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Which bikes, groupsets and brakes did best at Grand Tours in 2020?

9 Nov 2020

As Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic crossed the Stage 18 finish line in Madrid to defend his Vuelta a Espana title, this year’s Grand Tour calendar came to a close.

In a year of uncertainty, in which at some points we weren't sure whether would see any racing at all, the fact that we got to see the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana all play out to their full conclusions is something to be celebrated.

It gives us good hope that when the peloton returns to racing in February, we should be able to see a season which is as close to normal as is realistically possible.

But before we start looking ahead to 2021 and what may happen then, Cyclist has decided to get its geek on with a deep dive back through this year’s three Grand Tours and crunch the numbers to tell you which bike brands got their money’s worth in victories, why Mitchelton-Scott let down Shimano and how disc brakes are slowly taking over.

The fact is, the professional peloton is the billboard by which bike, groupset and kit brands plaster their stuff in the hope that us amateurs will look to emulate our heroes and buy the same equipment. This means it does matter how many stages a particular bike brand can lay claim to or whether rim brakes are still relevant (spoiler – they so are).

So below is a breakdown of which bikes, groupsets and brake type performed best across the three Grand Tours this year.

Best bikes of the bunch

Yet again, American brand Specialized’s sponsorship of winning machines Deceuninck-QuickStep and Bora-Hansgrohe saw it top the best Grand Tour bikes chart.

Victories with both WorldTour teams in all three Grand Tours across the mountains and flatlands indicates a good year for Specialized, however it actually saw its victory count decrease from 14 stages to eight year-on-year, dropping from a 22% win share down to 13%.

It also had to share top spot this year with the Ineos Grenadiers who also romped to eight stage wins, seven of which came at the Giro.

Considering that last year Team Ineos Grenadiers failed to pick up a solitary stage win, the fact they finished 2020 with eight and the Giro overall title means we can safely assume Fausto Pinarello is a happy man.

Third spot was also a shared prize as Bianchi and Colnago both notched up seven wins apiece. Both brands' wins also came courtesy of one team each, Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates respectively.

Turns out Primoz Roglic and Wout van Aert being two of the most well-rounded riders in the peloton paid off for both Jumbo-Visma and Bianchi, and the bike brand came close to matching its 2019 victory haul of eight wins and also took victory in the Vuelta yet again.

For Colnago, this will be a year to remember. Not only did its bikes take stage wins in all three Grand Tours, but it was also the first time in his 66-year career that Ernesto Colango saw one of his bikes piloted to the Tour’s Maillot Jaune.

1= Specialized (Deceuninck-QuickStep and Bora-Hansgrohe), 8 wins
1= Pinarello (Ineos Grenadiers), 8 wins
3= Bianchi (Jumbo-Visma), 7 wins
3= Colnago (UAE-Team Emirates), 7 wins
5= Cannondale (Education First), 6 wins
5= Lapierre (Groupama-FDJ), 6 wins

Moving parts

Yet again, Japanese giant Shimano proved the dominant force where groupsets are concerned, snapping up no fewer than 48 Grand Tour stage wins in 2020.

An increase on last year’s 42 wins, 2020 saw Shimano claim victory 80% of the time, a 14% increase on 2019.

Those wins came thanks to 13 Shimano-equipped WorldTour teams crossing the finish line first. In fact, that figure meant that only one Shimano-riding top-level team failed to succeed at a Grand Tour this year: Mitchelton-Scott.

Old faithful Campagnolo saw its victory count decrease from 17 to 11 for 2020, or in percentage terms from 26% to 18%. However, like last year, the Italians did manage an overall Grand Tour victory thanks to Tadej Pogacar’s Tour de France heroics.

Languishing in last place in the groupset ranks was Sram, which actually saw its victories half from two in 2019 to just one solitary win in 2020 – thanks be to Marc Soler! Trek-Segafredo’s barren Grand Tour year and Movistar’s tepid season made for a tough year for the American brand, its saving grace being Richie Porte’s Tour podium.

Another point of note is that the Grand Tour stages were shared out by the ‘Big Three’ groupset providers, unlike last year whereby FSA celebrated success thanks to Burgos-BH and Angel Madrazo’s Vuelta efforts.

1 Shimano (Deceuninck-QuickStep, Bora-Hansgrohe, Jumbo-Visma, Astana, AG2R La Mondiale, Team Sunweb, Education First, Ineos Grenadiers, Groupama-FDJ, Israel-Start-Up Nation, Bahrain-McLaren, NTT Pro Cycling, CCC Team), 48 wins
2 Campagnolo (UAE-Team Emirates and Lotto Soudal), 11 wins
3 Sram (Movistar), 1 win

Spinning the discs

If rim brakes are dead, how did they win all three Grand Tours? That’s right, the Tour, Giro and Vuelta were all won by riders racing on rim brake bikes.

Tadej Pogacar’s Colnago V3rs, Tao Geoghegan Hart’s Pinarello Dogma F12 and Primoz Roglic’s Bianchi Oltre XR4 were all fitted with the supposedly archaic braking system which we’d been led to believe by so many was dead.

But in all seriousness, the shift to disc brake-equipped bikes in the professional peloton showed no signs of slowing over the 2020 season.

In 2019, disc brake bikes won just 19 out of 62 Grand Tour stages raced, 32% of the overall total. This year, 34 of the 60 Grand Tour stages raced were won by teams on disc brakes, accounting for 57% of wins. That’s almost double year on year.

And to amplify the disc takeover even further, we can safely predict the disc brake win share to only increase for 2021 as Jumbo-Visma swap from exclusively using rim brakes with Bianchi to riding predominantly discs brake-equipped Cervelos. Bianchi will now provide its bikes to Mitchelton, beginning to supply its new disc-only Speciallissima in the WorldTour.

Yes, it is true that increasingly fewer riders and teams are being given the option of rim brakes – hence the big shift in wins – but it certainly is telling that like for us consumers, the humble rim brake is being squeezed from existence.

Wins with disc brakes: 34 – UAE-Team Emirates, Deceuninck-QuickStep, Bora-Hansgrohe, Lotto Soudal, Astana, Team Sunweb, Education First, Groupama-FDJ, Israel Start-Up Nation. Bahrain-McLaren, NTT Pro Cycling, CCC Team, Movistar.

Wins without disc brakes: 26 – UAE-Team Emirates, Jumbo-Visma, Ineos Grenadiers, Team Sunweb, AG2R La Mondiale, Groupama-FDJ.

There were 62 contested Grand Tour stages in 2019 after Stage 19 of the Tour de France was neutralised and then cancelled. There were 60 contested Grand Tour stages in 2020 as the Vuelta was reduced by three days