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Best Road Cycling Shoes in 2022: Top Picks and Buying Guide

There’s no doubt that road cycling is a fun and beneficial sport, but if you want to take your performance to the next level, you need to invest in the proper gear.

Starting with your feet, did you know that road cycling shoes are a thing? That’s right, these shoes are specifically designed to address the stability, security, comfort, and energy transfer requirements of road cycling.

The problem is that dozens upon dozens of models are available out there, so how do you find the best road cycling shoes for your needs and budget?

This is where our article comes in.

Today, we’re reviewing the top 9 road cycling shoes on the market and sharing a detailed buying guide to help choose the best pair. If you need help understanding what to look for in a road cycling shoe, jump to the bottom of the page for the buyers’ guide. Now, let’s jump in!

The 9 Best Road Cycling Shoes

  1. Fizik Vento Infinito Knit Carbon 2 Wide Road Cycling Shoe
  2. Shimano RC5 Road Cycling Shoes (Best Budget)
  3. Specialized S-Works Vent Road Cycling Shoe
  4. Bont Vaypor S Road Cycling Shoe
  5. Bont Riot Plus Road Cycling Shoes
  6. Sidi Alba 2 Road Cycling Shoe
  7. Giro Imperial Cycling Shoe
  8. PEARL iZUMi Tour Road Cycling Shoes
  9. Bontrager Circuit Road Cycling Sho

Let’s take a look at the specs, features, pros, and cons of each model.

1. Fizik Vento Infinito Knit Carbon 2 Wide Cycling Shoe Review

fizik vento infinito knit carbon 2 cycling shoe

Specs

  • Weight: 0.496 pounds (size 42)
  • Closure type: dual BOA dials
  • Colors: Black
  • Sizes: US men 4.25 to 13.75, women 5.25 to 10.75 (EU 36 to 48)
  • Sole: unidirectional carbon sole
  • Upper: knitted (synthetic)
  • Cleat compatibility: 3-bolt

Fi’zi:k, commonly spelled Fizik, is a well known cycling company that makes great products. I primarily know them for their bike saddles which are amazing but they also make cycling shoes and other cycling accessories.

There are a number of great Fizik Road Bike Shoes. Fizik makes all around great products so this is a great brand to check out if you’re in the market for cycling shoes. For this list of the best road cycling shoes, we chose the Fizik Vento Infinito Knit Carbon as our favorite.

fi’zi:k (Fizik) did a great job designing this shoe. They made it durable, lightweight and breathable all at the same time. For those that don’t know Carbon fibre is a very light weight metal used when trying to reduce weight on an item.

Using Carbon allowed them to have a durable shoe with the proper stiffness needed for road cycling, without making it too heavy.

The upper material of the shoe is made of a synthetic knited mesh for optimal breathability and comfort. Increased breathability is great for hot months, but can make your feet get cold if you’re riding in colder months. There are a few things you can do to keep your feet warm in cold months such as the foil trick and getting cycling shoe covers.

This Fizik shoe features dual BOA dials for quick adjustments and optimal fit. Having 2 BOA dials allows one to fine tune the fit better than many of the other shoes on this list.

Pros

  • Carbon Fibre Sole
  • Breathable Knitted Mesh
  • BOA Dial System

Cons

  • Price

2. Shimano RC5 Road Cycling Shoe Review

shimano rc5 road cycling shoes

Specs

  • Weight: 0.6 pounds (size 45)
  • Closure type: BOA dials and Velcro
  • Colors: White, black, blue
  • Sizes: US men 3.5 to 14, women 5 to 15.5 (EU 36 to 50)
  • Sole: Carbon/nylon (fiber–reinforced)
  • Upper: Mesh/thermoplastic polyurethane
  • Cleat compatibility: SPD-SL 3-bolt

Shimano is a renowned brand in the world of cycling, usually setting the industry standards for whatever gear it puts on the market.

The RC5 represents a middle ground between the higher-end RC7 and the lower-end RC3, combining affordability and functionality in a reliable package.

The carbon-nylon sole delivers all the stiffness needed for road conditions, whereas the mesh upper allows for efficient breathability to ensure a cooling effect.

As for the closure, you get a BOA dial that controls a durable cable across mid-foot while the toes are topped with Velcro closure to reduce cost without sacrificing much security.

The sizes of the Shimano RC5 are versatile, with options for men, women, and even wide feet.

Pros

  • Impressive stiffness and ventilation
  • Stylish design
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Adjusting the tongue needs some practice
  • Lacks micro-loosening

3. Specialized S-Works Vent Road Cycling Shoe Review

specialized s works vent road cycling shoe

Specs

  • Weight: 0.6 pounds (size 42)
  • Closure type: BOA dials
  • Colors: Black, white
  • Sizes: US men 3.5 to 15, women 5 to 16.5 (EU 36 to 49)
  • Sole: FACT Powerline carbon
  • Upper: Mesh
  • Cleat compatibility: 3-bolt, all major pedals

If you’re looking for a breathable design in your road cycling shoes to fight off the heat, then the Specialized S-Works Vent should be one of your top considerations.

Thanks to the all-mesh upper and the ventilated toe box, these cycling shoes provide remarkable airflow to keep your feet cool and dry. They’re equipped with dual BOA dials to help you achieve a snug fit.

It’s worth noting that if you get a highly breathable road cycling shoe, the shoe will be best during the summer. In the winter you’ll freeze your toes off if you don’t have shoe covers or use foil in your shoes to block the wind.

The shoe is also packed with multiple features that make it excellent for racing, including customized insoles carrying a metatarsal button, a stiff carbon outsole, a varus wedge, and a longitudinal arch. All these elements work together to maintain proper alignment and movement in your feet and legs.

Pros

  • Highly breathable design
  • Very comfortable when pedaling
  • Anti-slip heel tread

Cons

  • On the pricey side
  • The tongue tends to move out of place

4. Bont Vaypor S Road Cycling Shoe Review

bont vaypor s cycling road shoe

Specs

  • Weight: 0.5 pounds (size 42)
  • Closure type: BOA dials
  • Colors: Black, white, white/black, white/blue, black/blue, black/gold
  • Sizes: US men 3.5 to 14, women 5 to 15.5 (EU 36 to 50)
  • Sole: Carbon monocoque
  • Upper: Duralite
  • Cleat compatibility: 3-bolt, all major pedals

The Vaypor S by Bont has a lot of unique features to offer, but perhaps the most striking one is how anatomically accurate its design is. It’s shaped like a flipper or a bathtub, which helps it deliver support for the whole foot without using special arch wedges and footbeds.

The toe box is rounded and wide, which is a rare sight to see across road cycling shoes. This is great if you have broad feet or you simply appreciate some wiggle room for your toes.

Additionally, you get to customize the fit of this shoe to an ultra-personal level thanks to the heat-moldable sole. It softens at around 160 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can easily complete the process at home.

All you need to do is pop the shoe into your oven (minus the inner soles and the cleats) for about 15 minutes. Then put it on the shoe and wait until it goes back to room temperature.

What’s more, this road cycling shoe has a Duralite upper that’s both sturdy and ventilated. The fit adjustment is also on a premium level thanks to dual BOA dials and the wrap-around upper.

Pros

  • Excellent sole stiffness
  • Heat-molding allows for an ultra-personalized fit
  • Very low stack height

Cons

  • Not for cyclists on a budget
  • The toe box feels a bit too wide at first

5. Bont Riot Plus Road Cycling Shoe Review

bont riot+ road shoes

Specs

  • Weight: 0.58 pounds (size 42)
  • Closure type: BOA dials and Velcro
  • Colors: Black, white, gray, orange, blue/orange, green/blue
  • Sizes: US men 5 to 14, women 6.5 to 15.5 (EU 38 to 50)
  • Sole: Carbon composite
  • Upper: Microfiber
  • Cleat compatibility: 3-bolt, all major pedals

The Bont Riot Plus is a fantastic choice for cyclists on a budget looking to get performance-boosting features without breaking the bank.

These road cycling shoes are equipped with a carbon composite sole that isn’t just very stiff and durable, but it’s also heat-moldable. This means you can heat the shoe (minus the cleats and insole) in your oven at home for about 15 minutes at 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and then wear it until it cools down to achieve a truly personalized fit.

Besides the superior fit and the highly-efficient energy transfer when pedaling, the microfiber upper ensures your feet experience a cooling and moisture-wicking effect in hot or wet conditions.

What’s more, the closure system used on this Bont pair of shoes offers plenty of value for its price. The BOA dial is quite powerful and grants the ability to make micro-adjustments while the Velcro strap adds an extra layer of security for the toes.

Pros

  • Microfiber upper boosts breathability
  • Very affordable option
  • Lightweight design
  • Available in bright colors combinations

Cons

  • Lacks some support on the top of the foot
  • Can feel too snug

6. Sidi Alba 2 Road Cycling Shoe Review

sidi alba 2 road cycling shoes

Specs

  • Weight: 0.62 pounds (size 38)
  • Closure type: BOA dials and Velcro
  • Colors: White/black, white/black/red, black/red, black, yellow/black, gray/black
  • Sizes: US men 3.3 to 8.8, women 4.8 to 10.3 (EU 36 to 43)
  • Sole: Composite-reinforced carbon
  • Upper: Politex
  • Cleat compatibility: 3-bolt, all major pedals

When it comes to construction quality, not many brands can compete with Sidi. The Alba 2 is no exception, setting itself apart from other road cycling shoes with its exceptional craftsmanship and innovative design.

The upper features Politex material that shines like leather and has perforations on the sides to improve ventilation. It’s even treated to resist scratches and withstand years of use.

The composite-reinforced carbon sole is a premium addition to the shoe to provide optimal stiffness for road cycling and ensure maximum pedaling efficiency.

Additionally, the closure system is a combination of a single BOA dial on top and a couple of Velcro straps at the front and mid sections to deliver a secure fit for various foot shapes.

Pros

  • Toe and heel lugs can be replaced
  • Suitable for both beginners and experienced cyclists
  • High-quality sole

Cons

  • The BOA closure doesn’t extend to the forefoot
  • Not for wide feet

7. Giro Imperial Cycling Shoe Review

giro imperial cycling shoe

Specs

  • Weight: 0.49 pounds (size 42.5)
  • Closure type: BOA dials
  • Colors: Red, white, black
  • Sizes: US men 6.5 to 13.5, women 7.5 to 10.5 (EU 39 to 48)
  • Sole: Carbon
  • Upper: Mesh/one-piece Synchwire
  • Cleat compatibility: 3-bolt, all major pedals

The Giro Imperial is among the lightest road cycling shoes out there, so they’re great for covering long distances.

There aren’t one but two BOA dials, which allow cyclists to make super-fine adjustments for an extremely personalized fit. The arrangement of the cable guides ensures support and uniform distribution of tension while preventing hot spots.

The carbon sole is specially engineered for stiffness without sacrificing responsiveness, effectively eliminating unwanted flexibility and boosting comfort. Additionally, the upper has mesh sections to enhance airflow and reduce sweating.

Pros

  • One of the most lightweight models on the list
  • Very rigid outsole
  • Highly secure and adjustable closure

Cons

  • Quite expensive

8. PEARL iZUMi Tour Road Cycling Shoe Review

pearl izumi tour road cycling shoes

Specs

  • Weight: 0.45 pounds (size 42)
  • Closure Type: Laces
  • Colors: Black, white
  • Sizes: US men 8.5 to 13, women 10 to 11.5 (EU 42 to 48)
  • Sole: Carbon fiber/nylon
  • Upper: Rubber
  • Cleat compatibility: SPD SL 3-bolt and SPD 2-bolt

The first thing you may notice in the PEARL iZUMi Tour is the all-lace closure system. Other than providing an accurate fit for the average road cyclist, it’s also easy to adjust and gives a retro vibe to its stylish look.

Granted, laces aren’t the most consistent or secure closure out there, but this shouldn’t be a major issue if you’re not racing or frequently covering long distances. If you are racing or ride very long distances, we recommend one of the BOA designs.

Additionally, the combination of carbon fiber and nylon in the sole makes for good stiffness and efficient power transfer.

The dual cleat compatibility lets you pick your preferred pedal style whereas the ventilation and drainage technology built into the shoe’s bottom boosts comfort when riding through different weather conditions.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly price tag
  • Laces give an “old school” look
  • The most lightweight option on the list

Cons

  • Laces aren’t as capable as dials when it comes to making micro-adjustments and holding tension
  • Not the best for racing

9. Bontrager Circuit Road Cycling Shoe Review

bontrager circuit road cycling shoe

Specs

  • Weight: 0.58 pounds (size 42)
  • Closure type: BOA dials and Velcro
  • Colors: Black, white, red, yellow, navy/coral
  • Sizes: US men 3.5 to 14.5, women 5 to 16 (EU 36 to 48)
  • Sole: Nylon composite
  • Upper: Mesh/thermoplastic polyurethane
  • Cleat compatibility: SPD SL 3-bolt and SPD 2-bolt

Last but not least, we have the stylish, reliable, and decently priced Bontrager Circuit.

With a stiffness index of 7/14, this road cycling shoe hits the sweet spot of rigidity — sufficiently stiff for comfortable road biking with just enough flexibility to accommodate everyday cycling.

It works with both 2-bolt and 3-bolt pedals, giving you more freedom when it comes to riding using your preferred pedal style. It offers a roomier fit thanks to the inForm Race last, which is great news if you have wider feet.

The single BOA dial closure is accompanied by a Velcro closure to boost snugness for a better fit. Additionally, the relief cuts and cable guides provide a dynamic fit and reduce pinching.

Pros

  • The versatile cleat compatibility gives more freedom for pedal choices
  • Comes in vibrant colors, including yellow for visibility
  • Affordable compared to other models

Cons

  • Not ideal for narrower feet
  • Lacks two-direction dial adjustment

What Are Road Cycling Shoes?

bont riot+ road shoes

You’d be surprised at how many riders don’t know about road cycling shoes, so let’s get the introduction out of the way first before we get into any details.

We’ll start by breaking up the term into “road” and “cycling shoes”. This obviously gives the idea that road cycling shoes are a special type of footwear that’s meant to be worn when you’re cycling on a road, as opposed to a mountain route or unpaved terrain.

But what exactly does this mean? How are cycling shoes different from any other sports shoes? And how are road cycling shoes different from triathlon cycling shoes or mountain biking shoes?

Well, cycling shoes are specifically designed to accommodate the needs of people doing the sport. They’re built to provide athletes and hobbyists with the required support, stability, and comfort when riding a bike.

As such, cycling shoes can boost the performance of the cyclist or biker in more and better ways than casual sneakers or other types of shoes can. They also offer improved speed, efficiency, and overall cycling experience, so you’ll end up enjoying the ride a lot more.

Road cycling shoes are designed with some particular tweaks that make them more suitable for road conditions. Typically, their soles are low-profile, smooth, and have one or no lugs or grips, whereas their uppers are fairly ventilated to keep your feet cool and dry in hot weather.

The unique anatomy of road cycling shoes includes the following points:

  • They feature something called a “cleat” on the bottom of the shoe which features clip-in or clip-less technology. The purpose of this structure is to better connect your shoes and feet with the pedals, so they don’t slip off while you’re pedaling and create a more fluid motion as you push and pull the pedals.
  • They possess thinner and stiffer soles (clip-in models are usually more rigid) to minimize bending as you pedal for improved efficiency.
  • They feature multiple closure mechanisms to ensure that your feet stay in place on the pedals and avoid slipping.

Why Use Road Cycling Shoes

Now that you’re familiar with what road cycling shoes are, you’re probably wondering something along the lines of “do they really make a difference?” or “do I really need them?”.

To help you make up your mind, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using road cycling shoes in this section.

Advantages

  • Better feet security — thanks to the way they’re designed with clips and/or cleats, road cycling shoes offer improved security for your feet, keeping them on the pedals.

This helps minimize slipping when pedaling, especially if it’s raining or in other wet conditions where regular sports shoes easily slip off pedals.

  • Better stability — the design of road cycling shoes also makes for added stability while pedaling. This grants cyclists more control over the bike and the ride, which is particularly important for beginners.
  • Less focus on the positioning of feet — the security and stability provided by the design of road cycling shoes allow cyclists to shift more of their focus on their tempo, rhythm, and speed rather than having to concentrate on avoiding slipping accidents.
  • Enhanced responsiveness — with improved security, stability, and control, cyclists get to feel more “one” with their bikes as it responds better to their directing and foot actions.
  • More comfort — while the soles of road cycling shoes are more rigid than other types of cycling shoes, this stiffness is exactly what makes them more comfortable when pushing against pedals.

If your shoes were too flexible, you won’t be able to properly manipulate the pedals, leading to a significant reduction in efficiency.

Additionally, road cycling shoes feature plenty of ventilation in their uppers to support adequate airflow to keep your feet dry and cool in hot conditions.

  • Improved energy transfer efficiency — speaking of efficiency, the more rigid soles of road cycling shoes allow for the transfer of more power from your foot to the pedal, resulting in reduced loss of energy and enhanced efficiency with each stroke.
  • Less risk of injury and fatigue — because of the stiffness of the sole and the secure footing offered by the design of road cycling shoes, your feet are less prone to injuries due to slipping.

Also, since your legs don’t have to work as hard to keep your feet in place, the chances of cramping and fatigue are significantly decreased.

  • Versatile use — the design of the cleats on many models of road cycling shoes allows for the efficient use of the same pair in both outdoor roads and indoor gyms or cycling studios.
  • More durability — road cycling shoes are built to endure intense pedaling for long periods over regular sessions. Their materials and stitching are meant to withstand the wear and tear of cycling, so they offer a lot more longevity compared to other sports shoes.
  • More aerodynamic body position — last but not least, the security of your footing when you’re biking while wearing designated road cycling shoes makes it easier for cyclists to lower their torso and bend towards the handlebars. The result is a more aerodynamic body position that reduces resistance against air and helps you pick up your speed.

Disadvantages

  • Difficult to walk in — the biggest issue with road cycling shoes doesn’t have anything to do with the biking experience, but it appears when you get off the bike and start walking in them. I can’t count the number of times I almost fell when I first started wearing road bike shoes.

Due to the stiffness of the soles featured in road cycling shoes, they can be quite hard to walk in. There’s pretty much no “give” when you step on the ground and it doesn’t help that the added cleats are significantly wider than in other cycling shoes.

As such, if you plan on parking your bike and then walking around, you’ll want to bring an extra pair of shoes to keep your feet comfortable.

  • Tricky to put on and take off — if you’re not already familiar with wearing cycling shoes, then you can expect a hassle when putting on and taking off your pair for some time until you get used to them.

Things can get even trickier if you choose a clip-in model because you’ll have the extra chore of fastening the shoes onto the pedals and then detaching them when you’re done. If you keep getting on and off the bike, you’ll have to clip and unclip every time, which can quickly become frustrating.

As such, it’s best to save your clip-in road cycling shoes for rides when you know you’ll cover a long distance and will stay on the saddle most of the time.

  • Added cost — while most people own a pair of sneakers or casual sports shoes, a lot of them don’t have special cycling shoes – let alone ones dedicated to biking on roads.

The reason for this can be that they’re not regular cyclists, so there’s no point in spending extra money on special shoes. However, another reason could be that they don’t want the added cost of purchasing cycling shoes. This is in part due to the cost of the shoes, but you also have to purchase pedals that go with your shoes. This makes getting road cycling shoes very expensive and detering.

This is understandable, but most cyclists who’ve tried cycling shoes could never go back to other shoes. Plus, road cycling shoes are durable and will last you a long time. Not to mention, they’ll take the stress off of the shoes you use for cycling, boosting their longevity as well.

How to Choose the Best Road Cycling Shoes

Choosing the best road cycling shoes demands research to ensure that you get the right pair for your biking needs. The following are the most important points and features to keep in mind when comparing different models:

Sole

First of all, you need to understand what to look for in the sole of the shoes. To be suitable for road cycling, your shoes should feature a high level of stiffness.

Rigidity or stiffness is essential for road cycling as they allow you to efficiently stroke the pedals with maximum power every time.

A stiff sole ensures that practically no energy is lost when you pull and push your foot against the pedal, resulting in optimal energy transfer.

Not to mention, a stiff sole will boost the comfort you feel as you pedal because your foot doesn’t bend against its surface and your leg doesn’t struggle to deliver more power in your strokes.

If the sole was flexible like other types of cycling shoes, such as mountain biking shoes, the efficiency of pedaling would drastically drop as your foot bends with each push/pull.

As such, road cycling shoes will feature soles made out of materials treated for extra rigidity. The most common is carbon and nylon composite.

Upper

A lot of beginner cyclists focus too much on the sole and the bottom of their cycling shoes and overlook the details of the upper. However, the upper is important to consider as it’s key for comfort, support, tension distribution, and cooling.

The upper of your road cycling shoes should provide zonal support across the midfoot to give you a higher sense of stability and control. It should also feature properly positioned lace/cable guides to ensure even distribution of tension and prevent hot spots and pinching.

The upper should also allow for adequate ventilation. This is key for keeping your feet cool and dry in hot conditions.

Common materials for uppers in road cycling shoes are microfiber, mesh, and TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane).

Closure

The closure system on the road cycling shoes affects your comfort and how easy you can put on and take off the shoes.

Generally, there are 5 main types of closures used in this type of shoe. You can find one or a combination of these closure systems as follows:

  • Velcro — one of the most popular closure systems across road cycling shoes, especially the more affordable models, is Velcro. Also known as the “hook and loop” closure, this system is easy to figure out and adjust (even mid-ride!)

Additionally, Velcro closure is lightweight and can provide personalized snugness at various parts of the shoe.

The downside is that it can lose its grip with repeated use or under wet conditions. It can also accumulate dust, dirt, and other debris that can be tricky to clean up.

  • Laces — another widely popular closure system you’ll find across road cycling shoes is none other than laces.
black and white road shoes with laces

While being lightweight and straightforward to use, lace closure also offers a signature “old school” look that many cyclists appreciate. Since they can be tightened more precisely, they’re better when it comes to creating a snug fit.

Laces are easy to clean by taking them out and throwing them in the washing machine. Additionally, they’re easy to replace if they get torn or damaged and they’re available in many colors for a customized appearance.

The downside to laces is that, unlike Velcro, they’re difficult to adjust during the ride. Not to mention, the knot can lose its tension with time.

  • Dials — one closure type that practically on every road cycling shoe, especially those meant for high performance, is dials.

Here, the shoe’s fastening system is equipped with a small rotating knob, which connects to a cable that resembles laces down the upper of the shoe.

When you turn the knob in one direction, it pulls the cable to give you a tighter fit. When you turn the knob in the opposite direction, it loosens the tension of the cable.

The benefits of dials are unmatched by any other closure system. They don’t just offer the most tension for fastening and the highest level of micro-adjustments of the fit, but they’re also hassle-free to tweak while riding and they’ll securely stay in place once locked.

Additionally, replacing or fixing dials is a simple enough task. This helps overcome the disadvantage of getting damaged or jammed.

There are several brands of dial closures out there, but the most widely used dial system on cycling shoes in the medium and high price tier is BOA.

white road bike shoes fast laces
  • Ratchets — while they do offer a highly secure fit, ratchets don’t provide a very impressive level of snugness for cyclists looking to achieve a “second skin” sizing. Other than that, this closure system is praised for its durability over long periods of use.

As such, ratchets are rarely featured alone across road racing shoes. They’re usually combined with dials or laces, located upwards on the shoe.

  • Fast laces — fast laces are an adaptation of traditional laces to make them quicker to adjust and sit in place more securely. They come with a pull tab and a tension lock, allowing you to pull the laces until you reach the desired snugness and then lock the laces to keep the tightness.

Fast laces are lightweight and easy to use. They’re convenient when it comes to mid-ride tweaking and they won’t lose tension as fast as regular laces, even in harsh conditions.

Cleat Compatibility

road shoe cleats

Finally, the cleats on your road cycling shoes should be compatible with the type of pedals you use on your bike.

Typically, SPD SL-type pedals are what road cyclists use due to their significantly lighter weight. These pedals feature 3 points of attachment, so they require cleats with 3 bolts.

Wrap Up

No road cycling performance is complete without the right shoes. Our recommendation for the best road cycling shoes is the Fizik Vento Infinito Knit Carbon Shoe.

These shoes feature impressively stiff soles, breathable knit upper, and a dual BOA dial. Although, they are a bit more on the expensive side.

If you’re looking for the best road cycling shoe on a budget, we would recommend the Shimano RC5, it’s a great shoe and doesn’t break the bank.

I hope this guide has helped you either choose your new road bike shoe or at least narrowed down your options. Happy Riding!

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