Race tech: Paris-Roubaix, April 11, 2009
Subtle tweaks for Rabobank Giants
Rabobank sponsor Giant have adopted a familiar formula for the team's TCR Advanced SL ISP bikes at this year's Paris-Roubaix. Special aluminum dropouts extend the effective chain stay length by 7mm for additional tire clearance and more stability while new alloy fork tips with an extra 7mm of rake do the same up front. The forks themselves also have a slightly altered shape to confer a smoother ride while on the pave.
Most of the team will use Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 components though Sebastian Langeveld and Joost Posthuma will set off on the electronic Di2 version. On those bikes, the wires are routed internally through the frame courtesy of a pair of team-only access holes and the battery is mounted to two dedicated rivnuts on the non-driveside chain stay.
There are few surprises when it comes to the rest of the team's gear. Standard 32-hole Dura-Ace hubs are laced with Sapim butted stainless steel spokes and brass nipples to Ambrosio Nemesis aluminum box-section rims for a lightweight yet durable set of wheels that also yield more predictable braking performance than carbon. Wrapped around them are Vittoria's popular Pavé EVO-CG tubulars with a fat 27mm casing and slight file tread.
All of the team bikes we spotted were fitted with 53/44T chainrings and 11-23T cassettes to suit Paris-Roubaix's flat and fast course.
Total weight for Langeveld's bike is 7.58kg (16.71lb).
BBOX Bouygues Telecom expecting bad weather?
While most of the teams seem to be pulling out only slightly modified road bikes – or even just their standard rigs with cobble-specific wheels and tires – BBOX Bouygues Telecom riders were preparing to attack the course on full-blown mud machines.
We noted ample tire clearance throughout on the team's carbon framesets along with significantly extended chain stay, seat stay and fork lengths as compared to their usual road bikes. TRP EuroX Carbon cantilevers with carbon-specific pads were fitted at either end along with supplemental top-mount brake levers while top tube-routed cables keep control lines relatively safe from contamination.
Gearing is of the usual Paris-Roubaix variety with leg-busting 53/48T chainrings and 11-23T cassettes. Interestingly, team bikes were equipped with 10-speed Campagnolo Record, not the latest 11-speed stuff. The roughly 25mm-wide 'Michelin' Pro2 Race tubulars (Michelin doesn't actually make tubulars so these obviously come from elsewhere) continue the worst case scenario theme but interestingly, they were mounted to standard Campagnolo Bora Ultra wheels complete with deep-section carbon tubular rims.
Française des Jeux goes tubeless
We've long thought that Hutchinson's Road Tubeless technology was an ideal technology for Paris-Roubaix's tire-eating cobbles but it is only now that one team, Française des Jeux, has decided to use them across the board on race day.
Team mechanics were seen replacing the team's usual 23mm-wide Hutchinson Fusion 2 Road Tubeless tires with massive 28mm-wide Hutchinson Intensive Road Tubeless tires the Saturday before the race. The design is already inherently more resistant to catastrophic punctures than traditional clinchers – and nearly as safe as tubulars if a rider does completely lose pressure – and the team went one step further by adding in some latex sealant.
Most of the team will opt for Lapierre S-Lite frameset with its more generous chain stay length, fork rake and wheelbase for a more subdued handling and flattened chain stays and curved seat stays for additional flex over the cobbles. Additional tweaks include a higher rear brake bridge and longer fork blades for additional tire clearance, thus requiring long-reach brake calipers.
Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 componentry – and just a smattering of select 7800 bits – will be used throughout save for Matthieu Ladagnous who will use Di2. 53/44T chainrings and 11-23T cassettes will be the theme for the day.
Silence-Lotto's Canyon Ultimate Al Pavé
Silence-Lotto bicycle sponsor Canyon have released some preview information on the bikes their riders will use at this Sunday's Paris-Roubaix. Leif Hoste and his teammates will use a modified version of Canyon's Ultimate AL frameset, suitably dubbed the Ultimate AL Pavé.
Paris-Roubaix-specific tweaks will include a 10mm-longer top tube for a longer and more stable wheelbase, extra clearance on the driveside chain stay to accommodate the riders' preferred 46T inner chainring, a lighter and softer-riding One-One-Four SLX carbon fork borrowed from their Ultimate CF SLX frameset, and extra clearance between the chain stays to allow for cushy 28mm-wide tires.
Otherwise, the special Ultimate AL Pavé will reportedly use the standard version's 7005-series shaped and butted aluminum tubeset, including for the asymmetrical 'Maximus' seat tube which flares out further on the non-driveside for additional drivetrain rigidity while still leaving enough room on the other side for a front derailleur.
Canyon will also give the bikes a special graphics package. A large decal on the top tube lays out each section of pavé while the underside of the down tube creates a virtual reflection of the cobbles below.
"Since I was a young racer I was always fascinated by Paris-Roubaix, with the incredible racing of Francesco Moser and Roger De Vlaeminck," said Canyon founder Roman Arnold in a press release. "We are proud to have Canyon in Paris-Roubaix and wish the riders of Silence-Lotto, and the rest of the racers a safe and successful 106th Paris-Roubaix."
BMC to utilize two-platform approach for Paris-Roubaix
Wild card Pro Continental team BMC will outfit their riders with two different modfied framesets for Paris-Roubaix: the traditional Pro Machine SLC01 carbon fiber flagship plus the newer aluminum-and-carbon Racemaster SLX01. Team riders will be evenly split between the two.
A team press release makes no mention of specific frame modifications though all of the bikes will reportedly be fitted with special forks provided by team sponsor Easton. The carbon forks feature wider crowns for extra tire clearance and the lay-up has been modified to yield a softer ride. Team media official Georges Leuchinger says the team first tested the forks at KBC-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde early last month and were satisfied enough to run them at Roubaix.
Other Paris-Roubaix-specific gear will include new 11spd-compatible 44T inner chainrings from Campagnolo and new 25mm-wide tubular tires from Continental.