Astana takes a Venge… at last
Two days before the Grand Départ of the 2015 Tour de France the bike supplier for Astana, Specialized, hosted a small gathering at the team hotel in Utrecht to showcase some of the bikes that will be used by the race’s defending champion and his team-mates this July.
Of the ‘big four’ favourites, Vincenzo Nibali has often been named as the fourth rider. The Tour’s defending champion has only raced 36 days so far this year and, until clenching Italy’s road race title last weekend, has only placed in the top 10 at one race – he was 10th overall in the Tour de Romandie. Comparing this to his rivals’ worthy victories makes him seem a little bit off the pace.
If Nibali’s legs fail him in the French mountains, one element of his preparation which can not be blamed is the equipment. Specialized released the Venge ViAS to great fanfare in June, but Nibali will choose to ignore the apparently monumental savings which are associated with the bike. He will opt to ride his lightweight Tarmac S-Works for the majority of the race, the Shiv for the TT stages, and the Roubaix for the cobble-riddled stage four. This is a combination Nibali used to perfection in 2014 and a routine Astana will be pleased to repeat.
Astana is famous for completely shunning the Venge. The team has ridden road stages exclusively on Tarmac or Roubaix frames…until now. Jakob Fuglsang has selected the new aerodynamic Venge ViAS and even suggested that he may use it in the opening 13.8km time trial through the streets of Utrecht! The Dane will be the only rider from Astana using the latest and greatest frame Specialized and will ride Campagnolo Super Record mechanical, neglecting EPS. Considering he is one of Nibali’s final allies in the mountains, we watch intently to see if he switches to the Tarmac when the road points skywards later in the Tour.
Below are some photos from inside the Astana compound in Utrecht…
* * * * *