain
athletes that they model their entire lives on them.
bikes. We have cross country, enduro, downhill,
And their dedication to replicating real life in a lab
and all of these are different. So if you test a
environment is good for you, because it means
downhill bike to the minimum standard, it won’t
safer bikes for everyone.
always do a good job. That’s why we invest time in creating our own standards and tests to meet the
The Test Lab is a constant metronomic hum of
specific conditions we intend the bike to see.
activity, with each machine set to perform single, specific tasks, over and over and over again,
“And that’s where the athlete comes in. We gather
simulating something that happens in real life, but
data from them—athletes from within the building
in a controlled way.
and the pros—and that data can tell us the forces that a frame sees, for example. So when you’re
“For example, this machine here,” says Santiago
developing a test, you’re trying to match those
Morales, Test Lab Manager, is saying ‘Brake!
forces in the frame, but in this artificial set up. The
Brake! Brake! Brake! Brake!’ while that one is
athletes are usually the ones who put the highest
going ‘Pedal! Pedal! Pedal! Pedal!’ but with all the
demands on a product, so by taking that, and
intensity of the hardest part of an all-out sprint.”
understanding what that athlete performing at the highest level needs, we can use those numbers
Scanning the room, these robotic machines are
to backtrack and design a test that replicates that
everywhere, testing everything from frame integrity
situation. So testing is a combination between the
to wheel strength. One is set to simulate failing to
data we get from the athletes, the research we do
lift a wheel over an obstacle and hitting it hard,
into extreme riding conditions.”
while another mimics completely casing a jump. Wheels are put through their paces, with machines
One of the ways they collect data is through what’s
set to test rim heat while braking on the longest
called a ‘strain gauge’ bike.
descent ever, or hitting a bump at 35kph over and over again. Extreme cases for sure, but in order to
“Sagan rode this,” he says, referring to a silver-
set up these tests on each machine, you first must
grey bike covered in sensors and hanging on a wall
understand what happens in real life and work your
of the lab. “Each one of these sensors measures
way back to create the test parameters—and that’s
how much a tube in the frame is stretching, then
where lab testing and athletes come together.
you can back calculate the load that it’s seeing. So when you have an athlete ride this bike, you’re
“The first thing to know,” says Morales, “is that
measuring how it’s reacting to his riding style. Then
international standards for bikes are intended for
we can take all that data and create something that
ensuring minimum safety, and those standards
replicates it for a test.”
As Morales is talking, a call goes out in the lab: ‘Breaking!’ Everyone covers their ears as a mountain bike frame succumbs to ‘seat tube ultimate strength’, a test that simulates a botched, hard landing. Products die sudden and important deaths here, with each sacrifice marked with an epitaph of sorts. He picks up a piece of a Roval wheel to show the words ‘brake heat to fail’ scrawled on the side. “We break a lot of stuff in here,” says Morales, laughing. “And that’s no joke.”
Professional athletes wear many hats in their lives. They’re heroes to kids and adults alike, slayers of
“SCANNING THE ROOM, THESE ROBOTIC MACHINES ARE EVERYWHERE, TESTING EVERYTHING FROM FRAME INTEGRITY TO WHEEL STRENGTH.”
epic mountain stages, and fearless descenders of way-to-steep rock gardens. But it’s not all about podium steps and champagne showers. Through their willingness to try things that might give them the edge, they play a part in helping to make bikes and equipment faster, safer, and better for all of us for the one thing that really matters—the ride.
to start working on your victory celebrations.
our proprietary Zero-Drag brakes. Add to this the blistering responsiveness and rigidity of its Rider-First Engineered™ frame, and all that’s left is
over 40km. Every tube shape has been optimized and designed to work as a system with the aerodynamic benefits of the new CLX 64 wheels and
be the fastest bike we’ve ever made. The result of almost 1000 hours spent in our very own Win Tunnel is a bike that can save you 120 seconds
When we set out developing the new S-Works Venge ViAS, we expected it to be faster than the original. What we didn’t expect was that it would
V E N G E V I A S
rider possessed, this is the tire for anyone who demands nothing short of the best.
Kwiatkowski take home 2014 World Championship on a rain-slicked attack. So no matter if youâ€™re climbing with the best of them or descending like a
tire weâ€™ve ever made, but the fastest tire in the world. It features an extremely low rolling resistance and superior cornering traction that helped Michal
The S-Works Turbo Tire sets the standard for how a performance road tire should perform. Itâ€™s fast, light, and supple, making it not only the fastest
T U R B O T I R E S
much power as they can while racing.
performance saddle is designed to help you perform at your best and is engineered to cater to both men and women seeking to generate as
when getting down in a more aggressive “power” position on the bike. Extremely lightweight with a stiff, FACT carbon shell and rails, this high-
the two—not any more. The S-Works Power Saddle is designed to give you back all the wattage you deserve, and all the comfort you need
Where does it say that in order to be powerful on your bike, you must sacrifice being comfortable? Sadly, it’s always been a trade off between
P O W E R S A D D L E
The S-Works Sub6 Shoes are the lightest, most aerodynamically advanced shoes that we’ve ever produced. They feature a traditional lacing
seconds over 40 kilometers in comparison to the previous S-Works Road shoes.
reduce drag by producing a clean airflow over the shoe. And when combined with the all-new PadLock™ heel system, you’re able to save up to 35
system that cuts down on weight, while the Warp Sleeve™ lace cover, which is a sleeve worn directly over the laces, is Win Tunnel Engineered to
S U B 6 S H O E S
SKIN IN THE GAME I
t’s easy to become consumed with romantic notions when you think of how clothing is made, but this isn’t reality TV or a Helvetica-defaced design blog. Design is a reality devoid of stereotypes and preconceptions. It’s the
clothing business, after all, and we’re talking about the fastest skinsuit ever made. So take off the rose-colored glasses and get a front row seat for how something of the S-Works Evade Skinsuit’s caliber actually comes to life.
It all starts with a question: How can we better
of jeans segmented into an eight-piece jigsaw
serve the rider’s needs, especially when that
puzzle. Each of the pieces comprises the total
need is to go faster? It’s a simple question with an
pattern, with each serving as the basis for the
answer that can take years to arrive at. And in the
precise shape and measurement of how the
case of the S-Works Evade skinsuit, it would take
textiles will be cut for the finished product. Now,
three years of concept, design, testing, and repeat.
multiply this figure by three or four, and you can
Repeat again, and again, and then some more.
begin to grasp the complexity of developing the
But before this cycle of birth can even begin, the
pattern for a skinsuit. And to continue the puzzle
skinsuit had to find its legs on a computer by the
simile, every one of these pieces has to be cut
window, past the security door, on the second floor
precisely in order for the puzzle to come together
of a sizeable building in Morgan Hill, California. And
as intended. In the clothing business, pattern
while the tag might befittingly declare, “Designed
making is one of the most time consuming and
in California,” it would be apropos if this was
difficult aspects of producing a garment, and
proceeded with “by” and the names of the hands
many clothing producers will opt to outsource this
that molded it to form, like Anna, McKenzie, and
responsibility, with a broadly worded vision, to a
Peter. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
manufacturer. Obviously, this production strategy wasn’t in harmony with the vision of our skinsuit.
Now the foundation of any article of clothing
Instead, we’re equipped to perform the entire
is called a pattern. Imagine your favorite pair
process in-house in Morgan Hill.
“IT ALL STARTS WITH A QUESTION: HOW CAN WE BETTER SERVE THE RIDER’S NEEDS, ESPECIALLY WHEN THAT NEED IS TO GO FASTER?”
hit our lofty aerodynamic goals. This is where we find ourselves at a distinct advantage over any other cycling apparel designer in the world: we have our own cycling-specific wind tunnel just a short walk down the street. Normally, if a skinsuit is even tunnel-tested at all, design houses have to book a limited, precious amount of time at a tunnel that’s far removed from their own facilities. They’ll block out a short, expensive chunk to hurriedly test working prototypes, and then return home to the drawing board with what they learned to make adjustments. And without getting too into the weeds on the cost of production cycles, most companies only possess the resources to repeat this process a couple If you are familiar with engineering or industrial
of times, if at all. Where the Evade’s advantage
design, you’re probably familiar with a computer-
lies is that we’re able to integrate tunnel testing
modeling program called CAD (computer-aided
into the design process, as we have the unique
design). Essentially, CAD allows designers to
ability to utilize the facility whenever we want.
precisely plot points of a design to create an exact
So you could almost say that the skinsuit was
digital model. For pattern design, we possess
designed in the Win Tunnel, or as we say, it’s
similar software that allows our designers to digitally
Win Tunnel Engineered.
create garment patterns with an unbelievable degree of specificity. This tool is critical, as it
To demonstrate the importance of this, we tested
accelerates the speed of adjustments throughout
hundreds of potential fabrics on cylinders in the tunnel
the trial and error of the production process. It also
in order to determine their aerodynamic potential.
allowed us to better accommodate and design
And once potential materials were selected, they
for the natural degrees of stretch in the various
were incorporated into the computer modeling. This
fabrics that compromise the skinsuit. Which leads
is vital, as fabric will have a different denier (linear
us to an important point in the design: fabric
mass density of fiber) and fiber orientation, and
testing and selection.
thus, different degrees of stretch. So when creating the pattern, we’re capable of placing and shaping
Before a prototype can be constructed, or even
materials in a predictable way that enhances both
before the digital pattern can be completed,
aerodynamics and overall fit. Fast-forward a few
prospective fabrics had to be tested in our
months of this back-and-forth, and the digital pattern
Win Tunnel in order to make sure that we could
is ready to become a prototype.
Just downstairs from the design team resides our apparel studio. It’s here that the digital becomes tangible. The computer-modeled patterns are printed and cut to scale, and then the team can begin cutting the preselected fabrics to size. From here, the obvious step is to start constructing these pieces by hand into a prototype, and then getting the working skinsuit onto a fit model for observation and further adjustments. Here is where we hold yet another advantage, and it’s not an obvious one. Every day, the mass of Specialized employees converge on the streets of Morgan Hill for our legendary Lunch Ride. So in the morning, a prototype can be assembled and fit, tested on the Lunch Ride, feedback is provided, and by the end of the afternoon, an augmented proto is ready to be tested again. This ensures that we’re able to dial-in the fit of the suit, first and foremost, which amounts to adjustments of sleeve lengths, leg openings, zippers, chamois placement—you name it. And with a working model that the team and riders are happy with, it’s back to the Win Tunnel for the bulk of the aerodynamic testing. This is where the breakthroughs happen, and it’s where the fulfillment of our initial design dreams occurs. Much like with the Venge ViAS, we deemed no detail of the skinsuit too small when marginal gains were ripe for the taking. This meant manipulating the design based on testing information gathered in the tunnel. So perfecting seam placement for the closest possible fit, strategically positioning Dimplex fabric at the shoulders, welding seams, eliminating bulky cuffs at the arm openings—think of it, and we probably did it in the Win Tunnel.
This testing also led to pivotal breakthroughs, many of which had never been done before. Take for example the Evade’s shoulder construction, where you’ll notice the absence of a frontal seam. Typically, this part of a jersey requires the arms to be their own separate pieces, and this equates to more seams and a less precise fit. Our testing suggested that by eliminating this seam altogether, the skinsuit would experience significant aerodynamic gains.
“SO YOU COULD ALMOST SAY THAT THE SKINSUIT WAS DESIGNED IN THE WIN TUNNEL, OR AS WE SAY, IT’S WIN TUNNEL ENGINEERED.”
This resulted in our patented design, but more importantly, after years of testing in the Win Tunnel, adjusting the designs digitally and in the studio, and receiving season-after-season of real world feedback from our athletes in the field, we can conclusively say that the S-Works Evade Skinsuit will save the average rider 96 seconds over 40 kilometers. So like with all great products, there comes a time where they have to grow up and become finished pieces in the factory. However, we found that factories with the ability to meet our exacting standards were far and few between. Typically, the designers will ship off the patterns to the manufacturers, where they’ll create and evaluate the production process. Oddly enough, though, many manufacturers will take certain liberties with the design in order to streamline production with the capability of their facilities. Given the specificity of our design, this complicated production for us, plus the fact that our intentions were to create an 11-size range of the skinsuit. The last bit there is of particular importance, because the large size range, which includes Short, Standard, and Tall variants in every size, ensures that the fit on the rider’s body is exactly how we tested it in the Win Tunnel. The result? Predictable and evenhanded time savings for every rider. And after years of toilsome work, we weren’t about to let a manufacturer take a millisecond away from the rider’s 96 seconds of gains. So, not surprisingly, our pursuit of perfection led us to the Motherland of exquisitely crafted goods—Italy for our R&D. There, we found a partner that was capable of delivering our vision to the world with the utmost in detail accounted for, suit after suit after suit.
“WE WEREN’T ABOUT TO LET A MANUFACTURER TAKE A MILLISECOND AWAY FROM THE RIDER’S 96 SECONDS OF GAINS.”
It’s a long road to perfection, and sure, it’s not as glamorous as a celebrity panel of judges or a runway show at Fashion Week, but the S-Works Evade Skinsuit embodies everything that we know—passion, motivation, obsessiveness, aerodynamics, and good ol’ fashioned hard work. It represents what happens when talent motivates talent, a team pushing itself harder and harder along each step of the way. More importantly, however, the years of hard work produced the fastest piece of cycling clothing ever made, and this only stands to benefit any rider that’s hellbent on speed. We did our part, and before we know it, we’ll probably be doing it again.
“THE YEARS OF HARD WORK PRODUCED THE FASTEST PIECE OF CYCLING CLOTHING EVER MADE.”
kilometers in comparison to a jersey and bib shorts.
combine all of these features with fatigue- and temperature-reducing engineered materials, you get a skinsuit thatâ€™ll save you 96 seconds over 40
all of this adds to a sleeker aerodynamic profile, we also incorporated Dimplex fabric at the shoulders to further reduce pressure drag. So when you
providing a next-to-custom level of fit via cuff-less, welded sleeve openings, 11 size offerings, and a patent-pending seamless shoulder. And while
An imprecise fit results in fabric bunching, and fabric bunching equates to lost seconds. So to remedy this, the S-Works Evade Skinsuit focuses on
E V A D E S K I N S U I T
THE RINGMASTER R
oll up, roll up! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of allllll ages. Ready your thirsty eyes for the magnificent spectacle you are about to witness. Prepare to experience moments of sheer disbelief as you
view the most outrageous displays of awe-inspiring strength and courage. Steel your lungs to hoot and holler wildly as fearless bicycle tamers perform great feats of daring on the sides of rugged mountains. Gasp in delight and amazement as agile daredevils hurl themselves down the most treacherous descents, sure to make you soil your undergarments just a little bit. Roll up, roll up! Welcome to the Fastest Show on Earth.
If you’ve ever witnessed a circus roll into town,
Benno is a textbook definition of what it means to
you’ll know that it’s a game of logistical Tetris.
work your way to the top. His first job in mountain
A convoy of trucks stuffed with performers,
bike racing, thirteen years ago, was to drive the
equipment, and supplies arrives at the edge of
truck and pitch in with wrenching on Christoph
town, searching for that sweet spot to erect the
Sauser’s then team, Siemens-Cannondale. He
Big Top and set up camp, all the while ensuring
readily confesses that at that time, he knew
the monkeys aren’t parked too close to the
absolutely nothing about how to fix a bike and
lions. As an audience, we never see the strings
describes the experience as ‘like being dropped
being pulled to make this happen, nor the person
into a cold river’—a shock to the system and a
pulling them. We happily pay no attention to the
man behind the curtain because the show is so good. The performances, sublime. For Benno
“I didn’t even know how to take the pedals off,”
Willeit, the Specialized Racing (Mountain) Team
he says, a fact made all the more impressive when
Manager, orchestrating the arrival of the team to
you learn that just three years later, when he and
an event can sometimes feel like rolling a circus
Sauser joined the Specialized Racing team, he
to town. But in his case, the lion tamers, trapeze
was by then Christoph’s personal mechanic.
artists, acrobats, and clowns just happen to be world-class cross country and downhill athletes.
“I also didn’t speak any English when I started,
The equipment, high-performance S-Works
which made it even harder. But I always said,
products. And Benno? Well, he’s just the man
‘it’s just a bike’. Somebody designed it and it’s
behind the curtain. The ultimate Ringmaster to
made by humans, so you just need to figure it out.
the Fastest Show on Earth.
You have to put in the effort.”
“Actually,” he adds, pondering just how he made
team truck. When it rolls out of headquarters in
the transition from a know-nothing driver to the
Holzkirchen, Germany, it’s ‘all-aboard’ for athletes,
only mechanic Sauser trusted with his bike, “now
mechanics, soigneurs, bikes, equipment, food, and
that I think about it, it’s more passion than effort.”
all the items needed to keep a team performing— and relaxing—at a World Cup. Once parked and
Passion. It’s a word that comes up a lot with Benno,
unloaded at the event, tents and canopies pop up
and not just his passion for racing and motivating
to form what could be described as a mini team
the riders to perform at their best. Like a true
village, complete with a lounge area and large TV
ringmaster—a conduit for facilitating experience—
where athletes and staff can kick back and relax
he’s also a valuable link between the team and the
during down time at a race.
Specialized engineers responsible for the very products they ride.
Mechanics tend to the fleet of bikes, fine-tuning everything from Annika Langvad’s Era and Kate
“With the format, courses, and conditions
Courtney’s Fate, to Jaroslav Kulhavy’s Epic and
changing every year,” he says, “you always want
Aaron Gwin’s season-crushing Demo, to ensure
to be ahead of the competition. You don’t want
they’re dialed and race ready. The atmosphere
to give them an inch. Sometimes that means
is calmly professional, while still being light
tweaking something or developing something
and jovial—an air often credited to Benno’s
completely new, and I need to make sure that
the engineers understand that we need to have that kind of equipment to stay at the top. So I’ll
“The incredible thing that Benno does,” says
follow up with them, and as soon as they have
Ned “The Lung” Overend, “is help create an
prototypes, we’ll do some testing and give
environment where athletes can relax and focus
feedback again. It’s always together, trying to
on their performance. He’s kind of selfless in the
find the best product for what we do. The whole
way he puts the athletes first, because it can be
package with Specialized is just overwhelming
very stressful for them and they often put a lot
and it’s so cool to work for a company like that,
of pressure on themselves. Feeling relaxed is so
where everybody you work with or you talk to,
important—it makes a big difference.”
shares the same passion.” “He’s also very versatile,” adds Gavin Noble, The convoy formed by the Specialized Mountain
Global Sports Marketing Director, “and his
Team as they head to races is a spectacle to behold.
personality is such that he’s always happy and
In Europe, it typically consists of two sprinters,
positive. Everyone knows and trusts him, and
two minivans, and one large and eye-catching
everyone has that respect for him.”
“I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO TAKE THE PEDALS OFF.” - BENNO WILLEIT
With the team’s success—and this season has been incredibly successful with Aaron Gwin clinching the World Cup overall in downhill, stellar performances in cross country with Annika Langvad winning her first World Cup, and another Cape Epic wins for Sauser and Kulhavy just to name a few—comes the desire to stay at that high level. It’s not just athletes who want to win. “We push each other all the time to do better,” says Benno, talking about the staff that supports the athletes. “To be at that level at all means things are going smoothly, so the mechanics are under pressure, too.” He pauses and chuckles, adding, “I mean we still give John Hall (Gwin’s mechanic) shit about the chain that Aaron broke in Leogang. We make sure that everybody is on top of things, but we always also keep it fun.” This movable feast of athletic prowess doesn’t just magically appear at races. In fact, planning for the following season and determining what and who is going where and when, starts well before the current season is even close to being done. Brace yourself for a logistics whirlwind as Benno shares a brief glimpse into how it all comes together. “As soon as the event calendar arrives from the UCI [typically in July], the planning starts. I already know when the Cape Epic is in 2016, I know where the first World Cup is going to be, and the Olympics, so right away you have to start with the equipment because we need to pre-order all the stuff. Dylan van der Merwe handles all our team equipment, and he needs to know where everything has to be sent, so as soon as I know, he knows. So I say to Dylan, ‘Ok, we need to get stuff to the Cape Epic, so please send two hundred tires down there for the beginning of the season’ and then there’ll be the World Cup in Cairns, and it’s the same process. So stuff like that.”
across multiple disciplines with the remaining number support staff), Benno’s role becomes one of people wrangler and problem solver. “It’s hard to balance all of those personalities,” says Gavin Noble. “It’s a unique team in that we’re the only team to have both downhill and cross country athletes. So you might have Kate Courtney and Lea Davison at one end of the dinner table having a rap battle, while at the other end Troy Brosnan’s Of course, everyone needs somewhere to sleep;
playing games on his phone. You’ve got mechanics
so booking also has to happen straight away if you
and soigneurs, young riders and really experienced
want to get a good spot for the team. There’s a
ones sitting all together, and he’s balancing it all.
little more wiggle room with rider and staff travel
He speaks Italian, he speaks German, and he
logistics, particularly since contracts with S-Racing
speaks English really well. It’s really something.”
are typically not finalized until December, so flights will be organized at the beginning of the season.
“I think the secret is that you can’t run the team
Benno proudly explains how he’s become quite
your way,” says Benno. “That’s just not gonna’
good at working out the perfect time to fly in to
work. It can’t be just your way and it can’t be just
an event so as to leave enough time for riders to
the rider’s way, right? You have to find the fine
adapt to time changes and not be tired when it
balance between upsetting somebody and making
comes to race day.
someone very happy. It’s a compromise. You look out for what the rider needs, what the staff needs,
Even after the team is on the ground, riders picked
and you have to somehow wiggle it together and
up from airports, and bikes dialed and ready, the
make it work for everybody.
insanity is not over. There’s dinners to be organized, room allocations to me made, schedules worked
“There are some rules of course,” he explains.
out, like how to get everyone to the same place,
“Like a rider can’t think that it’s OK to drop their
driving the right vehicles, with the right bikes, and
bike off at 5 o’clock in the evening and expect it to
on and on it goes.
be ready the next morning at 7 o’clock. It doesn’t work like that. But I’m very open with it. It’s not like
“You know,” he says, “sometimes I think talking
an army, it’s more like a family, you know. And in a
about it is more of a headache than actually
family the nice thing is that you can give each other
just doing it.”
shit without being mad at each other. And that’s what I try to have in the team.”
It’s said that one of Benno’s greatest skills is balance—the ability to keep different
It’s also about managing the performance expectations
personalities existing in the same space
of individual athletes throughout the season; of
harmoniously while also juggling all the moving
motivating them to push themselves. It’s celebrating
pieces of the puzzle. With up to 20 people on
wins, and dealing with the losses, even when those
the team, depending on the event (eleven riders
losses might not have anything to do with a race.
“There have been years where things were not so good, especially with what happened with Burry,” says Benno, talking about the training accident that claimed the life of popular teammate and cross country rider, Burry Stander, at the start of 2013. “You know, everybody from the mechanics to the soigneurs, and me as a team manager—all you try to do is to make the rider’s life as easy as possible by having everything as organized as you can. Riders on your team become like your brother or your sister. You suffer with them, you laugh with them, and go through ups and downs, so it’s very emotional as well. What happened to Burry; you don’t wish anything like that on your family, or a team, not to anyone. But you also have to face it again. You need to be there for the riders again, and so you’re like, OK, I can’t change anything. So let’s at least make sure we make him proud, we don’t forget about him. Let’s keep going ahead and be happy again, because it’s the only way.” There is no denying the importance of a good support staff, led by an effective and respected manager. They can create calm where there is panic, defuse drama and disarm stress to keep a team functioning at its best. This juggle to create an atmosphere of harmony extends as far as being able to recognize which personalities complement each other, a key instinct when it comes to something as simple as assigning roommates.
“THE INCREDIBLE THING THAT BENNO DOES, IS HELP CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE ATHLETES CAN RELAX AND FOCUS ON THEIR PERFORMANCE...” - NED “THE LUNG” OVEREND
“It’s not everybody you can put in a room together,” says Benno. “You can try different combinations but next time they might have to share with someone else, so you have to be able to feel the vibe in the team as well, and then act on it. I don’t know if there’s like a specific formula to being a good at this, or being a team manager,” he says. “To be honest, I don’t even know what I’m doing half of the time!” [laughs loudly]
“IT’S ALWAYS A TEAM OF PEOPLE. YOU’RE NEVER ALONE—THERE ARE ALWAYS PEOPLE YOU CAN ASK. AND I’M NOT SCARED OF ASKING, BECAUSE YOU CAN’T KNOW EVERYTHING, YOU KNOW?” - BENNO WILLEIT
While that’s highly unlikely, Benno will be the first to admit he’s not doing it all himself, particularly since he took on role of managing the downhill team as well this season. For this reason, he leans heavily on people like Claire Rushworth for flights and accommodation, and Kandice Buys for some of the organizational aspects of the cross country team. “As overall Team Manager, I still have to oversee it all, just to make sure everybody knows what’s going on. Who needs to do what, who’s going where for feed zones and tech zones at a race, who’s with the athletes and things like that.” More
transitioning from his role as a professional rider to be more of a rider/coach for the cross country athletes. “He’s very important now for us,” says Benno, “because he has so much experience and can show them lines, and help the youngsters to grow fast, to grow better, to make fewer mistakes. So it’s not just me doing everything,” he says. “It’s always a team of people. You’re never alone— there are always people you can ask. And I’m not scared of asking, because you can’t know everything, you know?” Maybe it’s his background in construction? Maybe it’s his relentlessly cheerful and calming demeanor? Or maybe Benno Willeit is just a born Ringmaster of bike racing circus troupes that just happen to be the fastest team in the world right now. Roll up, roll up. Welcome to the Fastest Show on Earth.
E P I C
XC World Championships, Olympic Gold, more Cape Epic wins than we can count—if a bike were the sum of its accolades, the Epic would sit atop the throne. But we tend to think that a bike is the sum of its parts. After all, when you make the world’s fastest cross country mountain bike, those wins come naturally. To make sure of it, the Epic features our proven 29er Geometry and legendary FSR suspension. And to take FSR’s active and independent design a step further, we include our exclusive Mini Brain Rear Shock that’s engineered to read the terrain for the perfect, most efficient ride possible. The result? The Epic puts out more speed, control, and ultimately, more wins, than any other XC bike out there. It doesn’t get any faster.
H T S T U M P J U M P E R
Make no mistake about it—cross country racing is all about speed. So when it comes time to pick your bike, you need an agile weapon that delivers nothing short of blistering speed on the flats, climbs, and descents. Lucky for you, our Stumpjumper Hardtail answers the call. It has countless World and National Championships on its resume, and with an aggressive geometry that’s dialed-in for precise handling at race speeds, it’s easy to see why.
F S R S T U M P J U M P E R
Mountain biking has come a long way since the Stumpjumper first debuted in 1981, but one thingâ€™s stayed the same for decades: The Stumpjumper FSR is the ultimate trail bike. And this year, it solidifies its position as the best handling and most efficient trail bike in history, with revolutionary new technology like our proprietary Rx Trail shock tune, fully integrated SWAT technology, 650b and 29er options, the shortest chainstays of any trail bike out there, and an even slacker, trail-eating geometry. Add it all up, and you have a bike thatâ€™s ready for anything that the trail can throw at it
F A T E
Playful. Nimble. Fiesty. Cheeky words that fit the fast-as-fury S-Works Fate to a T. It would be a mistake, however, to assume this high-spirited bike isn’t serious about racing hard. Kate Courtney and Lea Davison would no doubt add the words “race dominator” to this list, having won multiple races aboard this bike, and as our lightest women’s hardtail, the S-Works Fate is a clear choice for pure efficiency and performance. Whether racing XC or shredding local trails, the Fate responds enthusiastically to your every whim and is equipped with the most cutting-edge components, an 80mm RockShox RS-1 Brain fork, and the super-lightweight, World-Championship-winning carbon Roval Control SL wheelset. No doubt about it—Fate is calling your name.
E R A
Is it moxie? Is it hutzpah? Is it enough raw speed to guarantee motion blur? Actually, the all-new S-Works Era embodies all of these qualities, but with some barely contained “let’s do this!” enthusiasm mixed in. Designed and engineered to be the fastest, lightest, and best-fitting women’s full-suspension XC machine, the S-Works Era features FSR suspension, the RockShox RS-1 Brain shock, and lightweight Roval Control SL wheels. As the only woman’s XC bike that dynamically reads terrain for everything from uphill sprints to singletrack descents, don’t act surprised when you create a wake of broken spirits and crushed egos as you blow past your rivals on the trail. You earned it. Up, down, PRs, and podiums—this gal’s got game.
GRANDE AMERICANA L
jubljana, Slovenia. It’s the day of the 2015 Giro Rosa prologue—what is essentially the pre-first stage, stage—and American, Megan Guarnier, appears calm and relaxed. Looking forward to getting started on
the biggest, multi-day race on the women’s calendar. We meet in the lobby of the team hotel, in a high ceilinged, open lounge area where voices carry and every elevator ding signals the ground-floor delivery of a professional cyclist from some team-or-other. Upon hearing we’re going to have a rambling chat about the season so far, Megan grins widely.
MEGAN GUARNIER’S MIGHTY BIG YEAR ‘If there’s one thing I’m good at,” she says,
It seems fitting that her nickname originates from
chuckling, “it’s rambling chats.”
a story like this, since the year so far has been somewhat of a storybook season. And it’s even
Her good humor is contagious and easy, and at the
more fitting that this small but powerful rider, with
mention of Smiley the soigneur, our conversation
the odds seemingly stacked against her, should
turns swiftly to team nicknames.
have such a big year.
“Danny’s the mastermind of nicknames,” she says.
You could say it started at Strade Bianche, with
“He calls me Calimero. It’s this little cartoon bird.
a dominant, solo victory in the first women’s
The bird wears an eggshell on his head because
iteration of this prestigious race. The performance
he forgot to grow, and I’m the smallest one on the
held two hallmarks of Guarnier’s consistent
team, so…. Anyway, the bird always says, ‘It’s not
style—patience and determination. Soloing off
fair. You are big and I am small,’ and Danny says
the front, the image of Megan, arms in the air
he can just see me in the peloton with all these
crossing the line with not a soul in sight, is the
giant people around, and me saying ‘It’s not fair.’
kind of photo parents hang above the mantel. It’s
(Danny Stam, Boels-Dolmans Team Director and
a dominant victory, with the elation of the finish
bestow-er of said nickname, tells me later that he’d
writ large on her face. Is it a different feeling, that
seen Megan in a TT helmet one day, and that visual
moment of victory at Strade, when compared it
made him think of it. After that, it just stuck.)
with something like a grand tour?
“Winning a one-day race is special,” she says,
“I think in a stage race, the victories are a little
“Because you train so hard for so many hours
different. Maybe they’re a little bit toned down
and you always think about winning—the victory.
because there’s not this big ramp up into it.
Winning any single day road race, it’s like you’re
Whereas Strade and Nationals, you kind of have
the first to cross the line on that one day. It’s a little
this big vision of ‘I wanna win this race.’ But in a
bit different when you win general classifications,
stage race you’re like ‘Oh, I have five opportunities
because you don’t always have to win any stage to
to win.’ [laughs] I mean it’s how you hope to see
win the overall. With a one day, there’s always this
it. And once you win, it’s like, ‘OK, I’ve won, now
exhilaration of crossing the line first.
on to the next day. How am I going to win the next day? Or what’s the team tactic the next day?’
“And it was just an incredible win—to win the first ever women’s Strade—I still can’t believe it a little
“So, I guess you don’t have as much time to let it
bit. It was my first really big, one-day win in Europe,
sink in and celebrate.”
and I think there was a big sigh of relief from a lot of my supporters. You know, like, “Oh, she finally
It’s not a stretch to say that any rider dreams of
did it. She finally did all of these things that we’ve
becoming the National Champion of their country
known she can do. She’s been training so hard
and wearing the national colors—in Megan’s
she’s been working so hard and finally.”
case, the red white and blue. And prior to what will be a courageous Giro performance—which
What does a win like that do for the mind? How
at the time of this interview is still to come—
does it impact the Megan mojo?
becoming the U.S. National Champion was the second big result of the season. How does
“I got a lot of confidence for the rest of the season
winning that compare?
from it. To win it solo just gives you confidence that you do have the power.” She pauses, obviously
“I guess winning Nationals feels a little more real
thinking back to that day and turning the moment
for me because I’ve done it once before , and
over in her mind before adding, “Because it’s
since that first time I’ve had a few years to simmer
not that they just sat up behind me and said ‘oh,
on it. You know, to want it even more? In a way, the
ok. Let her win.’ They were chasing. It’s a huge
second time validates the first. The first time you’re
like, ‘Maybe I just got lucky that day. Maybe the stars aligned.’ But then you do it the second time
That confidence has held strong, propelling her to
and you’re like ‘Wow. OK, this is two times.’
the podium for a stage at Euskal Emakumeen Bira and U.S. Road Nationals. What about winning a
“So, I guess I feel,” she says, thinking, “A little
stage in a multi-day race? How does that feel in
bit more in my own skin in the stars and stripes
comparison to a one-day?
jersey this time.”
“AND IT’S EVEN MORE FITTING THAT THIS SMALL BUT POWERFUL RIDER, WITH THE ODDS SEEMINGLY STACKED AGAINST HER, SHOULD HAVE SUCH A BIG YEAR.”
PRETTY IN PINK France, two weeks later. The cheers of the crowds lining narrow Italian streets or hanging out at the edges of twisting mountain roads have faded, and Megan Guarnier is kicking back. Now it’s time to relax and decompress with her husband by her side, in the quiet sanctuary of their recently purchased home. Time to reflect on a quest for victory that ultimately was not to be. Six days. Guarnier spent six glorious days in the coveted maglia rosa. A thrilling sprint victory saw her first pull on the Pink Jersey at the end of Stage 2, and each day that followed saw the ladies of Boels-Dolmans battle through sweltering heat and tough mountain stages to defend it. Day-after-day they succeeded, with Guarnier herself snagging as many precious points as she could along the way, before finally losing the jersey in the individual time trial. After the dust settled, she’d spent multiple days in the maglia rosa, had a stage win, the overall points jersey, and finished third overall in the GC. “Six days in the maglia rosa was really fun for our team,” she says, adding that although fun, it was also a heavy load to carry. “The Boels-Dolmans ladies raced above and beyond to keep the pink jersey, and I was extremely disappointed to lose it in the time trial.” You can’t say that she didn’t give it absolutely everything she had—there’s not one photo from the race that doesn’t reflect her give-it-all effort. Three stages in a row she sprinted for second and kept the GC dream alive, and it’s this kind of consistency and tenacity she’s known for.
“I LEFT EVERYTHING OUT THERE ON THE ROADS OF ITALY, THE GIRO IS ALWAYS A RACE THAT YOU GO INTO WITH THE THOUGHT, ‘THIS IS GOING TO BE REALLY HARD’ AND THEN IT’S MORE CHALLENGING THAN YOU COULD HAVE IMAGINED.” - MEGAN GUARNIER Although the disappointment of losing the jersey during the time trial lurks in her mind, there’s also the satisfaction of knowing that she went as hard as she could in that race against the clock. “I left everything out there on the roads of Italy,” she says, “so I can only be proud of that. And thankfully my teammates understand the trials and tribulations of time trialing, and were supportive on that difficult day. I’m also pleased with my results over the week, and the most special part of that was sharing those results with my team. It was each of my teammates who made it possible and bolstered me to those performances.” “You know,” she adds, “the Giro is always a race that you go into with the thought, ‘this is going to be really hard’ and then it’s more challenging than you could have imagined. The heat this year was insufferable, but my teammates were incredible at keeping me hydrated throughout the race.” Whatever the rest of the season holds, the year so far has proven one thing for sure—size will not hold back this Calimero. Not in Megan Guarnier’s mighty big year. “Did I ramble enough,” she asks, laughing. Not too big. Not too small. Just the perfect amount.
seconds over 40km? Speed now has no compromise.
construction provides an excellent level of fit and comfort, regardless of how long youâ€™re in the saddle. Oh, and did we mention that it will save you 46
a very similar aero profile to the TT, while still providing enough cooling ventilation to be worn in hot weather. And going a step further, its lightweight
helmets, and it needed to be damn fast. So taking what we learned from the S-Works McLaren TT helmet, we crafted the S-Works Evade to share
When we first started designing the S-Works Evade Helmet, we had two requirementsâ€”it needed to have all the ventilation and comfort of our road
E V A D E H E L M E T
and experience of a pro, while its Women’s Endurance Geometry ensures comfort and grace under pressure.
your friends all over the countryside. Elegantly smooth and stylishly fast, the Ruby helps you get out there and explore, with all the speed, confidence,
S-Works stands as a true thoroughbred, engineered to respond willingly to your every command, whether that be climbing in the mountains, or chasing
with an aesthetically stunning, high-performance SL4 carbon frame, you’re assured of a smooth and efficient ride quality, mile after glorious mile. The
Endurance made beautiful—that’s the S-Works Ruby Di2. By taking the highest-end components, like Dura-Ace electronic shifting, and marrying them
R U B Y
ominance in sport is a funny thing. On one hand, it’s impressive to watch a team or individual display mastery in their field, but on the other hand, fans rarely enjoy victory when it seems to be a foregone
conclusion. For Gwen Jorgensen, however, none of this really matters, as she possesses a rare bit of character that places her in elite company. And as the reigning World Triathlon Series (WTS) World Champion, Gwen’s been more than dominant this year—she’s been perfect, winning all of her last 11 WTS starts. Impressively, she remains the WTS Series leader, even after taking a few events off to rest up for later in the season. Yet, in spite of this record-breaking run of victories, there’s an accomplishment that still beckons: Gold still looms brightly on the horizon.
Triathlon is a sport that demands dedication and
In spite of the sheer dominance that Gwen’s
consistency—consistency in training, consistency
demonstrated for the last two years, there’s a
in nutrition, and of course, consistency in three
different motivation that’s propelling her forward.
different disciplines. After all, the world’s best
The Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
runners can’t make up the deficit incurred from a
will be a race of redemption for Gwen, and she’s
poor swim and bike leg. But perhaps what makes
strategically planned her race calendar to place
triathlon so fascinating is just how taxing the toll
her in the best possible physical condition to fight
on the body is. A race day for Gwen sees her
for the Gold. Her unrelenting pace has already
completing a 1500-meter swim that’s followed by
qualified her to be a part of the Olympic team,
a 40-kilometer draft-legal bike portion, all before
ensuring that she can devote more time to training
finishing with a 10-kilometer run. And while these
and less time to worrying about making the team.
are nowhere near the monumental distances made famous by Ironman® competitions, the
It’s a long way from what life used to look like for
shorter format calls for blistering speeds, while
Gwen. Finishing up her last year of college, she
ensuring that tactics and sheer strength play
had a job lined up with a large accounting firm,
vital roles in any victory. At the 2012 London
and she was coming to terms with adjusting for
Olympics, Gwen was in form and in pursuit of a
life with a professional career. However, a USA
gold medal. Unfortunately, though, a flat tire in
Triathlon coach recognized her athletic talents
the middle of the bike leg deflated her hopes of
and pushed her to give the sport a try. Good for
a podium spot. But here’s the funny thing about
Gwen—not so much for her competitors. Perhaps
champions—for them, heartbreaking moments
it’s her relatively short relationship with triathlon
of failure often lay the foundation for the purest
that’s made her such a formidable force? Without
forms of motivation. In Gwen’s case, it led to the
the preconceived notions of how she “should”
most dominant run of consecutive victories that
race, she’s free to do what feels natural. And for
the triathlon world has ever seen.
Gwen, what feels natural is winning.
“THE FUNNY THING ABOUT CHAMPIONS– FOR THEM, HEARTBREAKING MOMENTS OF FAILURE OFTEN LAY THE FOUNDATION FOR THE PUREST FORMS OF MOTIVATION.”
What’s just as impressive as Gwen’s ability to win is the way in which she does it. A former track and field athlete in college, she’s worked tirelessly to improve her performances in both the swim and bike portions, the latter of which features a draftlegal bike portion that’s unique to ITU. Normally, triathlon bike legs are dominated by aero helmets, disc wheels, and optimized aerodynamic positions that are incorporated to combat the wind. In ITU races, however, the bikes are more similar to what you would find in a crit or road race, and the courses that the athletes cover are much more technical. These differences don’t just demand bike fitness, but they also require bike handling skills to be far more tuned. In other words, a bike leg becomes less a display of pure physical prowess and more a clinic in overall bike racing. Gwen’s custom S-Works Amira is the perfect option for just such a race.
“WITHOUT THE PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS OF HOW SHE “SHOULD” RACE, SHE’S FREE TO DO WHAT FEELS NATURAL. AND FOR GWEN, WHAT FEELS NATURAL IS WINNING.”
When the world’s fastest women line up in Brazil, there’ll be more than just the iconic hills and beaches behind them. For Gwen, there will be the years of sacrifice, hard work, and the disappointment of a missed opportunity in London. The Olympics are the sporting world’s grandest stage, creating heroes just as quickly as it can dash the hopes of those competing. Four years of training, racing, and preparing will all boil down to a single day in August. For two hours, Gwen will have to shut out every part of her body telling her to stop. And in order to win Gold, she’ll need to pull on every ounce of experience that she’s had in the past four years to help motivate her to push beyond what her brain considers possible. Most importantly, though, if she hopes to win, she’ll have to race like the Gwen Jorgensen that the world has gotten accustomed to these past two years. There’s no better practice in the world than winning everything in sight.
components, and a super-fast, aerodynamic Roval wheelset, the S-Works Amira is a true competitor’s dream.
tricky descents like a sushi master carves sashimi. Performance, quality, and handling—these are the words woven into its DNA—and with high-end
to the 2015 overall. And with good reason. With its stiff and responsive carbon frame, the Amira reacts instantly to snappy accelerations, and carves
this season, including Megan Guarnier’s impressive solo victory at the Strade Bianche and countless Lizzie Armitstead World Cup wins on her way
In the expert hands of the pro women of the Boels-Dolman’s Cycling Team, the S-Works Amira has found itself hitting the finish first in a bevy of races
A M I R A
IL MOTIVAZIONE T
he Giro d’Italia has always had its own distinctive flavor when it comes to Grand Tours. In the land of beauty and passion, where good food and wine are valued almost as much as beautiful clothing and cars, the Giro
is often personified by the passion of its fans. It’s a race that exalts the brave and celebrates the relentless—win the Giro, and you’ll never pay for a drink again. Win the Giro as an Italian, and you’ll become the hero of a nation. For Alberto Contador, however, the Giro was the first part of a historic run at attempting to win two Grand Tours in one year. It started along the idyllic coastline of the Ligurian Sea, and finished in the shadows of the spired Cathedral in Milano, creating legends, crushing spirits, and crowning a champion along the way. The last time Alberto graced the top step of the Giro podium was in 2008, and seven years later, his drive was more focused than ever. As one of the greatest Grand Tour racers that cycling has ever seen, the pressure of history rested squarely upon the shoulders of the man from Pinto.
Winning a Grand Tour is an accomplishment unlike
taken down in an early-stage crash, injuring his
any other in sport. For 23 days, riders must operate
shoulder badly in the process. Many thought his
and function with a level of focus and resolve that
bid for a Giro-Tour double was over before it had
few possess. There’s nary a moment of reprieve
even begun, but it turned out that he had actually
from the constant threat of attacks from rival
dislocated his shoulder briefly before it popped
teams, the onslaught of inclement weather, or
back into place on its own. But as anyone who’s
the punishingly long stage profiles. Even the “rest
dislocated a shoulder knows, the pain doesn’t just
days” aren’t much of a break, with most riders
go away once the arm is popped back into place.
choosing to head out for a three- to four-hour ride
Add to this the ease in which it can be injured
for fear of their bodies shutting down after such
again, and most people would stay off of the bike
a consistent physical effort. Wounds are dressed
for a week or so. Alberto Contador, however,
and prepped for the next day of punishment, food
isn’t most people. You don’t win all three Grand
is consumed with a utilitarian detachment, and
Tours by quitting when things get difficult. Many
bodies are massaged and realigned to endure
expected him to pull out of the race. For the type
another grueling day in the saddle. Within this
of rider Alberto is, especially with his signature
flurry of activity, Alberto Contador proved to both
out of the saddle climbing style, a weakened
riders and fans alike, that he was undoubtedly the
shoulder could have spelled disaster. What many
strongest rider in the race.
didn’t expect, though, was for him to not just come back the next day, but for him to stamp his
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though. Amidst the
authority on a race in one of the most complete
carnage of a blistering opening week, Alberto was
Grand Tour victories in recent memories.
At every opportunity, Alberto and his TinkoffSaxo squad were tested. Through treacherous mountain
descents, Alberto responded with the type of measured calm that has won him numerous Grand Tours in the past. And as his new S-Works 6 shoes danced atop his pedals, we saw a version of Alberto that was different, yet somehow the same. Where in the past, his dominance in the mountains was unsurpassed, the Alberto that won the 2015 Giro was one who looked to be fueled by pure grit. Grand Tour victories often come with a healthy helping of good luck. For Alberto, however, none of that seemed to be aiding his campaign. And in spite of those misfortunes, he soldiered on. In fact, his resolve seemed only to grow more focused. The Alberto that won the 2015 Giro was an Alberto with a score to settle. His power in the mountains was still something Contador first laid the gauntlet down during the
to behold, but the emotion and drive that seemed
long, 59.4km individual time trial—putting nearly
to be urging him on was new. He raced with the
three minutes into his closest rival, Fabio Aru.
determination of a champion, demonstrating that
What followed in the ensuing days was a high-
his star is far from burning out.
altitude display of climbing that left little doubt as to whether or not Contador had recovered from
The Giro-Tour Double eventually eluded him, but
his injury. Aboard his custom-liveried S-Works
Alberto reminded many why he’s still a threat in
Tarmac, and facing a strong and organized Team
any race that he shows up to. And while a new
Astana, Alberto most notably showed his class on
wave of GC contenders are certainly making their
Stage 16 when he singlehandedly chased down a
presence known, seven Grand Tour victories in a
charging Astana-led group heading into the foot
career is something that should never be scoffed
of the Mortirolo climb. Erasing nearly a minute
at. It would be easy for some riders to bask in the
deficit, Alberto took third on the day and further
glow of a storied and successful career, but the
secured his vice grip on the Pink Jersey.
Alberto Contador of today appears to be hungrier than ever. There’s a centered resolve that seems to have placed him in a new place in his storyline. It’s one where, perhaps, winning means more than it used to, and motivation is driven by passion alone. But regardless of why he’s out there, a fit and focused Contador is always a sight to behold.
“THE ALBERTO THAT WON THE 2015 GIRO WAS ONE WHO LOOKED TO BE FUELED BY PURE GRIT.”
—not a bad track record.
more than what you ask of it, regardless of the terrain. And if that’s not enough, it’s already been piloted to wins at the Tour, the Giro, and the Vuelta
able to take advantage of the explosive climbing and legendary descending capabilities of the FACT 11r frame and fork. So you get a bike that does
First Engineered™ frame, ensuring uniformed performance across the entire size run. This means that, whether you ride a 46cm or a 61cm, you’ll be
them win the biggest races in the world, we knew that we had to deliver. The S-Works Tarmac starts out with the complete performance of its Rider-
Winning a Grand Tour isn’t easy. So when riders like Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali came to us and said they needed a bike that could help
T A R M A C
hauls over rough roads.
to the road, the frame and fork are constructed from our FACT carbon fiber. Put it altogether, and itâ€™s guaranteed to keep you fresh and fast on long
plus Zertz vibration damping inserts and our CG-R seatpost for engineered vertical compliance. And to ensure that every bit of power is transferred
So to stay true to its namesake, we made sure that the S-Works Roubaix has it all in spades. It features our Endurance Geometry for stable handling,
When a bike shares its name with one of the most storied, grueling races in cyclingâ€™s history, it better have equal parts performance and all-day comfort.
R O U B A I X
with one speed in mind—flat out.
be shredding through the course. So whether you shoulder the bike over the barriers or just bunny hop clear over them, the S-Works CruX was designed
specific geometry to help navigate even the most technical courses out there. And with its front and rear thru-axle design and hydraulic disc brakes, you’ll
S-Works CruX was designed specifically for the unique demands of cyclocross. Its lightweight and responsive FACT 11r frame is coupled with ‘cross-
gasping for breath. So when you’re working this hard, you demand a bike that does everything you need it to with no questions asked. That’s why the
Cyclocross is a sport often associated with the type of lung searing, leg-destroying efforts that leave you glassy eyed, staring off into the distance, and
C R U X
easy and efficient on-the-bike hydration. With the S-Works Shiv at your disposal, your old PRs will tremble in its wake.
it doesn’t matter how fast the bike is if you don’t have fuel in the tank, which is why we designed the integrated Fuelselage hydration system to allow for
The lightweight and responsive FACT 11r carbon frame was aerodynamically optimized to perform equally well in both head- and crosswinds. Of course,
were able to make the S-Works Shiv the absolute fastest bike we possibly could, all while maintaining incredible handling and a wide range of fit options.
The wonderful thing about a bike that’s specifically designed for triathlons is that there aren’t any pesky UCI rules that need to be followed. This means we
S H I V
C A M B E R
In the pursuit of speed, all trails lead to the Camber. Itâ€™s designed to be the ultimate speed-loving trail bike, so possessing equal efficiency both up and down the trail is an absolute must. To make sure of it, the Camber features our legendary, fully active & independent FSR suspension with PositionSensitive Brain technology to make things even faster and more efficient. Lending to both this and handling, youâ€™ll find our hallmark geometry of an ultrashort, nimble rear end, a roomy top tube, and plenty of travel at the front and rear. And to keep you prepared for anything you come across on the trail, it includes all-new integrated SWAT technology. So if your rides see you going hard and fast, the Camber is tailor-made for you.
E N D U R O
Whether you’re riding in the backcountry or racing enduro, you need a bike that’s both capable and efficient. After all, to ride “all mountain” necessitates the capability to ride the entire mountain. That’s why the Enduro comes equipped with loads of travel, a lightweight construction, and a geometry that can handle itself with poise and efficiency on anything from downhill tracks to stomach-wrenching climbs. Get up to get down.
F A T B O Y
What started out as “serious fun” has quickly become a serious change to what we want out of a bike. The fat revolution is here, and with “fat” races becoming more and more prevalent, we knew that our much-heralded Fatboy could stand to go on a diet. So we gave it an immaculate FACT carbon fiber construction, complete internal routing, and a build kit that spares no expense. The result is a bike that lives at the intersection of fun and fury, leaving you ready for any trail, any time, anywhere.
Specialized would like to thank the following photographers for being in the right place at the
Brakethrough Johan Badenhorst Media
right time and capturing these moments. Without you, this is just a book of words.
Specialized started S-Works to meet the demands of professional racers. Historically what racers raced was a stripped back, limit-pushing ve...
Published on Jul 1, 2016
Specialized started S-Works to meet the demands of professional racers. Historically what racers raced was a stripped back, limit-pushing ve...