Norwegian powerhouse Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) is hoping to continue the upward trend of 2009 and 2010 with a top-step finish at this year's Paris-Roubaix. Sure to help things along is the same basic formula bike sponsor Cervélo has employed for the last several years to great effect, now applied to its revamped R3 chassis.
Cervélo has indeed made some major updates to its venerable standard R3, including more exaggerated tube shapes throughout, a tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 3/8" front end (rather than the more common 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" dimension that Cervélo says yields too harsh of a ride), carbon dropouts, and the company's clever BBright integrated bottom bracket standard – nearly identical to BB30 but with the non-driveside bearing pushed 11mm further out from the centerline of the frame for improved frame stiffness and axle support. Naturally, frame weights have dropped significantly, too.
Special changes to handle the cobbles and often – at least in years past – adverse weather conditions of Paris-Roubaix are surprisingly modest. Just as Cervélo has done under previous sponsored winners like Fabian Cancellara and Stuart O'Grady (2006 and 2007, both with Team CSC), chain stays have been lengthened by 10mm while a similarly massaged fork sports additional rake, longer blades, and a broader crown.
The combination yields extra tire clearance all around to accommodate the 27mm-wide FMB tubulars that Hushovd plans to run on Sunday and produces a longer wheelbase for more stable handling relative to a standard R3 while still maintaining overall balance between the front and rear wheels. Moreover, Cervélo says the frame is otherwise unaltered – meaning no special fiber lay-up schedules or additional bolstering – so the bike shouldn't feel all that different from a stock setup despite the highly unusual abuse Hushovd's machine is designed with withstand.
Coming from the Cervélo TestTeam side of the recent merger with Garmin-Transitions, Hushovd will also benefit from using similar componentry as in years past. SRAM's new Black Red group gets a new gloss black finish but is otherwise unchanged from the standard Red package while Hushovd should also be well accustomed to Rotor's clever 3D cranks (though here it's of the '3D+' variety to work with the BBright bottom bracket and gets a stiffer outer chainring than last year).
3T is carried over as well, with Hushovd running the company's ARX Team stem and Rotundo Pro bar – the same as last year – but switching from the company's carbon-shafted, two-bolt Dorico seatpost to an aluminum Palladio. Though we didn't receive any reports of Hushovd having seatpost-related issues last year, the Palladio's innovative head design should virtually guarantee against saddle slippage while mechanics will be able to clamp down more tightly on the aluminum mast. Just in case, though, they've also fitted an extra clamp atop the standard binder.
Hushovd has switched from Zipp to Mavic wheels but according to team mechanic Kris Withington, the two-time podium finisher plans on using the French company's latest M40 carbon wheels and enormous 27mm-wide FMB tubular tires for his next run at Paris-Roubaix. Similar in concept to the 303s Hushovd used last year, Mavic's new M40 sports a medium 40mm depth but an extra-wide profile that's designed for use with wider tires. The burly carbon lay-up is also supposedly tough enough to withstand the pounding of the pavé, too.
Interestingly, Hushovd was using Mavic's more conventional Cosmic Carbone SLR tubulars in the run-up to Roubaix the week prior. Withington says the SLR's new Exalith aluminum sidewalls still offer a very tangible advantage in braking performance – especially in the wet – and while the M40 apparently works great with wide tires, it's apparently so broad and wrap so far up the base of the tire that the team prefers them when used with more standard-width rubber.
Other changes include a move to Shimano Dura-Ace pedals, Garmin's Edge 500 computer, and Arundel stainless steel bottle cages. Naturally, Gore Ride-On sealed cables are fitted throughout, too.
Total weight has climbed relative to last year, too, from 7.10kg (15.65lb) to 7.62kg (16.80lb).
The bike has the pedigree and the guys at Cervélo seem to outdo themselves every year. On the day it comes down to Thor himself, but with a bike like this there can be no excuses from the world champion.
This article appeared on Bikeradar.com