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Chris Jones' Champion System Focus Mares Team

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The wide and flat top tube contributes to front end lateral rigidity while also making for a reasonably comfortable place to rest your shoulder.

The wide and flat top tube contributes to front end lateral rigidity while also making for a reasonably comfortable place to rest your shoulder.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Jones prefers FSA's gently anatomic bar bend.

Jones prefers FSA's gently anatomic bar bend.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Focus pushes the down tube, seat tube and chain stays out to the edges of the BB30 bottom bracket shell.

Focus pushes the down tube, seat tube and chain stays out to the edges of the BB30 bottom bracket shell.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Focus also adds a fair bit of material on the underside of the shell for even more reinforcement.

Focus also adds a fair bit of material on the underside of the shell for even more reinforcement.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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SRAM's Powerdome cassette is a wonder of engineering and superlight but is also prone to clogging with mud so Jones opts for an OG-1070 model instead.

SRAM's Powerdome cassette is a wonder of engineering and superlight but is also prone to clogging with mud so Jones opts for an OG-1070 model instead.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Jones plays it safe with an aluminum bar and stem.

Jones plays it safe with an aluminum bar and stem.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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The SRAM Red BB30 crank is lighter than the standard GXP version and also provides more ankle clearance.

The SRAM Red BB30 crank is lighter than the standard GXP version and also provides more ankle clearance.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Yup, even the cable donuts are orange.

Yup, even the cable donuts are orange.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Aluminum faces sandwich the carbon dropouts.

Aluminum faces sandwich the carbon dropouts.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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SRAM's Force front derailleur has proven popular with pros given the stiffer - and heavier - steel cage.

SRAM's Force front derailleur has proven popular with pros given the stiffer - and heavier - steel cage.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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The stout fork uses a very widely set crown for heaps of mud clearance.

The stout fork uses a very widely set crown for heaps of mud clearance.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Chris Jones (Champion System) is racing this season on a Focus Mares Team.

Chris Jones (Champion System) is racing this season on a Focus Mares Team.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Focus fits the Mares Team with a tapered steerer that uses a 1 1/4" lower diameter instead of the more common 1 1/2".

Focus fits the Mares Team with a tapered steerer that uses a 1 1/4" lower diameter instead of the more common 1 1/2".
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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The SRAM Red DoubleTap levers are fitted with orange Hudz SoftGrip hoods.

The SRAM Red DoubleTap levers are fitted with orange Hudz SoftGrip hoods.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Crankbrothers provided special orange Candy 4ti pedals for Jones' Halloween-special 'cross bike.

Crankbrothers provided special orange Candy 4ti pedals for Jones' Halloween-special 'cross bike.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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The SRAM Red rear derailleur was put to the test in Saturday's thick mud.

The SRAM Red rear derailleur was put to the test in Saturday's thick mud.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Challenge Fango tubulars are stretched around the Williams Cycling Wheelsystem 38 carbon wheels though Jones also uses tires from Dugast, too.

Challenge Fango tubulars are stretched around the Williams Cycling Wheelsystem 38 carbon wheels though Jones also uses tires from Dugast, too.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Top tube routing helps keep the cables protected from mud.

Top tube routing helps keep the cables protected from mud.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Conveniently for Jones, fi'zi:k makes all of its test saddles with orange covers.

Conveniently for Jones, fi'zi:k makes all of its test saddles with orange covers.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Champion System provided Jones with a special skinsuit for the day.

Champion System provided Jones with a special skinsuit for the day.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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The dual seat stays are bolstered by a stout bridge. TRP EuroX Magnesium brakes provide the stopping power.

The dual seat stays are bolstered by a stout bridge. TRP EuroX Magnesium brakes provide the stopping power.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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The conical seat tube is carved out to make room for the front derailleur.

The conical seat tube is carved out to make room for the front derailleur.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)
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Chunky chain stays are mated to smaller seat stays.

Chunky chain stays are mated to smaller seat stays.
(Image credit: Emily Wren/www.emilywren.com)

The first day of a weekend of UCI-sanctioned 'cross racing in the Boulder, Colorado area happened to fall on Halloween this year and while much of the amateur field donned a plethora of colorful costumes to celebrate, the pros were predictably more seriously attired – all but Chris Jones, that is.

Conveniently, Jones' title sponsor, Champion System, is a custom cycling clothing company and they provided their star rider with a special black and orange skinsuit, complete with jack-o-lanterns front-and-rear and a cheeky – literally – 'Happy Halloween' greeting on the back. Not only that but his Focus Mares Team race machine was also dressed to suit with a host of orange details such as the saddle, bar tape, brake hoods, pedals, rim decals and yes, even the cable donuts.

Aside from the whimsical colouring, though, Jones' bike was all business.

Germany-based Focus is well known in Europe, but has only just this season started to bring bikes into the US and Jones' Mares Team is the company's flagship model. The full-carbon frame clearly places heavy emphasis on front triangle and drivetrain efficiency with a giant down tube and top tube, a tapered head tube, a bulbous BB30-compatible bottom bracket shell, plus an enormous asymmetrical seat tube.

The matching fork is equally stout in appearance, too, featuring a giant, widely spaced crown and straight blades with huge cross-sections front-to-back.

Even so, Focus looks to have factored in some vertical give for better rider comfort and improved traction. The giant chain stays are matched to relatively slim seat stays, the top tube is highly ovalized horizontally to allow the front end to flex a tad – while also improving shouldering comfort – and the tapered front end flares from 1 1/8" up top to a modest 1 1/4" at the crown instead of the more common 1 1/2" dimension. Even the seatpost measures a slim 27.2mm for a modicum of extra cush.

Finishing kit is decidedly high-end throughout, without being over the top. SRAM provides the transmission and drivetrain with Red DoubleTap levers, rear derailleur and BB30-edition crankset with pro-only SRAM 38/46T chainrings, Force front derailleur (a popular choice among pros given the stiffer steel cage), PC-1090 chain and OG-1070 cassette instead of the mud-prone Powerdome model.

Williams Cycling provides Jones with its Wheelsystem 38 carbon tubular wheels, which he then wraps with tires from Dugast and Challenge. Unfortunately, Jones doesn't actually have an official tire sponsor so his equipment costs are higher than some other top domestic pros, but on the upside, that also means he has more freedom of choice and keeps an unusually generous array of six different treads on hand.

Finishing kit includes an FSA Energy Anatomic alloy bar and Orbit CX headset, a Thomson X2 stem and Masterpiece seatpost, TRP EuroX Mag wide-profile cantilevers, fi'zi:k Aliante saddle, and Crankbrothers Candy 4ti pedals. Total weight is an admirable 7.60kg (16.67lb).

It's a good thing that Jones had all of those wheels and tires at his disposal, though, as he flatted three times on Saturday – once in warm-up and twice during the race. Add in a broken shoe buckle and that was about all the sign Jones needed that the fight was best left for another day. With another day of warm and sunny weather on tap after two days of monster snow, Sunday's race promises to be much faster – and much drier. A comparatively fresh Chris Jones will hope to put himself on the podium for a third time this year.

Complete bike specifications