After a three-year run by Specialized, Cervélo reclaimed manufacturer bragging rights at Paris-Roubaix after a thrilling solo victory by Garmin-Cervélo's Johan Van Summeren aboard a subtly tweaked R3.
Aside from the huge frame size – Van Summeren rides a 61cm – the lanky Belgian's machine is nearly virtually identical to the one we recently profiled belonging to current world champion Thor Hushovd. Frame features include more highly refined versions of Cervélo's long-running Squoval tube shapes, an asymmetric BBright bottom bracket with integrated bearings, a tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 3/8" head tube, aggressively tapered chain stays, and the trademark spindly seat stays that are now a virtual trademark for Cervélo's workhorse road racer.
Subtle tweaks made for the cobbles include 1cm-longer chain stays, a broader fork crown, and 1cm more fork rake to lend extra tire clearance and more stable handling across the treacherous pavé – otherwise, Cervélo says the frame uses the same lay-up and carbon content as consumer frames.
The team-issue build kit features a nearly complete SRAM Black Red group (with a steel-caged front derailleur and PG-1070 cassette), Rotor 3D+ machined aluminum cranks and chain watcher, Gore Ride-On sealed cables and housing, Garmin's Edge 500 computer, Shimano Dura-Ace carbon pedals, and 3T's ARX Pro forged aluminum stem, Rotundo classic-bend aluminum handlebar, and highly secure secure Palladio Pro aluminum seatpost.
Sole changes from Hushovd's build include Rotor's elliptical Q-Rings (the first Paris-Roubaix for non-round chainrings, we believe) and a fi'zi:k Antares k:ium saddle (Hushovd runs an Arione).
Van Summeren's victory also marked a successful Paris-Roubaix debut for Mavic's new M40 carbon wheels – clad in bright yellow decals just for the race – which feature an extra-wide profile, a versatile 40mm depth, and tough bladed stainless steel spokes and brass nipples connected to sleek aluminum-bodied hubs front and rear.
As always for Paris-Roubaix, large-volume tubular tires with supple cotton casings were the ticket to surviving the cobbles. Van Summeren ran 27mm-wide FMB Paris-Roubaixs.
A closer look at Tom Boonen's Quick Step Eddy Merckx EMX-5
Crashes are a virtual certainty at Paris-Roubaix and several teams, like Tom Boonen's Quick Step squad, went with second-tier frames for the Hell of the North. Though generally slightly heavier than their flagship counterparts, these bikes also usually use more ductile carbon fiber blends that are less likely to break or crack when unceremoniously slammed into the ground.
Quick Step riders left Compiègne on the Eddy Merckx EMX-5 – a virtual clone of the top-end EMX-7, at least in terms of shape – with no modifications for extra tire clearance that we could see. Team bikes were fitted, however, with steel rear derailleur hangers for added toughness.
Tom Boonen has, of course, won Paris-Roubaix three times in the past and is still one of the best riders on the pavé so it's no surprise to see him stick with his tried-and-true equipment formula in addition to the Campagnolo Record group: double-wrapped aluminum bars (though with a newly compact bend) and an aluminum stem, traditional box-section aluminum tubular wheels, tight-ratio chainrings, and relatively large-volume tubular tires.
Boonen's bike was also fitted with a custom chain watcher though it didn't seem to work when it was really needed.
"In the Arenberg forest I had my first mechanical problem," he said in a team press release after the race. "My chain got stuck between the frame and the crankset and I had to wait almost two minutes for the flagship car."
Boonen may also want to rethink his cage choice next year, too.
"Then the incredible happened," he continued. "I was catching up to the group of the favorites after a long chase when the vibrations from the cobbles shook my water bottle loose and it ended up between the back wheel and the frame."
Cannondale debuts new Synapse frame with Liquigas at Paris-Roubaix
Liquigas debuted a new Cannondale Synapse at Paris-Roubaix with changes including reshaped stays, a new carbon fork, and a curious multi-piece interchangeable seatpost system.
Purported benefits of the restyled chain- and seat stays are obvious: more vertical give on rough ground. Slightly more raked-out fork blades reportedly do the same up front according to team liaison Rory Mason, while the actual front-end geometry remains unchanged thanks to more rearward-positioned fork tips.
Meanwhile, there's that odd seatpost setup. According to Mason, the removable aluminum head is designed to accommodate one of two available carbon shafts so that riders can tune in how much flex they want. Liquigas team bikes all featured the notably smaller-section carbon masts in comparison to the previous Synapse so we expect that these offered a substantial improvement in ride quality over the pavé.
The rear derailleur hanger also moves to a much stiffer sandwich-style construction to provide a more stable foundation – meaning better shifting and impact durability – for the SRAM Red rear derailleur.
Front triangles are unchanged and still use a straight 1 1/8" head tube.
Speaking of derailleurs, Liquigas team mechanics added a pair of extra aluminum bits to the front derailleur's mounting boss – one in between the derailleur and frame and the other between the custom chain watcher and frame. We weren't able to speak to team mechanics on their purpose but we can only assume it was done to both slightly reposition the cage in relation to the chainrings and provide a stouter attachment. Interesting.
Liquigas also went conservative on wheels, using Mavic Reflex aluminum box-section tubular rims and stainless steel spokes but wrapped in relatively small 25mm-wide FMB Paris-Roubaix tires. Bars were padded with both gel and foam before being wrapped in fi'zi:k Microtex tape.
Stijn Devolder's Vacansoleil-DCM Ridley Helium
Two-time Ronde Van Vlaanderen winner Stijn Devolder was treated to a custom painted Ridley Helium and specially covered Selle San Marco Regal saddle for Paris-Roubaix in celebration of his current status of Belgian national champion. The frame and fork looked standard to us otherwise and the build kit was essentially typical team-issue for the most part, including the SRAM Red group, Rotor 3D BB30 cranks (with elliptical Q-Rings), Deda bar and stem, and Look KéO pedals.
We're at a loss to explain the Tektro R725 U-brakes front and rear, though, as they don't offer any extra clearance over a set of standard road calipers and Paris-Roubaix's flat parcours doesn't require excessive braking.
The traditional wheels were built with Ambrosio Nemesis aluminum box-section tubular rims and were wrapped with Dugast Paris-Roubaix tires.
Teams cracks out the 'cross bikes
While there's a strong – and growing – contingent of teams and riders that have settled upon slightly modified standard road bikes for tackling Paris-Roubaix, as always there are those that instead opt for a full-blown 'cross chassis in hopes of surviving the brutal pavé. Oftentimes it's to get extra mud clearance for sloppy conditions but in this year's dry and warm weather, it was to allow the teams and riders the ability to run the increasingly bulbous tubular tires that just won't fit in most road bikes (even some slightly modified ones).
This year that group included at least three teams: Skil-Shimano, Saur-Sojasun, and Europcar.
Europcar used Colnago's Cross Prestige – the same full carbon fiber frameset that Sven Nys uses in World Cup cyclo-cross racing – outfitted with its usual Campagnolo Record 11 groups but with a few key substitutions for this special day. TRP supplied its ultralight EuroX Carbon cantilevers, gearing was adjusted for the flat parcours, and cages were swapped for Elite's sturdy Ciussi Gel.
All of the Europcar riders left Compiègne on deep-section Campagnolo Bora One carbon tubulars wrapped with ultra-fat 30mm Dugast Paris-Roubaix tires (labeled as Hutchinsons).
Meanwhile, Saur-Sojasun made the switch from its usual Time RXRS Ulteam to the company's now-discontinued Cross Pro Team. In addition to the aforementioned changes in handling and tire clearance, Time's Cross Pro Team was also likely much more comfortable on the cobbles given its comparatively small tube diameters and round-section seatmast. Time also gave each frame custom paint jobs with a different key pavé secteur name written across the top tube.
Build kits included the team's usual SRAM Red transmissions, Rotor cranks and chainrings (and chain keepers), FSA bars and stems, fi'zi:k saddles and Time pedals but as with Europcar, TRP subbed in with its ultralight EuroX Carbon wide-profile cantilevers. Team mechanics used a mix of steerer-mounted and apparently homemade crown-mounted housing stops for the front brakes, which occasionally required a hinged stem to achieve a suitably low rider position.
Saur-Sojasun definitely took the conservative approach to wheels with Ambrosio aluminum box-section tubular rims and stainless steel spokes, all wrapped with Dugast Paris-Roubaix tires.
Finally, Skil-Shimano brought out the specially made Cobble Crosser 'cross framesets it first used in last year's race. The TIG-welded, moderate-diameter scandium tubeset is said to offer a more resilient ride over the pavé while still being light, and there's of course lots of clearance for big tires and mud.
Skil-Shimano team bikes were outfitted with complete Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groups (save for the Shimano medium-profile cantilever brakes) and bar-top satellite shifters across the board, plus a full complement of PRO bars, stems, and seatposts. Team riders left Compiègne on 35mm-deep Shimano carbon tubulars wrapped with Michelin-branded tires.
This article originally appeared on BikeRadar.