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Paris-Roubaix - Van Summeren's winning Cervelo R3

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Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo) brought a Paris-Roubaix victory back to Belgium aboard a Cervelo R3.

Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo) brought a Paris-Roubaix victory back to Belgium aboard a Cervelo R3. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Cervelo race engineer Damon Rinard says the revamped R3's longer head tube better suits regular riders than the old one but all of the team's pros could still get their desired position with no spacers and a -17

Cervelo race engineer Damon Rinard says the revamped R3's longer head tube better suits regular riders than the old one but all of the team's pros could still get their desired position with no spacers and a -17 (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Skil-Shimano again cracked out its custom Koga Cobble Crossers for this year's Paris-Roubaix.

Skil-Shimano again cracked out its custom Koga Cobble Crossers for this year's Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Recognize this tread pattern? None of the countless tires we saw with this pattern at Paris-Roubaix said "Dugast" on them but there's a good possibility many teams went ahead and bought them on account of their supple and bulbous cotton casings and grippy shoulder tread.

Recognize this tread pattern? None of the countless tires we saw with this pattern at Paris-Roubaix said "Dugast" on them but there's a good possibility many teams went ahead and bought them on account of their supple and bulbous cotton casings and grippy shoulder tread. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Long 'cross fork blades and a steerer-mounted hanger had this Saur-Sojasun rider reaching for a hinged stem to recreate his usual position.

Long 'cross fork blades and a steerer-mounted hanger had this Saur-Sojasun rider reaching for a hinged stem to recreate his usual position. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Saur-Sojasun bikes also featured Time iClic pedals.

Saur-Sojasun bikes also featured Time iClic pedals. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Saur-Sojasun used Time's carbon 'cross bike for Paris-Roubaix, gaining gobs of tire clearance, mellower handling, and a more comfortable ride in the process relative to its usual road racers.

Saur-Sojasun used Time's carbon 'cross bike for Paris-Roubaix, gaining gobs of tire clearance, mellower handling, and a more comfortable ride in the process relative to its usual road racers. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rotor cranks were very widespread at Paris-Roubaix but we were only able to find a handful of sets of its elliptical Q-Rings.

Rotor cranks were very widespread at Paris-Roubaix but we were only able to find a handful of sets of its elliptical Q-Rings. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Interestingly, several Saur-Sojasun bikes were fitted with basic wired computers for Paris-Roubaix.

Interestingly, several Saur-Sojasun bikes were fitted with basic wired computers for Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Saur-Sojasun's Time 'cross bikes offered monstrous amounts of tire clearance all around.

Saur-Sojasun's Time 'cross bikes offered monstrous amounts of tire clearance all around. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Saur-Sojasun used a combination of crown-mounted and steerer-mounted housing stops for its Time 'cross bikes at Paris-Roubaix.

Saur-Sojasun used a combination of crown-mounted and steerer-mounted housing stops for its Time 'cross bikes at Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Saur-Sojasun's Paris-Roubaix machines each wore the name of a key secteur of pave on the top tube.

Saur-Sojasun's Paris-Roubaix machines each wore the name of a key secteur of pave on the top tube. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Most of the Saur-Sojasun riders had top-mount brake levers added to their bikes for Paris-Roubaix.

Most of the Saur-Sojasun riders had top-mount brake levers added to their bikes for Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A custom chain watcher is fitted to the Eddy Merckx EMX-5 of Tom Boonen (Quick Step)

A custom chain watcher is fitted to the Eddy Merckx EMX-5 of Tom Boonen (Quick Step) (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tom Boonen's (Quick Step) Eddy Merckx EMX-5 was clean and ready at the start of Paris-Roubaix but it ended up having an awfully rough day.

Tom Boonen's (Quick Step) Eddy Merckx EMX-5 was clean and ready at the start of Paris-Roubaix but it ended up having an awfully rough day. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tom Boonen's (Quick Step) tire of choice for Paris-Roubaix.

Tom Boonen's (Quick Step) tire of choice for Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tom Boonen (Quick Step) with a long 140mm FSA SL-K stem on his Eddy Merckx EMX-5.

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) with a long 140mm FSA SL-K stem on his Eddy Merckx EMX-5. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tom Boonen's (Quick Step) Eddy Merckx EMX-5 is fitted with a setback FSA carbon fiber seatpost.

Tom Boonen's (Quick Step) Eddy Merckx EMX-5 is fitted with a setback FSA carbon fiber seatpost. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Vacansoleil-DCM's Stijn Devolder had just one bottle cage on his bike at the start of Paris-Roubaix.

Vacansoleil-DCM's Stijn Devolder had just one bottle cage on his bike at the start of Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) was one of just a few riders we saw at Paris-Roubaix using Rotor Q-Rings.

Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) was one of just a few riders we saw at Paris-Roubaix using Rotor Q-Rings. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) went with a Ridley Helium today.

Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) went with a Ridley Helium today. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Mavic had a successful Paris-Roubaix debut of its new M40 carbon tubular wheels, earning a victory on its first outing.

Mavic had a successful Paris-Roubaix debut of its new M40 carbon tubular wheels, earning a victory on its first outing. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Cervelo gave its latest R3 a tapered head tube.

Cervelo gave its latest R3 a tapered head tube. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo) had just three data fields - time, distance, and speed - in view on his Garmin Edge 500 computer.

Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo) had just three data fields - time, distance, and speed - in view on his Garmin Edge 500 computer. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo) used an aluminum bar and stem to carry him to victory at Paris-Roubaix.

Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo) used an aluminum bar and stem to carry him to victory at Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rotor can now claim a Paris-Roubaix victory with its elliptical Q-Rings.

Rotor can now claim a Paris-Roubaix victory with its elliptical Q-Rings. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo) relied on Arundel stainless steel cages to keep bottles at the ready during a warm and dry Paris-Roubaix.

Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo) relied on Arundel stainless steel cages to keep bottles at the ready during a warm and dry Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Johan Van Summeren's (Garmin-Cervelo) Cervelo R3 was fitted with Gore Ride-On sealed derailleur cables and housing.

Johan Van Summeren's (Garmin-Cervelo) Cervelo R3 was fitted with Gore Ride-On sealed derailleur cables and housing. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo) gave Cervelo its third Paris-Roubaix victory on a slightly modified (and very big) 61cm R3.

Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo) gave Cervelo its third Paris-Roubaix victory on a slightly modified (and very big) 61cm R3. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Johan Van Summeren's (Garmin-Cervelo) Cervelo R3 gets shuttled into the winner's circle after his victory at Paris-Roubaix.

Johan Van Summeren's (Garmin-Cervelo) Cervelo R3 gets shuttled into the winner's circle after his victory at Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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And there it is again - looks like Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) went with Dugast Paris-Roubaix tubulars for his run at the Hell of the North.

And there it is again - looks like Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) went with Dugast Paris-Roubaix tubulars for his run at the Hell of the North. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A custom Selle San Marco Regal saddle for Belgian national champion Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM).

A custom Selle San Marco Regal saddle for Belgian national champion Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM). (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Vacansoleil-DCM team bikes used Ambrosio Nemesis box-section aluminum tubular rims adorned with big FFWD decals.

Vacansoleil-DCM team bikes used Ambrosio Nemesis box-section aluminum tubular rims adorned with big FFWD decals. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Check out the in-line quick release mechanism and Tektro R725 U-brakes used on Stijn Devolder's (Vacansoleil-DCM) Ridley Helium.

Check out the in-line quick release mechanism and Tektro R725 U-brakes used on Stijn Devolder's (Vacansoleil-DCM) Ridley Helium. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Ridley provided Belgian national champion Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) with this custom painted Noah for Paris-Roubaix.

Ridley provided Belgian national champion Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) with this custom painted Noah for Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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We're not entirely sure why former Ronde Van Vlaanderen winner and current Belgian national champion Stijn Devolder decided to use these U-brakes on his Paris-Roubaix machine. Normally intended for time trial machines, Tektro's R725 calipers offer no extra clearance relative to standard road brakes.

We're not entirely sure why former Ronde Van Vlaanderen winner and current Belgian national champion Stijn Devolder decided to use these U-brakes on his Paris-Roubaix machine. Normally intended for time trial machines, Tektro's R725 calipers offer no extra clearance relative to standard road brakes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Prologo provided Tom Boonen (Quick Step) with this signature saddle, seemingly inspired by The Thing from the Fantastic Four comics.

Prologo provided Tom Boonen (Quick Step) with this signature saddle, seemingly inspired by The Thing from the Fantastic Four comics. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Quick Step took the conservative approach to wheels at Paris-Roubaix, opting for Ambrosio Nemesis box-section aluminum tubular rims.

Quick Step took the conservative approach to wheels at Paris-Roubaix, opting for Ambrosio Nemesis box-section aluminum tubular rims. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Peter Sagan and the rest of the Liquigas team ran new Cannondale Synapses for this year's Paris-Roubaix.

Peter Sagan and the rest of the Liquigas team ran new Cannondale Synapses for this year's Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Liquigas team mechanics added two bits of aluminum to the SRAM Red front derailleurs, seemingly in an effort to both space the cage rearward a bit and also get a more solid purchase on the mount.

Liquigas team mechanics added two bits of aluminum to the SRAM Red front derailleurs, seemingly in an effort to both space the cage rearward a bit and also get a more solid purchase on the mount. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Aluminum tips are fitted to the end of Cannondale's Synapse fork.

Aluminum tips are fitted to the end of Cannondale's Synapse fork. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Cannondale team liaison Rory Mason tells us Liquigas's Synapse forks have been redesigned for more vertical flex than before.

Cannondale team liaison Rory Mason tells us Liquigas's Synapse forks have been redesigned for more vertical flex than before. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Gore Ride-On sealed cables are fitted to Peter Sagan's (Liquigas) Cannondale Synapse.

Gore Ride-On sealed cables are fitted to Peter Sagan's (Liquigas) Cannondale Synapse. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Europcar's Elite bottles are designed to pop over if they're run over so that the rider is less likely to crash.

Europcar's Elite bottles are designed to pop over if they're run over so that the rider is less likely to crash. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Liquigas mechanics fitted all of the riders' bars with both gel and foam padding beneath the tape to help save their hands.

Liquigas mechanics fitted all of the riders' bars with both gel and foam padding beneath the tape to help save their hands. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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25mm-wide FMB Paris-Roubaix tires are mounted to Mavic Reflex aluminum box-section rims on the Liquigas team bikes.

25mm-wide FMB Paris-Roubaix tires are mounted to Mavic Reflex aluminum box-section rims on the Liquigas team bikes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Europcar riders all left the start in Compiegne with deep-section Campagnolo Bora One carbon tubular wheels.

Europcar riders all left the start in Compiegne with deep-section Campagnolo Bora One carbon tubular wheels. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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This Europcar tire wears a Hutchinson hot stamp but the tread design and 30mm width tell us it's a Dugast.

This Europcar tire wears a Hutchinson hot stamp but the tread design and 30mm width tell us it's a Dugast. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Europcar rider Sebastien Turgot runs a lot of setback on his Colnago Cross Prestige.

Europcar rider Sebastien Turgot runs a lot of setback on his Colnago Cross Prestige. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Top tube cable routing is typically preferred when conditions are especially awful but it didn't matter much on Sunday's dry and warm Paris-Roubaix.

Top tube cable routing is typically preferred when conditions are especially awful but it didn't matter much on Sunday's dry and warm Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Europcar perhaps ran out of TRP arms at some point, though, as one bike was built with Empella Frogglegs instead.

Europcar perhaps ran out of TRP arms at some point, though, as one bike was built with Empella Frogglegs instead. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Europcar fitted its Colnago Cross Prestige framesets with wide-profile TRP EuroX cantilevers.

Europcar fitted its Colnago Cross Prestige framesets with wide-profile TRP EuroX cantilevers. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Europcar riders all started Paris-Roubaix on Colnago Cross Prestige bikes, which were needed to provide enough clearance for the team's giant 30mm-wide Dugast tires.

Europcar riders all started Paris-Roubaix on Colnago Cross Prestige bikes, which were needed to provide enough clearance for the team's giant 30mm-wide Dugast tires. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The Europcar team was running top-mount brake levers across the board.

The Europcar team was running top-mount brake levers across the board. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Liquigas's updated Cannondale Synapse machines stick with a straight 1 1/8" steerer.

Liquigas's updated Cannondale Synapse machines stick with a straight 1 1/8" steerer. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rear derailleur hangers on Liquigas's new Cannondale Synapse machines get upgraded to a sandwich-style alloy hanger to provide a much stiffer foundation for the rear derailleur.

Rear derailleur hangers on Liquigas's new Cannondale Synapse machines get upgraded to a sandwich-style alloy hanger to provide a much stiffer foundation for the rear derailleur. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The new Cannondale Synapse features interchangeable seatpost masts with removable alloy heads. Cannondale team liaison Rory Mason tells us this allows rider to tune in the amount of flex they want.

The new Cannondale Synapse features interchangeable seatpost masts with removable alloy heads. Cannondale team liaison Rory Mason tells us this allows rider to tune in the amount of flex they want. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Eddy Merckx says the rear stays of its EMX-5 are designed with aerodynamics in mind but Quick Step riders like Tom Boonen are likely to be more concerned with vertical flex today.

Eddy Merckx says the rear stays of its EMX-5 are designed with aerodynamics in mind but Quick Step riders like Tom Boonen are likely to be more concerned with vertical flex today. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tom Boonen's (Quick Step) rear derailleur shows a few scars but the alloy knuckles are perhaps a better choice than Super Record's carbon fiber ones for the inevitable crashes of Paris-Roubaix.

Tom Boonen's (Quick Step) rear derailleur shows a few scars but the alloy knuckles are perhaps a better choice than Super Record's carbon fiber ones for the inevitable crashes of Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Quick Step's Eddy Merckx EMX-5 bikes for Paris-Roubaix get tapered head tubes just like their everyday EMX-7 machines.

Quick Step's Eddy Merckx EMX-5 bikes for Paris-Roubaix get tapered head tubes just like their everyday EMX-7 machines. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Quick Step is another team using steel derailleur hangers at Paris-Roubaix.

Quick Step is another team using steel derailleur hangers at Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Interestingly, Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and others had 25T and even 26T cogs on their cassettes at Paris-Roubaix.

Interestingly, Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and others had 25T and even 26T cogs on their cassettes at Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tom Boonen's (Quick Step) Eddy Merckx EMX-5 fork bears some similarity to Pinarello's Onda.

Tom Boonen's (Quick Step) Eddy Merckx EMX-5 fork bears some similarity to Pinarello's Onda. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Campagnolo has stepped up to the needs of Quick Step and other sponsored teams, offering matched 46/53T and other similar chainring combinations that are more suitable for Paris-Roubaix's flat parcours.

Campagnolo has stepped up to the needs of Quick Step and other sponsored teams, offering matched 46/53T and other similar chainring combinations that are more suitable for Paris-Roubaix's flat parcours. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Tom Boonen (Quick Step) uses an all-aluminum cockpit for his Paris-Roubaix machine.

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) uses an all-aluminum cockpit for his Paris-Roubaix machine. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Clearance is rather tight on the rear of Quick Step's Paris-Roubaix machines given the fat Vittoria tubulars they're running.

Clearance is rather tight on the rear of Quick Step's Paris-Roubaix machines given the fat Vittoria tubulars they're running. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Eddy Merckx opts for an extra carbon fiber patch instead of a metal plate to guard against chainsuck on Quick Step's EMX-5.

Eddy Merckx opts for an extra carbon fiber patch instead of a metal plate to guard against chainsuck on Quick Step's EMX-5. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Three-time Paris-Roubaix winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step) has a lot of experience in this race and always runs double-wrapped tape.

Three-time Paris-Roubaix winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step) has a lot of experience in this race and always runs double-wrapped tape. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The doglegged bend at the top of the revamped Cannondale Synapse perhaps adds another pair of flex points.

The doglegged bend at the top of the revamped Cannondale Synapse perhaps adds another pair of flex points. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The flattened areas on the chain stays and seat stays and the seat stays' slightly curved shape on the updated Cannondale Synapse are all intended to allow more vertical flex for the Liquigas team riders.

The flattened areas on the chain stays and seat stays and the seat stays' slightly curved shape on the updated Cannondale Synapse are all intended to allow more vertical flex for the Liquigas team riders. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rear stays on Liquigas's Cannondale Synapse machines have supposedly been reshaped for extra cush on rough roads relative to the previous generation.

Rear stays on Liquigas's Cannondale Synapse machines have supposedly been reshaped for extra cush on rough roads relative to the previous generation. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Liquigas's Peter Sagan runs an ultra-long 150mm FSA stem tilted at a -17

Liquigas's Peter Sagan runs an ultra-long 150mm FSA stem tilted at a -17 (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The removable seatpost head on the updated Cannondale Synapse features a two-bolt clamp.

The removable seatpost head on the updated Cannondale Synapse features a two-bolt clamp. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Double-wrapped bar tape is a common sight at Paris-Roubaix.

Double-wrapped bar tape is a common sight at Paris-Roubaix. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)

After a three-year run by Specialized, Cervélo reclaimed manufacturer bragging rights at Paris-Roubaix after a thrilling solo victory by Garmin-Cervélo's Johan Van Summeren aboard a subtly tweaked R3.

Aside from the huge frame size – Van Summeren rides a 61cm – the lanky Belgian's machine is nearly virtually identical to the one we recently profiled belonging to current world champion Thor Hushovd. Frame features include more highly refined versions of Cervélo's long-running Squoval tube shapes, an asymmetric BBright bottom bracket with integrated bearings, a tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 3/8" head tube, aggressively tapered chain stays, and the trademark spindly seat stays that are now a virtual trademark for Cervélo's workhorse road racer.

Subtle tweaks made for the cobbles include 1cm-longer chain stays, a broader fork crown, and 1cm more fork rake to lend extra tire clearance and more stable handling across the treacherous pavé – otherwise, Cervélo says the frame uses the same lay-up and carbon content as consumer frames.

The team-issue build kit features a nearly complete SRAM Black Red group (with a steel-caged front derailleur and PG-1070 cassette), Rotor 3D+ machined aluminum cranks and chain watcher, Gore Ride-On sealed cables and housing, Garmin's Edge 500 computer, Shimano Dura-Ace carbon pedals, and 3T's ARX Pro forged aluminum stem, Rotundo classic-bend aluminum handlebar, and highly secure secure Palladio Pro aluminum seatpost.

Sole changes from Hushovd's build include Rotor's elliptical Q-Rings (the first Paris-Roubaix for non-round chainrings, we believe) and a fi'zi:k Antares k:ium saddle (Hushovd runs an Arione).

Van Summeren's victory also marked a successful Paris-Roubaix debut for Mavic's new M40 carbon wheels – clad in bright yellow decals just for the race – which feature an extra-wide profile, a versatile 40mm depth, and tough bladed stainless steel spokes and brass nipples connected to sleek aluminum-bodied hubs front and rear.

As always for Paris-Roubaix, large-volume tubular tires with supple cotton casings were the ticket to surviving the cobbles. Van Summeren ran 27mm-wide FMB Paris-Roubaixs.

A closer look at Tom Boonen's Quick Step Eddy Merckx EMX-5

Crashes are a virtual certainty at Paris-Roubaix and several teams, like Tom Boonen's Quick Step squad, went with second-tier frames for the Hell of the North. Though generally slightly heavier than their flagship counterparts, these bikes also usually use more ductile carbon fiber blends that are less likely to break or crack when unceremoniously slammed into the ground.

Quick Step riders left Compiègne on the Eddy Merckx EMX-5 – a virtual clone of the top-end EMX-7, at least in terms of shape – with no modifications for extra tire clearance that we could see. Team bikes were fitted, however, with steel rear derailleur hangers for added toughness.

Tom Boonen has, of course, won Paris-Roubaix three times in the past and is still one of the best riders on the pavé so it's no surprise to see him stick with his tried-and-true equipment formula in addition to the Campagnolo Record group: double-wrapped aluminum bars (though with a newly compact bend) and an aluminum stem, traditional box-section aluminum tubular wheels, tight-ratio chainrings, and relatively large-volume tubular tires.

Boonen's bike was also fitted with a custom chain watcher though it didn't seem to work when it was really needed.

"In the Arenberg forest I had my first mechanical problem," he said in a team press release after the race. "My chain got stuck between the frame and the crankset and I had to wait almost two minutes for the flagship car."

Boonen may also want to rethink his cage choice next year, too.

"Then the incredible happened," he continued. "I was catching up to the group of the favorites after a long chase when the vibrations from the cobbles shook my water bottle loose and it ended up between the back wheel and the frame."

Cannondale debuts new Synapse frame with Liquigas at Paris-Roubaix

Liquigas debuted a new Cannondale Synapse at Paris-Roubaix with changes including reshaped stays, a new carbon fork, and a curious multi-piece interchangeable seatpost system.

Purported benefits of the restyled chain- and seat stays are obvious: more vertical give on rough ground. Slightly more raked-out fork blades reportedly do the same up front according to team liaison Rory Mason, while the actual front-end geometry remains unchanged thanks to more rearward-positioned fork tips.

Meanwhile, there's that odd seatpost setup. According to Mason, the removable aluminum head is designed to accommodate one of two available carbon shafts so that riders can tune in how much flex they want. Liquigas team bikes all featured the notably smaller-section carbon masts in comparison to the previous Synapse so we expect that these offered a substantial improvement in ride quality over the pavé.

The rear derailleur hanger also moves to a much stiffer sandwich-style construction to provide a more stable foundation – meaning better shifting and impact durability – for the SRAM Red rear derailleur.

Front triangles are unchanged and still use a straight 1 1/8" head tube.

Speaking of derailleurs, Liquigas team mechanics added a pair of extra aluminum bits to the front derailleur's mounting boss – one in between the derailleur and frame and the other between the custom chain watcher and frame. We weren't able to speak to team mechanics on their purpose but we can only assume it was done to both slightly reposition the cage in relation to the chainrings and provide a stouter attachment. Interesting.

Liquigas also went conservative on wheels, using Mavic Reflex aluminum box-section tubular rims and stainless steel spokes but wrapped in relatively small 25mm-wide FMB Paris-Roubaix tires. Bars were padded with both gel and foam before being wrapped in fi'zi:k Microtex tape.

Stijn Devolder's Vacansoleil-DCM Ridley Helium

Two-time Ronde Van Vlaanderen winner Stijn Devolder was treated to a custom painted Ridley Helium and specially covered Selle San Marco Regal saddle for Paris-Roubaix in celebration of his current status of Belgian national champion. The frame and fork looked standard to us otherwise and the build kit was essentially typical team-issue for the most part, including the SRAM Red group, Rotor 3D BB30 cranks (with elliptical Q-Rings), Deda bar and stem, and Look KéO pedals.

We're at a loss to explain the Tektro R725 U-brakes front and rear, though, as they don't offer any extra clearance over a set of standard road calipers and Paris-Roubaix's flat parcours doesn't require excessive braking.

The traditional wheels were built with Ambrosio Nemesis aluminum box-section tubular rims and were wrapped with Dugast Paris-Roubaix tires.

Teams cracks out the 'cross bikes

While there's a strong – and growing – contingent of teams and riders that have settled upon slightly modified standard road bikes for tackling Paris-Roubaix, as always there are those that instead opt for a full-blown 'cross chassis in hopes of surviving the brutal pavé. Oftentimes it's to get extra mud clearance for sloppy conditions but in this year's dry and warm weather, it was to allow the teams and riders the ability to run the increasingly bulbous tubular tires that just won't fit in most road bikes (even some slightly modified ones).

This year that group included at least three teams: Skil-Shimano, Saur-Sojasun, and Europcar.

Europcar used Colnago's Cross Prestige – the same full carbon fiber frameset that Sven Nys uses in World Cup cyclo-cross racing – outfitted with its usual Campagnolo Record 11 groups but with a few key substitutions for this special day. TRP supplied its ultralight EuroX Carbon cantilevers, gearing was adjusted for the flat parcours, and cages were swapped for Elite's sturdy Ciussi Gel.

All of the Europcar riders left Compiègne on deep-section Campagnolo Bora One carbon tubulars wrapped with ultra-fat 30mm Dugast Paris-Roubaix tires (labeled as Hutchinsons).

Meanwhile, Saur-Sojasun made the switch from its usual Time RXRS Ulteam to the company's now-discontinued Cross Pro Team. In addition to the aforementioned changes in handling and tire clearance, Time's Cross Pro Team was also likely much more comfortable on the cobbles given its comparatively small tube diameters and round-section seatmast. Time also gave each frame custom paint jobs with a different key pavé secteur name written across the top tube.

Build kits included the team's usual SRAM Red transmissions, Rotor cranks and chainrings (and chain keepers), FSA bars and stems, fi'zi:k saddles and Time pedals but as with Europcar, TRP subbed in with its ultralight EuroX Carbon wide-profile cantilevers. Team mechanics used a mix of steerer-mounted and apparently homemade crown-mounted housing stops for the front brakes, which occasionally required a hinged stem to achieve a suitably low rider position.

Saur-Sojasun definitely took the conservative approach to wheels with Ambrosio aluminum box-section tubular rims and stainless steel spokes, all wrapped with Dugast Paris-Roubaix tires.

Finally, Skil-Shimano brought out the specially made Cobble Crosser 'cross framesets it first used in last year's race. The TIG-welded, moderate-diameter scandium tubeset is said to offer a more resilient ride over the pavé while still being light, and there's of course lots of clearance for big tires and mud.

Skil-Shimano team bikes were outfitted with complete Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groups (save for the Shimano medium-profile cantilever brakes) and bar-top satellite shifters across the board, plus a full complement of PRO bars, stems, and seatposts. Team riders left Compiègne on 35mm-deep Shimano carbon tubulars wrapped with Michelin-branded tires.

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar.