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Boonen aiming for top step in London

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Boonen's new TT bike certainly looks the part

Boonen's new TT bike certainly looks the part
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A narrow down tube

A narrow down tube
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…but this is what is required

…but this is what is required
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Campagnolo's bar-end shifters

Campagnolo's bar-end shifters
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Boonen will use his tried-and-true

Boonen will use his tried-and-true
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A pair of 54/44T chainrings

A pair of 54/44T chainrings
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The rear wheel is closely profiled

The rear wheel is closely profiled
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Cables are run internally.

Cables are run internally.
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Rear brake is tucked behind and below

Rear brake is tucked behind and below
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Campagnolo Record components

Campagnolo Record components
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Boonen's custom-finished Selle San Marco saddle.

Boonen's custom-finished Selle San Marco saddle.
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If all else failed

If all else failed
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Boonen's new TT bike certainly looks the part, but almost wasn't going to be allowed to the start house on Saturday.

Boonen's new TT bike certainly looks the part, but almost wasn't going to be allowed to the start house on Saturday. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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A narrow down tube flares into the full width of the bottom bracket shell.

A narrow down tube flares into the full width of the bottom bracket shell. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Quickstep-Innergetic team mechanics insist that Boonen will race on Saturday using Specialized's Roval Rapide Star Carbon front wheel.

Quickstep-Innergetic team mechanics insist that Boonen will race on Saturday using Specialized's Roval Rapide Star Carbon front wheel. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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This is a far cry from the long stem and deep drop bars that we're accustomed to seeing on the front of Boonen's bikes..

This is a far cry from the long stem and deep drop bars that we're accustomed to seeing on the front of Boonen's bikes.. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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…but this is what is required if 'Tornado Tom' hopes to put in a good time on Saturday.

…but this is what is required if 'Tornado Tom' hopes to put in a good time on Saturday. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Campagnolo's bar-end shifters handle the duties up front.

Campagnolo's bar-end shifters handle the duties up front. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Vision's knife-edged brake levers offer up little wind resistance.

Vision's knife-edged brake levers offer up little wind resistance. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The proprietary Specialized brake is said to offer a cleaner path through the air than a traditional dual-pivot caliper.

The proprietary Specialized brake is said to offer a cleaner path through the air than a traditional dual-pivot caliper. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Boonen will use his tried-and-true Campy Record Ultra-Torque crankset.

Boonen will use his tried-and-true Campy Record Ultra-Torque crankset. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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A pair of 54/44T chainrings ought to do the trick on the flat prologue course.

A pair of 54/44T chainrings ought to do the trick on the flat prologue course. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Look continues to provide Boonen with its chrome-moly spindled Keo pedals.

Look continues to provide Boonen with its chrome-moly spindled Keo pedals. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The Transition stays take a nearly parallel path back towards the rear of the bike, then take a dramatic turn towards the dropout.

The Transition stays take a nearly parallel path back towards the rear of the bike, then take a dramatic turn towards the dropout. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The rear wheel is closely profiled by the seat tube.

The rear wheel is closely profiled by the seat tube. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Cables are run internally.

Cables are run internally. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Boonen's Vision integrated TT bar and stem were heavily filed at the rear.

Boonen's Vision integrated TT bar and stem were heavily filed at the rear. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Boonen's desired position required the rearmost setting on the Transition post.

Boonen's desired position required the rearmost setting on the Transition post. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Rear brake is tucked behind and below the bottom bracket shell.

Rear brake is tucked behind and below the bottom bracket shell. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Campagnolo Record components fill out the drivetrain.

Campagnolo Record components fill out the drivetrain. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Unless the wind is howling out of control, rear disc wheels are sure to be the standard on Saturday.

Unless the wind is howling out of control, rear disc wheels are sure to be the standard on Saturday. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The Fulcrum rear disc incorporates familiar Campagnolo hub internals.

The Fulcrum rear disc incorporates familiar Campagnolo hub internals. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Boonen's custom-finished Selle San Marco saddle.

Boonen's custom-finished Selle San Marco saddle. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The prologue course is only 7.9km long so we're not sure why this is even on here!

The prologue course is only 7.9km long so we're not sure why this is even on here! (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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UCI officials carefully scrutinize Boonen's new machine…

UCI officials carefully scrutinize Boonen's new machine… (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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…while team officials nervously look on.

…while team officials nervously look on. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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If all else failed, at least Boonen still has yet another Tarmac SL2 to ride, resplendent in the World Champion and Belgian national colors.

If all else failed, at least Boonen still has yet another Tarmac SL2 to ride, resplendent in the World Champion and Belgian national colors. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)

Race Tech: Tour de France, July 6, 2007

With the start to this year's Tour de France less than two days away, the peloton already finds itself without Alessandro Petacchi (Milram), who undoubtedly would have injected a load of excitement into the first week's likely sprint finishes. To make matters even more dramatic, one of Petacchi's most potent sprint finish rivals, Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic), almost found himself without a ride for this Saturday's opening time trial courtesy of a few UCI officials.

Boonen hopes to carry the maillot jaune into his home country as the TdF crosses the English Channel into Belgium for Stage 2 and much of that goal will rest on an outstanding performance in Saturday's opening Prologue through the streets of London. To assist 'Tornado Tom' in that endeavor, team bicycle sponsor Specialized provided him with its brand-new Transition time trial machine, which was formally unveiled just last week at the company's global product launch in Spain.

Specialized frame designers were quick to point out during the press event that the radical dimensions of the new Transition just barely satisfied UCI requirements, saying that "[its] designers and engineers pushed right up to the legal limit in an effort to give riders the maximum aerodynamic advantage possible."

As it turns out, Specialized may still have pushed that envelope a bit too far as a swarm of UCI officials were seen carefully scrutinizing the bike in the pit area outside the team hotel as Quickstep-Innergetic staff nervously looked on. Luckily for Boonen (not to mention Specialized and the rest of the team), the UCI did eventually approve use of the Transition for Saturday's start, albeit begrudgingly if our information is correct. We weren't able to obtain an official UCI statement as far as what its major objection was, but rumor had it that it wasn't even related to the frame tubes themselves per se, which was apparently what Specialized had most concerned itself with. Rather, it supposedly had more to do with the range of adjustment allowed by the bike's rear-facing horizontal dropouts and its effect on the distance between the rear wheel and the seat tube.

Be that as it may, Boonen has averted disaster this time around, but the rumors in the pits suggested that the technically over-involved UCI was still wielding its meddling stick in regards to poorly worded minutia, seemingly with reckless abandon (and we still don't understand why the 6.8kg minimum weight restriction has yet to be lifted or modified). If those rumors are true, the UCI was apparently considering declaring 'modified' dropouts as unlawful modifications to stock safety features, and confusion over aero bar extension positioning had at least one team searching for clarification over the rules in fear of disqualification.

Regardless, at least one thing is for certain: the teams and riders already have enough to worry about without having to wonder whether or not filing the lawyer tabs from their forks will force a last-minute scramble for more equipment.

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