Since beginning his partnership with the Italian ISD team, Mario Cipollini has graduated from designing a striking team kit to now supplying the riders with frames.
Five of the six ISD riders that competed at last month's Tour of Britain were riding the current RB800 frameset, which conforms to a conventional diamond design, but Pierpaolo De Negri had a pre-production example of the 2011 MCipollini RB1000.
At first sight, the RB1000 looks more like a time trial chassis than a road frame, such are the number of aerodynamic features. From the leading edge of the head tube to the fork blades, and the rear-wheel-following seat tube, drag cheating designs rule.
In keeping with the flamboyant character of the Lion King, and former fastest sprinter in the world, everything about the RB1000 shouts ‘look at me!’ It looks appropriately brash, bold and aggressive, making quite a statement.
Curiously, this version of the frame only has one set of bottle bosses, which must have made extra work for whoever had to collect the drinks during the race. Production models will have provision for two cages.
The down tube is heavily shaped around the fork crown and front wheel, changing from a triangular aero section into a massive square shape by the bottom bracket, swallowing the BB30 shell and giving enormous rigidity.
The head tube area is extra chunky due to De Negri’s frame size, and the juncture of the seatstays, seat tube and top tube is similarly huge. A tapered steerer tube provides positive handling, and an integrated seatmast helps keep the weight down to the UCI minimum.
Appropriately for an Italian team, the Cipollini machine is fitted with a Campagnolo Record 11-speed groupset, only deviating with the FSA BB30 bottom bracket and K-Force Light carbon chainset. FSA keep the finishing kit Italian, supplying their K-Force Light 50mm-deep tubular carbon wheels, handlebar and stem.
BB30 bottom bracket swamped by carbon.
Selle Italia provide an SLR saddle, and the only components which deviate from the Italian theme are the Time iClic carbon pedals and SwissStop carbon-specific brake pads. Reliable Vittoria Corsa Evo CX tubulars give excellent all-round road performance and keep everything shiny side up.
Internal cabling gives clean lines and assists the frame’s slippery characteristics. The rear dropouts are carbon but have an aluminium inner face, which is held in place by two bolts on the non-driveside and three on the driveside, which also secure the rear derailleur hanger.
De Negri is a diminutive rider from Spezia, a rolling region near Genoa in Italy, who can climb well and packs a decent sprint from a small group. For that reason he likes this bike because it's so stiff, making the most of his power inputs. When asked if it was also comfortable, he said: "Not so much." A sacrifice he was willing to make in return for the performance advantage.