Reigning Tour de France champ Chris Froome’s swoopy-looking Pinarello Dogma 8
Pinarello’s latest Dogma follows the philosophy of ‘if it ain’t broke…’, as the F8’s frame has stayed the same since its launch. This is no bad thing as far as we’re concerned, as the F8 featured marked improvements over its 65.1 predecessor. And as Froomedog claimed his second yellow jersey on this bike last year, it’s not like it’s slouching its way through France…
Highs: Impressive on-road manners and a great turn of speed
Lows: The one-piece bar/stem is very stiff; some rear brake rub; that price
Buy if: You want a Tour-winning machine that’s fast, aerodynamic and comfortable
Aero-optimised frame with neat details
As with many pro machines Team Sky‘s bike has an aero-optimised frame, in this case featuring main tubes with what Pinarello calls a ‘FlatBack Profile’. It’s a profile that’s usually referred to as Kamm-tail, a truncated aerofoil that has an aerodynamic advantage but that doesn’t contravene the UCI’s 3:1 aspect ratio rule [the depth of the tube can’t be more than three times the width]
But for what is essentially an aero road bike, the design is clean and fuss-free, even though it has some very neat touches. The bow-legged fork is designed to reduce turbulence from the rotating front wheel, while the fork crown is shaped to closely match the standard brake. The asymmetrical frame is typically Pinarello, and is claimed to equalise the drivetrain forces.
While the frame is essentially unchanged, the same isn’t true for the rest of the bike. MOST’s new one-piece Talon bar is designed to be as aerodynamic as the bike, complete with teardrop-shaped stem and spacers. But what truly impresses with the F8 is the comfort that the frame and fork deliver. A bike with oversized aerodynamic tubes could easily be rigid and uncompromising, but the F8’s rear end plushness, in particular, is impressive and the comfort really shines through.
Rock-solid front end
The front does feel stiffer than the last F8 we tested, which has to be down to the rock-solid-feeling one-piece wing bar, but the hooks have a great shape and the flats on the bar tops aren’t so wide that they’re uncomfortable on long climbs – something the F8 has seen plenty of.
There’s little that we haven’t already said about Dura-Ace Di2 and we couldn’t fault Selle Italia’s SLR saddle either. Froome and Co will be riding Shimano wheels, while our bike has 47mm-deep rimmed Corima A+ clinchers with Vittoria’s graphene-infused Corsa tyres. These are among the best tyres we’ve tried recently, offering compliance, speed and grip.
The wheels roll smoothly, at 1400g they’re pretty light and they’re fine performers in crosswinds. And, like the frame, Corima’s rims have pedigree, being ridden by Astana to victory in the 2014 Tour, the 2015 Giro and Vuelta and this year’s Giro. The carbon brake tracks did whistle occasionally under hard braking, though this lessened as the brake blocks wore in, and we could induce a little rear brake rub sprinting hard, though some fettling with a spoke key reduced this.
We believe that Pinarello’s Dogma excels as an all-rounder with aero considerations rather than as an all-out aero road bike, with a balance of reactive handling and speed that closely matches the Bianchi Oltre we tested last month. Cannondale’s Evo and the Focus Izalco may be more nimble through the bends, but the F8 has the better of both when it comes to flat-out straight-line speed.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) returns to defend his crown at the Critérium du Dauphiné – June 5-12 – but the British rider will face a stern examination from Tour de France rivals Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), Fabio Aru (Astana), Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).
The eight-day race favours the climbers with three mountain-top finishes and an individual uphill prologue to kick off the race. The team time trial that featured last year has been removed, while the sprinters have at least two stages to shine before a trio of difficult stages in the mountains.
Froome’s last stage-race outing came at the Tour de Romandie in April, in which he won a stage but finished over 21 minutes down on GC. The defending Tour de France champion will be looking for a far more consistent performance.
Contador was the sharper of the two when they clashed at the Volta a Catalunya earlier this season and has won the Vuelta al País Vasco and finished on the podium in Paris-Nice and the Volta ao Algarve to silence any suggestions that he is beginning to slow as he approaches retirement. With Nairo Quintana busily honing his form in Colombia, the Tinkoff leader is Froome’s most predicable yet dangerous opponent.
Aru will make his debut in the race and will be keen to impress after his teammate Vincenzo Nibali won the Giro d’Italia and looks set to ride the Tour de France in order to gain form. Aru certainly has a route that suits his characteristics but it will be interesting to measure whether he targets the overall in the Dauphiné or – like Nibali has done in the past – uses particular stages in which to measure his condition.
The home challenge
The home challenge will be led by Bardet and Pinot. The latter has improved his ability against the clock and is a genuine threat for the opening prologue, while Bardet – sixth last year and victor on the stage to Pra-Loup – will be earmarking a similar performance once again.
Pierre Rolland (Cannondale) will take up the charge for Cannondale with Andrew Talansky altering his programme. The Frenchman has taken time to adjust to life on his new team but has previously tasted success in the Dauphiné, winning the King of the Mountains competition in 2008.
Richie Porte (BMC Racing) will lead the line for his new team, while Tejay van Garderen targets the Tour de Suisse. The Australian will be supported by Rohan Dennis and Damiano Caruso in the mountains.
Daniel Martin and Tour of California winner Julian Alaphilippe will lead Etixx QuickStep, and Bauke Mollema and Ryder Hesjedal will team up for Trek Segafredo.
Prologue – Les Gets – Les Gets, 3.9km
The eight-day race begins with a lung-busting 3.9-kilometre uphill time trial in Les Gets that will test the limits of the GC contenders. While the distance will not create any significant gaps, it will provide a window into the form of many riders ahead of the Tour de France. The climb itself starts out a reasonably manageable 6 per cent but rapidly ramps up with the entire second half at around 15 per cent. The nine switchbacks offer little in the way of respite for the riders, making it a complete contrast to last year’s longer, far flatter opening stage.
Cyclingnews’ top tip: Thibaut Pinot (FDJ): A pure climber who has improved immeasurably against the clock this season – not a bad combination for this sort of test.
Stage 1 – Cluses – Saint-Vulbas, 186km
The Dauphiné returns to the capital of the Arve Valley with a stage designed for the sprinters. With Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Sam Bennett (Bora Argon 18), and John Degenkolb (Giant Alpecin) all in the mix, the stage will be controlled by the sprinters’ teams, rather than the GC contenders, although a break is likely to form and contest the four fourth-category climbs. The last climb comes almost 50 kilometres before the finish, providing the sprinters with little excuse.
Cyclingnews’ top tip: Alexander Kristoff (Katusha): The Norwegian, on paper, is the strongest sprinter in the race, but will face stiff competition from the in-form Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), who won two stages last year.
The first uphill road stage finish of the race should provide another shake up in the overall standings with a third category climb up to Chalmazel-Jeansagnière. The preceding 155km are rolling throughout with the Col de Durbize coming inside the opening 15km, and the Col de la Croix Nicelle after 52km. However, it’s the final slog to up Chalmazel-Jeansagnière and the all-important Côte de Saint-Georges-en-Couzan that comes just before that should set the race alight. Teams such as Sky and Tinkoff will have to measure their approaches in order to control the field but with so many fresh legs, the attacks will be constant. If this stage came later in the race it would be ideal for a break but with the race so tightly contested, there’s little chance in the peloton being so relaxed.
Cyclingnews’ top tip: Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge): A breakaway could be a threat but if not – or if in there – the Australian has the characteristics to be aggressive on the long, gentle ascent to the line, along with the requisite punch to finish it off.
The first half of the stage is a flat affair as the race heads due south. However, the second half of the stage consists of three catergorised climbs. The last ascent – the Côte de Sécheras – is second category, 2.8km in length and with pitches averaging 8 per cent. The majority of the sprinters will be distanced and could struggle to regain contact but a rider such as Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) should be targeting the win. He can climb when required and is in form. Surviving the 13.9 per cent section on the climb will be crucial to his chances.
Cyclingnews’ top tip: Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data): The Norwegian is well capable of making the selection on the late climb and then being the fastest finisher left.
Stage 4 – Tain-l’Hermitage – Belley, 176km
177 kilometers and then a sprint. With two small climbs spaced out and a mainly flat profile the stage is destined to be contested by the sprinters. The only concern is the uphill drag to the line that lasts almost a kilometre.
Cyclingnews’ top tip: John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin): Degenkolb has an advantage over other sprinters when the road rises slightly and we should see if the German, after racing the Tour of California last month, can return to his former powers following his training crash and finger injury.
Stage 5 – La Ravoire – Vaujany, 140km
Seven categorised climbs, six of which come in the opening 80 kilometres before a final uphill ascent to Vaujany. If the previous five days of racing had not created a pecking order in the race for the yellow jersey then this stage should at least eliminate a few contenders.
The climbing comes thick and fast and a break should be formed fairly early with so many relatively easy King of the Mountains points up for grabs. The final climb, however, is where the GC contenders will surge forward.
At 6.4km in length the climb to Vaujany isn’t particularly long but it’s the break in gradient that will test many of the riders. The toughest sections come just after the start, and right at the summit but before the riders reach the final they must alternate between pitches of 5 and 12 per cent. If riders time their efforts incorrectly they’ll quickly be found out. There’s enough there to have the pure climbers and the all-rounders eyeing an opportunity.
Cyclingnews’ top tip: Dan Martin/Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep): The final climb has ramps of over 12 per cent – similar platforms to ones where both of this aggressive pair have shone this season.
Stage 6 – La Rochette – Méribel, 141km
The previous day will have provided an indication as to who would not feature at the top of the GC but stage 6 is clearly where the race can be won with the Col de Champ-Laurent, Col du Grand Cucheron, Col de la Madeleine, Montée des Frasses and the final first category ascent to Meribel all sandwiched into 141 kilometres of racing. The final climb, 12.3 kilometres in length suits a Team Sky tactic of control and containment, with a steady 6-8 per cent for the majority of the ascent.
There’s a sting in the tail just before the line with a section just over 10 per cent but the majority of the damage will have already been inflicted.
Cyclingnews’ top tip: Chris Froome (Team Sky): The decisive stage for GC. Froome’s form this season hasn’t been as easy to read as Contador’s so this would seem to be a key Tour de France indicator for the reigning champion of both races.
Stage 7 – Le-Pont-de-Claix – Superdévoluy, 151km
There was a similar stage in 2013 that saw Samuel Sánchez – then at Euskaltel-Euskadi – win and Chris Froome maintain his overall lead in the race. The start and finishes are the only similarities to that stage this time around with the meat of the profile taking in different climbs. The Col du Noyer does remain, acting as the penultimate ascent towards the final climb of the race.
Cyclingnews’ top tip: Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale): Much will depend on how the GC stands going into the final day but the Frenchman – as he proved at the Dauphiné last year – is a rider capable of replicating the Sánchez blueprint.
The results are in! Cyclingnews readers have chosen the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team’s kit as the best-looking jersey in the WorldTour this season. The bright green argyle topped the more understated black kit of Team Sky, with the bold red outfit of the Katusha team in third.
Readers picked their top three choices of the 18 WorldTour teams, and the Cannondale jersey made by Castelli was picked as number one most frequently with 1554 votes, while Sky’s Rapha outfit was picked as the second choice most often. We weighted the votes like an intermediate sprint – each first place was given five points, three for second place and one point for third to arrive at the final sort order.
Not popular was the yellow, white and black of the Dutch LottoNl-Jumbo squad, which finished at the bottom of the heap, with the teal of Astana and the bright blue and fuchsia of Lampre-Merida not far ahead.
The bike, unchanged from the Tour de France winning ride of 2015, has been given a subtle new set of graphics and colours, while the components, from Shimano, Fizik and Elite, remain the same. The frame remains predominantly matte black but with a blue and white stripe on the seat tube. The Team Sky Pinarello Dogma F8 was first launched in 2014.
As a life long resident of California Tom embraces so many of the perks that this part of the world affords. He is a competitive tennis player, guitarist, and as a father to two athletic boys he is often attending a little league game or outside teaching them proper form for a good swing.
Thomas F. Forsyth is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and received his law degree from Whittier College, School of Law, where he served on the Law Review as Notes and Comments Editor. Read More