It's a woefully overused cliché but it's still utterly appropriate: Fabian Cancellara's (Leopard Trek) Trek Speed Concept looks fast standing still - and thankfully Spartacus has the legs and lungs to back it up.
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Intimidating new machine for Spartacus, plus a look at his Madone
Leopard Trek strongman Fabian Cancellara is perhaps the most pampered rider in this year's Tour de France – at least in terms of equipment – with custom designed and finished Trek Madone 6.9 SSL and Speed Concept road and time trial bikes designed in collaboration with graphic artist Joshua M. Smith (a.k.a. "Hydro74"). While the bikes themselves are of course very different, both share a similarly menacing theme with a matte black base and an array of grey graphics playing off of Cancellara's "Spartacus" moniker.
Dark grey carved floral patterns are littered throughout the frame (and the rear disc in the case of the time trial bike) but the dominant visual features are the big Spartan helmets on the head tube and top tube, the threatening sword and lucky dice plastered on the stem, and a giant "Spartacus" logo on the top tube.
The broad and flat top tube leaves plenty of room for eye-catching graphics on Fabian Cancellara's custom Trek Speed Concept
Cancellara's road bike is dressed up even further with baby blue accents on the frame, headset spacers, and even the custom tire labels from Schwalbe, and both bikes receive the full Yumeya treatment from Shimano with gold anodized titanium bolts and even cable end caps.
As for the equipment itself, Trek has pulled out the stops for Leopard Trek's time trial wizard with its innovative Speed Concept. Rather than use true airfoil sections as was commonly done in the past, Trek instead uses Kamm tail truncated airfoils that supposedly mimic the aerodynamic performance of sections much deeper than what the UCI normally allows but with aspect ratios that are structurally better suited for weight and stiffness.
Trek say the Speed Concept's Kamm Tail tube shaping mimics the aerodynamic performance of a much deeper airfoil without violating UCI technical guidelines
The proprietary brakes are fully integrated into the external-steerer fork crown and chain stays, the bar and stem are present noticeably less frontal area than conventional setups, and all of the cabling is almost entirely internal from end to end for an ultra-clean surface throughout.
Save for the proprietary bits and the SRM crankset, Shimano provides most of the rest of the running gear in the form of its Dura-Ace Di2 electronic group, which is especially useful in this configuration with its multiple shift button location. It remains to be seen what wheels Cancellara will use for Saturday's decisive time trial but on the day we spotted it, his Speed Concept was fitted with a Carbonsports Lightweight carbon rear disc and Bontrager's new Aeolus 5 50mm-deep, wide-profile carbon tubular wheel up front.
Finishing bits include Speedplay Zero Stainless pedals, an SRM Power Control 7 computer, and a single Bontrager Speed Bottle (which supposedly actually improves aerodynamics over not having one mounted).
The rear wheel is covered with a big 'Bontrager' decal but underneath is a Lightweight disc
Position-wise, Cancellara's setup is notable for its emphasis on power. True, his position is plenty aerodynamic but the custom Prologo Nago Evo TTR saddle is pushed roughly 10mm further back than minimum UCI guidelines and the armrest pads are set relatively wide – especially when compared to someone like Garmin-Cervélo's David Zabriskie.
Total weight as pictured is 8.41kg (18.54lb).
Save for the custom finish and Yumeya accents, Cancellara's Trek Madone is essentially standard team-issue with two major exceptions: a SRAM PG-1070 cassette in lieu of the Shimano Dura-Ace equivalent (SRAM team liaison Alex Wassmann says he just likes the 11-26T ratio) and while the rest of Leopard-Trek happily uses Di2 there as well, the four-time time trial world champion instead sticks with the mechanical Dura-Ace group.
Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 time trial componentry allows Cancellara to shift from either the base bar or the extensions
Cancellara's choice of the mechanical Dura-Ace group is something we initially noticed back at the cobbled spring classics – along with a few other notable riders – but team spokesman Tim Vanderjeugd insists that, "It is a simply a matter of preference. Shimano offers the team the choice to use their components of choice. Fabian chooses to use mechanical Dura-Ace on his road bike simple because he prefers the feel. On the TT bike the Di2 offers a distinct advantage with multiple shift points and Fabian prefers to take advantage of that."
Complete bike specifications
Frame: Trek Speed Concept 9.9, size L
Fork: Bontrager SC
Headset: Trek Speed Concept integrated
Stem: Bontrager Speed Concept RXL direct mount, 100mm x 10°
Handlebars: Bontrager Speed Concept, 42cm (c-c), w/ custom straight extensions
Tape/grips: Bontrager cork
Front brake: Bontrager Speed Concept integrated w/ Bontrager carbon-specific cork pads
Rear brake: Bontrager Speed Concept integrated w/ Bontrager carbon-specific cork pads
Brake levers: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 ST-7971
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 FD-7970
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 RD-7970
Shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 ST-7971, SW-7971
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7900, 11-23T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7900
Crankset: SRM Wireless PowerMeter DuraAce 7900 Compatible, 177.5mm, 54/40T
Bottom bracket: Trek BB90 integrated with Enduro XD-15 bearings
Pedals: Speedplay Zero Stainless
Rear wheel: Carbonsports Lightweight Disc tubular
Front wheel: Bontrager Aeolus 5.0 tubular
Front tire: Schwalbe Ultremo HT tubular
Rear tire: Schwalbe Ultremo HT tubular
Saddle: Prologo Nago Evo TTR
Seat post: Bontrager Speed Concept Race X Lite, 50mm offset
Bottle cages: Bontrager Speed Bottle
Computer: SRM Power Control 7
Rider's height: 1.86m (6' 1")
Rider's weight: 82kg (181lb)
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 809mm
Saddle setback: 62mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 559mm
Seat tube length, c-c: -----
Tip of saddle nose to armrest center: 605mm (to armrest center)
Saddle-to-bar drop (vertical): 168mm (to armrests)
Head tube length: 127mm
Top tube length: 541mm (horizontal)
Total bicycle weight: 8.41kg (18.54lb)
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Tour de France