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Alberto Contador's Astana Trek 6 Series Madone

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Contador's saddle starts out life as a standard Selle Italia SLR Team Issue…

Contador's saddle starts out life as a standard Selle Italia SLR Team Issue… (Image credit: James Huang)
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Munoz has been in the business for over thirty years and has definitely learned a few things during his tenure.

Munoz has been in the business for over thirty years and has definitely learned a few things during his tenure. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The hands of one of the best bicycle mechanics in the world, Faustino Munoz, and some of his favorite tools that have accompanied him through the years.

The hands of one of the best bicycle mechanics in the world, Faustino Munoz, and some of his favorite tools that have accompanied him through the years. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Munoz uses this silicon spray around the brake calipers to keep grit from sticking to the arms.

Munoz uses this silicon spray around the brake calipers to keep grit from sticking to the arms. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek team liaison Ben Coates weighs an Astana team bike to make sure it is exactly 6.8kg - and not a gram less.

Trek team liaison Ben Coates weighs an Astana team bike to make sure it is exactly 6.8kg - and not a gram less. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Astana team uses these clever machined lead inserts in case they need to bring a bike up to weight.

The Astana team uses these clever machined lead inserts in case they need to bring a bike up to weight. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The plug is inserted right into the bottom bracket spindle and is securely fixed in place like an old quill stem.

The plug is inserted right into the bottom bracket spindle and is securely fixed in place like an old quill stem. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Contador prefers the versatile VR bend of Bontrager's Race XXX Lite carbon bar.

Contador prefers the versatile VR bend of Bontrager's Race XXX Lite carbon bar. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Munoz is not only fast when applying bar tape but also virtually flawless in execution.

Munoz is not only fast when applying bar tape but also virtually flawless in execution. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Bontrager has added a bit of forward sweep to the latest edition of its Race XXX Lite drop bar but Contador apparently prefers the straight tops of last year's version.

Bontrager has added a bit of forward sweep to the latest edition of its Race XXX Lite drop bar but Contador apparently prefers the straight tops of last year's version. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Contador's new Madone uses Trek's BB90 integrated bottom bracket system but a little extra massaging by his mechanic plus some Enduro ceramic bearings make it phenomenally smooth.

Contador's new Madone uses Trek's BB90 integrated bottom bracket system but a little extra massaging by his mechanic plus some Enduro ceramic bearings make it phenomenally smooth. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Bontrager carbon-specific cork pads are fitted to SRAM Red brake calipers.

Bontrager carbon-specific cork pads are fitted to SRAM Red brake calipers. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Munoz first applies some medium-weight oil to Contador's Shimano Dura-Ace chain then adds a layer of grease on top to help seal it in.

Munoz first applies some medium-weight oil to Contador's Shimano Dura-Ace chain then adds a layer of grease on top to help seal it in. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Contador's SRAM Red crankset runs with a remarkably low level of friction thanks in part to Enduro ZERØ hybrid ceramic bearings but also some 'special work' by Munoz.

Contador's SRAM Red crankset runs with a remarkably low level of friction thanks in part to Enduro ZERØ hybrid ceramic bearings but also some 'special work' by Munoz. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The custom component finish carries through to the non-driveside crankarm.

The custom component finish carries through to the non-driveside crankarm. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Internal routing makes for a cleaner appearance but also helps protect the cables from contamination.

Internal routing makes for a cleaner appearance but also helps protect the cables from contamination. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek continues to use aluminum dropouts rather than carbon fiber, citing their supposedly better durability.

Trek continues to use aluminum dropouts rather than carbon fiber, citing their supposedly better durability. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Contador's SRAM Red group gets a special white graphics treatment.

Contador's SRAM Red group gets a special white graphics treatment. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The new 6 Series Madone can accept the clever DuoTrap integrated speed and cadence wireless sensor and transmitter but Contador has opted to go without.

The new 6 Series Madone can accept the clever DuoTrap integrated speed and cadence wireless sensor and transmitter but Contador has opted to go without. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Contador's personal mechanic, Faustino Munoz, readies the 2007 Tour de France champion's bike after the wet stage into Barcelona.

Contador's personal mechanic, Faustino Munoz, readies the 2007 Tour de France champion's bike after the wet stage into Barcelona. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Munoz takes a lot of pride in his work and Contador's machine is among the most impeccably prepared bike we've encountered.

Munoz takes a lot of pride in his work and Contador's machine is among the most impeccably prepared bike we've encountered. (Image credit: James Huang)
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A steel Force cage is spliced on to a SRAM Red front derailleur.

A steel Force cage is spliced on to a SRAM Red front derailleur. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The new Bontrager Race XXX Lite carbon tubulars have moved away from paired spokes but continue to use hubs based on DT Swiss' 240s design.

The new Bontrager Race XXX Lite carbon tubulars have moved away from paired spokes but continue to use hubs based on DT Swiss' 240s design. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The new 6 Series Madone fork continues to use a tapered steerer tube but the crown area trades the previous generation's cosmetic cap for carbon fiber.

The new 6 Series Madone fork continues to use a tapered steerer tube but the crown area trades the previous generation's cosmetic cap for carbon fiber. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) is searching for his second Tour de France victory aboard Trek's new 6 Series Madone.

Alberto Contador (Astana) is searching for his second Tour de France victory aboard Trek's new 6 Series Madone. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The new 6 Series Madone uses an asymmetrical tapered steerer tube for improved handling precision without affecting overall comfort.

The new 6 Series Madone uses an asymmetrical tapered steerer tube for improved handling precision without affecting overall comfort. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The custom paint job highlights Contador's signature pistol salute.

The custom paint job highlights Contador's signature pistol salute. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Contador is using Look's new KeO 2 Max Carbon pedals.

Contador is using Look's new KeO 2 Max Carbon pedals. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The SRAM Red rear derailleur is affixed to a replaceable hanger.

The SRAM Red rear derailleur is affixed to a replaceable hanger. (Image credit: James Huang)
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…but after Munoz removes the graphics it becomes a more innocuous all-white affair.

…but after Munoz removes the graphics it becomes a more innocuous all-white affair. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Munoz puts a lot of time into keeping this saddle white and only in the event of a crash is he going to let it touch the ground.

Munoz puts a lot of time into keeping this saddle white and only in the event of a crash is he going to let it touch the ground. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The carbon rails don't quite fit perfectly in the Madone seat mast's clamp but it apparently works well enough.

The carbon rails don't quite fit perfectly in the Madone seat mast's clamp but it apparently works well enough. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek says the new round-profile seat mast design saves about 20g.

Trek says the new round-profile seat mast design saves about 20g. (Image credit: James Huang)
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These look like ultralight Tune skewers to us.

These look like ultralight Tune skewers to us. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Bontrager Race XXX Lite carbon stem is slammed right atop the headset for a low and aggressive position.

The Bontrager Race XXX Lite carbon stem is slammed right atop the headset for a low and aggressive position. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Hutchinson tubulars on Bontrager rims: a familiar sight and a proven combination.

Hutchinson tubulars on Bontrager rims: a familiar sight and a proven combination. (Image credit: James Huang)

After a one-year forced hiatus, Alberto Contador (Astana) is back at this year's Tour de France seeking his second overall victory. Two years ago he used a then-new Trek Madone to secure his win but for this year's running Trek has provided the Spanish climber with yet another rendition of its top-end machine, the 6 Series Madone.

Key features have been carried over such as the integrated 90mm-wide bottom bracket, extra-wide down tube, tapered front end and novel no-cut seatmast design but further refinements have yielded 150g of total weight savings and 17 percent additional torsional rigidity, according to Trek. In addition, an increased level of integration such as Shimano Dura-Ace Di2-ready internal cable routing and a slick optional chain stay-mounted wireless speed and cadence sensor make for a notably cleaner appearance as well.

Be that as it may, two things in particular distinguish Contador's Madone from ones that consumers can purchase for themselves: the custom paint scheme on both the frame and the SRAM Red components plus the extra special touch of his personal mechanic, Faustino Munoz.

At first glance, Contador's Madone looks to be dressed in a fairly simple white and black with gold, pink and yellow accents – presumably to symbolize his wins in each of the three grand tours. But also subtly hidden within the black panels are faint silver patterns depicting Contador's signature pistol victory salute. In some sense, the total package is the ultimate contrast to the showier graphics treatments of teammate Lance Armstrong but the end result is no less distinctive.

The special finish may provide the visual flare but it's the work of Munoz that actually helps Contador go a bit faster. Munoz's thirty-plus years of experience as a professional team mechanic comes through in the impeccable manner with which Contador's bike is prepared but the consummate perfectionist also pays particularly close attention to bearing friction.

The ProTour is no stranger to ceramic bearings – most teams have been using them for years, well before they became popular amongst consumers – and Munoz is no exception, employing Enduro's speedy ZERØ hybrid cartridges. Supplemental detail work done in conjunction with sponsors Trek and SRAM, though, reduces friction further with even the crankset displaying that telltale 'pendulum' effect when the chain is disengaged.

Even the chain isn't ignored: after a fresh and through cleaning, Munoz first applies Sapim's mid-weight Race Oil then seals it in with a light coat of grease. The result is one of the silkiest drivetrains we've ever encountered and one needs no precision instrumentation to discern the significant improvement over a stock setup.

As befitting a climbing specialist, Contador's Madone is pretty and smooth but also light – but not too light. As pictured here with Bontrager Race XXX Lite carbon tubulars, a Trek Incite computer and two Bontrager Race X Lite bottle cages, actual weight is a spot-on 6.80kg (14.99lb), right in keeping with the UCI's mandated minimum figure.

In the event that any of the Astana bikes are below weight for whatever reason, however, the team has devised a cleverly elegant solution. Instead of the common 'chain links in the seat tube' or stuck-on bits of metal, a special lead plug can be inserted into the bottom bracket spindle when needed. The modular configuration lets Munoz add or subtract bits to hit the target weight and the wedge-type design (similar to an old quill stem) means it's locked in securely. Moreover, the weight is in the optimal position on the bike – close to the ground – and has almost no rotational inertia.

When all is said and done, Contador's new Madone may not be the absolute stiffest or flashiest bike in the peloton but just as with his Astana team, it's virtually purpose-built for stage racing with a proven pedigree. Now that the tensions between Contador and Armstrong have (supposedly) been resolved, the team can now rally around a sole leader and if all goes according to plan, team general manager Johan Bruyneel – and Trek – may add yet another Tour de France victory to its palmares.

Complete bike specifications: