The UCI technical rule mandating production-only gear for riders in competition has prompted more riders this year to use full-blown 'cross chassis to tackle the cobbles, in contrast to the often Frankenstein-like custom creations created in years past. One such rider is BBox-Bouygues Telecom rider William Bonnet.
Despite a weather forecast calling for good conditions this Sunday, the pavé still places greater demands than what most standard road fare can handle. Compared to Bonnet's usual Colnago CX-1, the Cross Prestige he intends to use for Paris-Roubaix boasts a longer wheelbase and slightly more relaxed angles for more stable handling, a taller bottom bracket for additional clearance (several sections of pavé are notoriously crowned), and most importantly, plenty of room to run high-volume tubular tyres without fear of them clogging up with mud.
Naturally, the 'cross-specific frame and greater clearances also dictate the use of cantilever-type brakes but Bonnet's TRP EuroX Carbon arms don't actually add any weight as compared to the Campagnolo Record ones that came off – and in fact, they may even be lighter were it not for the supplemental Cane Creek Crosstop levers mounted on the FSA Wing Pro Compact bars.
Matching TRP Inplace Adjust pad holders allow for proper toe-in adjustment for better braking, too, though team mechanics did manage to jam Campagnolo brake blocks into the Shimano-specific slots.
Other bits that may prove beneficial in case of muddy conditions include the top tube-routed cables that should help maintain shifting performance and the custom brazed chain watcher to help keep Bonnet moving forward on the cobbles.
Riders oftentimes reserve such special machines just for Paris-Roubaix but Bonnet actually raced his Cross Prestige at the preceding Ronde van Vlaanderen and Scheldeprijs races as well, presumably to log as many hours as possible on it in competition before the big day.
Campagnolo Bora Ultra deep-section carbon tubulars and narrow Hutchinson tires were installed the morning of Scheldeprijs (which is pan-flat from start to finish and with virtually no cobbles) but we fully anticipate something more traditional before Sunday's race sets off from Compiegne, France.
Gearing is standard-issue Paris-Roubaix with 53/44T chainrings and a relatively tight 11-25T cassette.