Top-level professional road cyclists are no strangers to exorbitantly expensive machines but even among this elite crowd, Tom Danielson's (Garmin-Cervélo) Cervélo R5ca can be considered an extravagant luxury with a retail price of US$9,800 – for just the frameset – and a limited production of just 300 units per year.
That price tag brings with it some amazingly tantalizing performance credentials though, including a claimed frame weight of under 700g – with paint, derailleur mounts, seatpost collar and water bottle bolts – Cervélo's latest extra-wide BBright oversized bottom bracket system, a tapered 1 1/8-to-1 3/8in front end and matching all-carbon fork made by German carbon specialist THM, carbon fiber housing stops, and even a new lower-friction cable guide for easier shifting.
Add in the company's trademark 'squoval' tube shaping, especially svelte seat stays, and dramatically tapered chain stays, and the result is possibly the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio of any bike in Cervélo's lineup but coupled with the characteristically smooth ride of the rest of the 'R' family.
Danielson calls nearby Boulder, Colorado home and is looking to put his stamp on the inaugural race once it hits the high mountains so it's no surprise that his bike just barely meets UCI guidelines for weight, pegging our scales at just 6.82kg (15.04lb) with a Garmin Edge 500 computer strapped to the stem.
Build kit consists of SRAM's top-end Red shifters, derailleurs and brakes, a Shimano Dura-Ace chain and cassette, a Rotor 3D+ crankset with an SRM power measuring chainring spider, Mavic Cosmic Carbone Ultimate carbon tubulars, a fi'zi:k Arione CX Carbon Braided saddle, and 3T's ARX Pro stem, Rotundo Pro traditional-bend bar, and Doric Team seatpost.
Topping things off are Gore's Professional System sealed derailleur cables and housing, Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SL carbon pedals, tubular tires with Mavic hot stamps, Arundel Mandible carbon bottle cages, and
According to team mechanic Geoff Brown, Danielson doesn't have any particularly special setup or equipment requests.
"Nothing unusual," he told BikeRadar. "Nothing that wouldn't normally expect beyond doing the regular setup. He just asks that it works correctly."
That may be the case but one measurement does stand out in our eyes: Danielson's 175mm-long crankarms, which seem unusually long given his 1.78m (5ft 10in) height. Brown says Danielson has no problems maintaining a high cadence with them, however.
"Have you seen how long his legs are?" he said.
However, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge's generous allotment of climbing – much of which is at a higher altitude than most of the peloton has ever experienced in a race – does have the Garmin-Cervélo team reaching for larger cassettes than they typically use. Even a climbing specialist like Danielson is planning on spinning lower gear ratios.
"Like most of these guys now, he's a high-rev guy so we're going to running 27s or 28s most of the week on the back end," said Brown. "That'll be the standard issue."
This article appeared first on BikeRadar.com.