What are these new Specialized road shoes we see?

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Specialist-sponsored runners race in never-before-seen S-Works shoes in this year’s early-season stage races.

So what’s the problem ? The company won’t comment in detail beyond saying that its professional racers help test and refine the products.

Last year, Specialized wrapped the feet of some of its sponsored team riders in the Ares shoe, which is lightweight and features large straps that sit over the feet for optimal retention. And the S-Works 7 shoe is another popular current model among the pros.

In early 2021, Ben Delaney wrote about the Ares shoe: Specialized is completely revamping the shoe design with S-Works Ares. Delaney also recently wrote about the S-Works 7 Lace-Up Road Shoe when reviewing them earlier this year.

A year after the launch of the Ares, in some of the races at the start of the 2022 season such as the Tour de la Provence, the Tour d’Oman, the Étoile de Bessèges and a few others, a few riders wore unreleased S-Works shoes.

Anthony Turgis of Team TotalEnergies wore new S-Works shoes during a team camp in January.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s Mark Cavendish, winner of Stage 2 of the Tour of Oman, wore a white shoe with a black tongue that looked different than his teammates (see photo above).

His teammate Julian Alaphilippe, engaged in the Tour de la Provence, is not in new shoes.

Cavendish’s shoes sit low at the ankle, appear to have a well-ventilated upper, a buckle on the top of the tongue, a relatively shallow heel cup, and no Velcro straps at the toe.

Cian Uijtdebroeks wore black shoes from Specialized which stood out from his teammates, who wore white shoes.
Cian Uijtdebroeks wore black shoes from Specialized which stood out from those of his teammates, who wore white shoes. The new S-Works shoes have a different ankle profile than the Ares, and what appears to be a shallower heel cup than the S-Works 7. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
These are not Specialized’s S-Works 7 or Ares shoes. Cian Uijtdebroeks’ shoes have two BOA dials and no Velcro straps on the toe box. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

“Black Project”

BikeNews Specialized asked about the shoes. The details were intentionally vague.

“Specialized relies on feedback from professional athletes to develop and test advanced pre-production products in real-world applications. Thanks to this high-level feedback, some of these products, or elements of their designs, end up appearing in future retail product offerings. We call it ‘Project Black’,” said Sierra Domaille, Specialized’s Head of Equipment and Public Relations.

Not every runner from Bora-Hansgrohe, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl or Team TotalEnergies has been seen wearing new shoes.

“There are no specific athletes or teams that are necessarily part of ‘Project Black’ because we work with athletes who are a good fit for the product. It speaks to the closeness to our teams and the value we place on them. grant as technical partners, not just as a sponsor,” said Kelly Henningsen, public relations manager for Specialized Performance.

To our discerning eyes, the Specialized S-Works shoes appear to have a low-rise mesh upper, dual BOA dials with no velcro toe straps, and appear to be available in black or white/black.

Some of these things are not like the others. Two of the Bora-Hansgrohe runners in the Challenge Mallorca 2022 wore black shoes, while their teammates wore a variety of white Ares shoe designs. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Considering these shoes are raced by all three of Specialized’s men’s WorldTour teams and have also been seen at the teams’ pre-season camps, it’s a safe bet we could see these shoes – call them S-Works 8 or whatever, since Specialized has yet to officially confirm – in production later in 2022.

And of course, female teams were also included in this product development process. Several members of the SD Worx team were also seen wearing Specialized’s unannounced new shoes.

BikeNews will keep up to date with the latest in cycling technology, so check back here for more as we learn from teams and manufacturers about the latest and greatest in cycling gear.



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