Swiss powerhouse Fabian Cancellara has already won Paris-Roubaix twice but if he were to do what most people expect of him on Sunday, it'll not only be his third cobblestone but the first one for American bicycle brand Trek – and the company is definitely very eager to add this long-elusive monument to its trophy case.
Trek has supplied Cancellara with the Team Issue Madone 6-Series SSL – essentially the same as what consumers can already purchase but subtly tweaked to better handle the rigorous demands of the pavé. Trek team liaison Ben Coates wouldn't go into specifics but based on what Trek has done in the past (and our own measurements), company engineers have increased the chain stays, fork length, and rake by a few millimeters, lending extra tire clearance all around and more stable footing on the cobbles.
Team bikes also get experimental rear derailleur hangers machined from hardened steel. The stiffer material not only improves shift performance slightly but also makes it more likely that Cancellara's bike will still be in tune after a crash – albeit with a minor weight penalty and the increased likelihood of dropout damage in a really bad wreck.
Speaking of shifting, Cancellara has passed over Shimano's ultra-techy Dura-Ace Di2 electronic group for the cobbled classics despite the benefits of weatherproof adjustments and optional bar top-mounted satellite shifters. Coates says Cancellara simply prefers the mechanical setup for the cobbles (and neither he nor team mechanic Roger Theel would elaborate further) but other Shimano-sponsored mechanics we spoke to suggested that the Di2 system could occasionally get "confused" on especially bumpy sections of pavé if the system is anything but perfectly adjusted – tough to say at this point if that conclusion is real or perceived but we'll bring you more on this situation as we get additional information.
Nevertheless, Cancellara's Dura-Ace setup was suitably hopped up with Shimano's rarely seen Yumeya package, including gold-anodized titanium hardware all around, milled-out and polished aluminum brake pad holders, and lighter-weight YM-SP91 housing plus Teflon-coated cables.
Much of the rest of Cancellara's bike is filled out using bits from Trek's in-house component and accessory arm, Bontrager, including the old-style anatomic-bend aluminum Race Lite handlebar, a long 140mm Race XXX Lite molded carbon fiber stem, bar tape, and a traditionally shaped Team Issue saddle recently developed using feedback from the Leopard Trek team.
According to Bontrager soft goods brand manager Tom Kuefler, the new Team Issue perch uses a similar shape to the company's old RXL model but updated with a carbon shell, new titanium rails, and extra-firm padding based on rider requests.
Interestingly, Cancellara's bike was fitted with Bontrager's ultralight Race XXX Lite shallow-profile carbon tubular wheels when we went to visit the team hotel two days before the race –more commonly seen on alpine stages of grand tours and something veteran mechanic Julien DeVriese never would have allowed at RadioShack, said Coates. However, Coates says that extensive testing by the team on the Roubaix cobbles has demonstrated their surprising toughness – though the massive 27mm-wide FMB Paris-Roubaix tubulars surely help, too.
Cancellara has a second set of Bontrager prototype carbon tubulars at his disposal if he chooses to use them on Sunday: a shallower version of the 50mm-deep prototypes we've previously spotted in the Leopard Trek camp. These share the extra-wide profile (roughly 25mm across), rounded nose, and blunt edges specifically engineered for impact resistance but with a shallower 36mm profile.
Coates wouldn't speculate which wheels Cancellara would use during the race but he did stress that neither of the new designs are simply rebadged rims from Zipp, HED, or anyone else. Instead, he says they're the result of the company's own exclusive in-house research and development including countless passes over the Roubaix cobbles and lots of high-speed camera work to learn more about what exactly happens to wheels during impacts (something Zipp also said it did during development of its groundbreaking 303).
Finishing touches include Speedplay Zero Titanium pedals, Enduro's latest XD-15 angular contact ceramic bottom bracket bearings – supposedly the most durable Trek has ever tested in its in-house lab, ceramic or otherwise – a custom anodized and etched AceCo K-Edge chain watcher, customized Trek Bat bottle cages, a Cane Creek headset, and not one, but two computers: a Bontrager Node 1 and an SRM PowerControl 7 (surely only one will make it to the start line).
Total weight as pictured is 7.45kg (16.42lb) – right in line with the lightest Paris-Roubaix bikes we've profiled in the past.
This story first appeared on Bikeradar.com