I first saw the latest Venge at the 2018 Étape du Tour départ in Annecy...

Trek had an enormous stand with all their new Madones in the full range of custom colours - they looked amazing glistening in the sun.

In comparison Specialized had a very pokey stand, and there was a lone black Venge.

It looked smart, but nothing very special and I called up the team in London and said that the Madone was amazing and we would sell loads...

Fast forward almost two years and we have probably sold 5x as many Venges as Madones, and I have grown to appreciate the stealth nature of the Venge. It doesn't shout; it doesn't have a crazy stem like a Cervelo S5, or the fancy shock-absorbing ISO-coupler tech of the Madone. It's purely designed to be a precision tool for going very fast.

Meanwhile I have fallen in love with the Tarmac; it's such a great all-rounder that it really can do everything, and thus I never felt the need for the aero-road specificity of a Venge myself. But recently I've been doing more fast group rides and races and I thought it would be great to see if the Venge hype was real...

Spoiler alert - it is!

It's a simply sensational bike. It loves to go fast; the spec on this S-Works build is spot-on, with the precise Di2 gruppo, Roval's superb CLX 64 wheels, supple, fast-rolling Turbo Cotton tyres and the S-Works carbon cranks with integrated power meter.

But what's most surprising to me is how balanced the bike is overall; yes it's impressively aero, but it's also staggeringly light; my 56cm comes in at 6.95kg - that's ridiculous for a true aero-optimised road bike.

It's super compliant as well; I do loads of 4-5 hour endurance rides on it and it does not beat you up at all. Some of the previous generations of Venge were flawed; they openly admit they had not mastered the art of making aero tubing ride well. That's not the case here - it just feels like a nice normal bike at cruising speed.

I love the front end; the bar/stem looks like its integrated but its not; and offers the ability to tilt bars a touch if you want.

The shape is great as well; they are very comfortable to climb on - though the lack of bar tape on the middle of the bar is noticeable when I am sweating! But the fact that the bar tape, or lack of it, is what I notice when climbing is testament to the capability of this aero road machine.

I did a number of 2000m+ climbing days on it; I honestly never once missed the Tarmac. That's quite an admission, considering the miles I've covered and affection I still have for the Tarmac.

The Venge looks incredibly clean and modern. I do love the Tarmac; but the front end is starting to look 'old' now, with its exposed cabling. Once you have a ultra-modern bike like this it's hard to unsee exposed cables anymore...

At coffee stops be prepared to answer a lot of questions on the bike; the consensus is that it looks great, and it's a real conversation starter!

I know I am rapidly becoming a Specialized fan boi - nothing would give me greater pleasure than to uncover a global exclusive that one of their S-Works bikes was actually a lemon... but they're not; and in fact they're on a real tear recently with a succession of perfectly judged new models filling out the range.

I can't think of a better two bike fleet (in terms of performance and breadth of ability) than a Team Roubaix and a Venge.