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What's more decadent at the Tour: an £89k watch or diamond-encrusted sunglasses?

2 Sep 2020

What is more decadent: racing in a watch worth £89,000 or standing on the podium in a set of diamond-encrusted sunglasses worth £4,449? We ask because both of these things have been present in the opening days of the Tour de France.

The rather expensive watch is being worn by Julian Alaphilippe. With the Deceuninck-QuickStep rider in the Maillot Jaune, you will have likely spotted the rather chunky, blue-strapped watched adorning his left wrist as he bobs around the front of the peloton.

Well, as confirmed by CyclingTips at the weekend, it is, in fact, a Richard Mille RM67-02 automatic Swiss watch that retails for just £89,000, the value of approximately 8.4 Specialized Tarmac SL7s, the bike the swashbuckling Frenchman races on.

You may question why Alaphilippe is racing with a rather clunky watch attached to his wrist?

Well, Richard Mille boasts that the RM67-01 is one of the lightest automatic watches in its range. At just 32 grams thanks to its carbon and titanium components, it is finished with hands and a bezel in the French tricolour.

It also appears that Alaphilippe is one of the brand's sporting ambassadors, alongside the likes of sprinter Wayde Van Niekerk and race car driver Fernando Alonso, and probably gets paid a pretty penny to wear the watch too.

While expensive timepieces are part and parcel of sports like boxing and tennis, where the athletes are usually more extrovert, you would be wrong to assume that fancy Swiss watches are rare in professional cycling.

In fact, Richard Mille is currently a co-sponsor of the Bahrain-McLaren team, who are racing in Mille watches at this year's Tour too, and has long worked with British sprinter Mark Cavendish.

Also, remember the old BMC team were previously sponsored by Tag Heuer and saw the likes of Greg Van Avermaet racing in its watches. And seven-time Monument winner Fabian Cancellara, he was partial to racing in very expensive IWC Swiss watches, too.

Also, long before the advent of GPS computers, riders such as Jaques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx would sport fetching leather-strapped watches to keep tabs on whether they will be home in time for tea.

However, what is rare is diamond-encrusted, gold-plated sunglasses, just like the Scicon ones Alexander Kristoff was spotted wearing on the podium in Nice.

When the UAE-Team Emirates rider went to collect his yellow jersey after victory on Stage 1, perched above his team cap was a pair custom-made Scicon Sports Aerowing sunglasses, gold-plated and with 18 cut diamonds on each arm, costing around £4,449, which modern parlance would describe as 'boujee'.

Kristoff, of course, is no King of Bling and was just being used to mark the release of Scicon's Aerowing sunglasses, which dropped just ahead of the Tour de France and are being worn by Israel Start-Up Nation and NTT Pro cycling as well as UAE-Team Emirates.

Scicon, best known for its bike bags, has also been sorting Kristoff out with special yellow and green sunglasses during his stints in those jerseys. 

And arguably more elaborate than racing in a watch worth £89,000 or trotting around the podium in a set of sunglasses worth £4,449, is racing in a set of cycling shoes that cost £1,015.

According to cycling shoe obsessive Velokicks, a certain General Classification rider, rumoured to be a former ski jumper, will be using a special set of Berk Composite cycling shoes throughout the Tour de France.

They weigh a featherweight 175g in a size 42, they are among the lightest shoes worn in the professional peloton, especially the lace versions which save 45g per shoe.

Although, these kicks from Berk Composites have nothing on Lotto-Soudal's Adam Hansen and his own Hanseeno shoes which at 73 grams and around £1,800, are both more expensive and lighter.