There was a time, not so long ago, when groupset manufacturer Campagnolo dominated the world of pro cycling. Cyclists including Greg Lemond, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain won multiple Tours de France on the Italian gruppo. They dominated the race from the 60s through to the end of the 90s, when Shimano arrived on the scene. Officially, Shimano first equipped the winner in 2007 and Alberto Contador’s bike, but in truth they were on the now disqualified 7-time winner Lance Armstrong’s Trek. Since their dominance ended, they’ve won the race just twice – in 2006 with Oscar Pereiro and 2014 with Vincenzo Nibali.
Still, that isn’t so much a reflection on the quality of Campagnolo in 2018 but the power and ubiquity of Shimano and, to a lesser extent, the other major player SRAM, who’ve partnered with the winner twice, in 2009 and 2010.
This, in a very roundabout way, introduces us to the theme of this issue’s main grouptest of six Campagnolo-equipped bikes, which includes the Bianchi Oltre XR3 Potenza and the Condor Italia RC.
Sticking with the Italian theme, if not Campagnolo, tester Warren Rossiter heads to the Italian Alps to test Giant’s all-new endurance-orientated Defy, which comes kitted out with Giant’s Power Pro power meter.
We’ve also First Rides of Canyon’s new gravel bike, the Grail CF SL 8.0 SL, the Cube Attain SLT Disc, the Wilier Triestina Cent010 Air Disc DI2 and the B’Twin Ultra 920 AF.
In New Kit, we test out a powerful, portable bike cleaner, Worx’s 20V Max Hydroshot, a head-to-head of two pairs of shoes (Giro Empire E70 Knit and Pearl Izumi Pro Leader V4), Zipp’s 303 Firecrest Clinchers, a rear lights grouptest and Shimano XC5 shoes.
In our other grouptests, we’ve got 16 versatile autumn jerseys and a host of lights for all circumstances.
In Features, we ditch altitude training and look at our attitude – the mind tricks used by experts that can help you overcome common psychological hurdles.
We also hear from two big names in the cycling industry. First, Olympic track gold medal sprinter Sir Chris Hoy shares his tips on resistance training to get us stronger this winter, before we go for a ride with commentator – and Cycling Plus columnist – Ned Boulting as he prepared for his one-man theatre show this autumn. And in Big Ride, Simon Warren goes for a spin in the Peak District, on the edge of his new Sheffield home.
And as an added treat, we’ve got a very special photo supplement of our history-making pro cyclists. With his win at the Vuelta, Simon Yates joined Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome to make it a clean sweep of the grand tours in 2018 – the first time three riders from the same nation have managed the feat. Good work, chaps!