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Pro bike: Kevin Pauwels' Ridley X-Night

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Belgian World Cup leader Kevin Pauwels' Ridley X-Night. After winning the first World Cup cyclo cross race outside of mainland Europe, we grabbed Pauwels' bike fresh from the jet wash, which meant some evidence of the day's race before its final clean

Belgian World Cup leader Kevin Pauwels' Ridley X-Night. After winning the first World Cup cyclo cross race outside of mainland Europe, we grabbed Pauwels' bike fresh from the jet wash, which meant some evidence of the day's race before its final clean (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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Pauwels' Challenge Limus-shod race bike had cable ties around each of the cantlilever arms, presumably to support the return spring

Pauwels' Challenge Limus-shod race bike had cable ties around each of the cantlilever arms, presumably to support the return spring (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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Just so there's no problem distinguishing Pauwels' wheels, they're initialled, but we can't help thinking that valve stem extension is longer than it needs to be

Just so there's no problem distinguishing Pauwels' wheels, they're initialled, but we can't help thinking that valve stem extension is longer than it needs to be (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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The team use SwissStop brake pads, as this well-worn rear end shows

The team use SwissStop brake pads, as this well-worn rear end shows (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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With the Milton Keynes course producing possibly the toughest course of the season, mud tyres were essential, and although Pauwels finished on Dugast Rhinos, one of the race bikes he used was fitted with Challenge Limus

With the Milton Keynes course producing possibly the toughest course of the season, mud tyres were essential, and although Pauwels finished on Dugast Rhinos, one of the race bikes he used was fitted with Challenge Limus (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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Ridley's double seat clamp ensures that the seatpost doesn't go anywhere, no matter how hard the remount

Ridley's double seat clamp ensures that the seatpost doesn't go anywhere, no matter how hard the remount (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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An even spread of gears from the 11-28 Dura Ace cassette, well sealed Di2 cable, and DT Swiss 240s hub

An even spread of gears from the 11-28 Dura Ace cassette, well sealed Di2 cable, and DT Swiss 240s hub (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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Fast Forward F4R tubular wheels are a popular choice, as are Dugast tubulars - seen here with some persistent Milton Keynes toothpaste!

Fast Forward F4R tubular wheels are a popular choice, as are Dugast tubulars - seen here with some persistent Milton Keynes toothpaste! (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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The Dura-Ace Di2 front mech is supplemented by a Rotor chain catcher as dropped chains with Di2 can cost a lot of time

The Dura-Ace Di2 front mech is supplemented by a Rotor chain catcher as dropped chains with Di2 can cost a lot of time (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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Shimano's XTR M980 mountain bike pedals are one of the most popular amongst 'cross racers

Shimano's XTR M980 mountain bike pedals are one of the most popular amongst 'cross racers (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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Sunweb-Napoleon Games use Rotor's 3D+ crank. Pauwels uses a 172.5mm crank length with 46/39 tooth noQ round rings

Sunweb-Napoleon Games use Rotor's 3D+ crank. Pauwels uses a 172.5mm crank length with 46/39 tooth noQ round rings (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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Pauwels is one of many cyclo cross pros who favour Shimano's Di2 electronic shifting for its certainty

Pauwels is one of many cyclo cross pros who favour Shimano's Di2 electronic shifting for its certainty (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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The team have switched from last season's 4ZA cantis to Shimano's CX70 units

The team have switched from last season's 4ZA cantis to Shimano's CX70 units (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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Cantilever brakes are still the norm within the established European scene, although Pauwels did have a disc-equipped X-Night available. It seems this offset front cable didn't affect Pauwels' performance.

Cantilever brakes are still the norm within the established European scene, although Pauwels did have a disc-equipped X-Night available. It seems this offset front cable didn't affect Pauwels' performance. (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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A lot of riders prefer metal railed saddles for durability, but Pauwels relies on 4ZA's Cirrus Pro with carbon rails

A lot of riders prefer metal railed saddles for durability, but Pauwels relies on 4ZA's Cirrus Pro with carbon rails (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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Pauwels runs a standard 120mm 4ZA Cirrus Pro aluminum stem and steerer tube mounted front brake cable hanger

Pauwels runs a standard 120mm 4ZA Cirrus Pro aluminum stem and steerer tube mounted front brake cable hanger (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)
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Who needs big name branded wheel covers? Pauwels' crew have a selection of polka dot custom made wheel covers to protect their wheel armoury between races - they were packing up to drive to the next day's Bpost Trofee event in Belgium. What better use for your old curatins?

Who needs big name branded wheel covers? Pauwels' crew have a selection of polka dot custom made wheel covers to protect their wheel armoury between races - they were packing up to drive to the next day's Bpost Trofee event in Belgium. What better use for your old curatins? (Image credit: Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media)

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

Kevin Pauwels is having perhaps his most consistent season since 2011-2012, with wins in two of the toughest Superprestige races at Zonhoven and Spa-Francorchamps, and now the Milton Keynes World Cup event in the UK this past weekend. In the first World Cup cyclocross ever to be held outside of mainland Europe, Pauwels started the race as World Cup leader, after second places in Valkenburg and Koksijde, and defended his overall lead with the race win.

The 29-year-old excels on hard courses, especially those with plenty of elevation and technical riding, and the fantastically muddy Campbell Park circuit in Milton Keynes delivered both.

Riding a stock Ridley X-Night, Pauwels chose to stick with his familiar cantilever machines, even though he had disc brake-equipped bikes on hand too. The competition take up of disc brakes among Europe's elite ‘cross racers is still limited, but they are slowly becoming more commonplace. Last season the Sunweb team bikes featured a full complement of Ridley's house brand 4ZA's finishing kit and brakes, but this year, Shimano CX70 cantilevers with SwissStop pads have replaced them.

We did spot cable ties wrapped around the brake arms on one of Pauwels' race machines, which we presume were intended to offer the return springs more support, although it was only on one out of three bikes.

Many Shimano-sponsored riders choose Di2 electronic shifting, and Pauwels too has a Dura-Ace 11-speed setup, only interrupted by Rotor's 3D+ crankset. Gearing for a truly brutal course was 46/39 up front, with an 11-28 cassette, which with the heavy conditions is testament to both Kevin's strength and low weight. At 60kg, he's just 2kg heavier than Lars Van Der Haar, despite being 8cm / 3in taller.

A Rotor chain catcher has been added below the front derailleur to prevent dropped chains getting stuck inside the crank, which are notoriously hard to free with a Di2 setup – as shown by Sven Nys on the day. The advantages of Di2 are shift certainty, and better protection against constant washing, which soon degrades mechanical cable operation. Increased weight due to the battery and motors is a trade off most riders seem happy to live with, although the same can't yet be said of disc brakes.

Dutch brand Fast Forward's F4R tubular wheels are Pauwels' preferred choice, the 45mm deep carbon rims shod with Dugast Rhinos on this bike, although unusually, one of his three race bikes was fitted with Challenge Limus tubulars. Usually a rider will compete with the same tyres on every bike for consistency throughout a race, so the fact that Pauwels switched from 32mm Rhinos to 33mm Limus, each with different block patterns and characteristics, and still won, is quite impressive. With his low body weight, no real obstacles on the course that could cause impact punctures, and heaps of slick, off-camber riding, Pauwels started with just 1.2 bar or 18psi in his tubulars.

Shimano XTR pedals are a common choice, and the remaining finishing kit is all from 4ZA, with a carbon seatpost, carbon railed Cirrus Pro saddle, carbon Cirrus Pro bar and aluminium Cirrus Pro 120mm stem. Ridley are one of the few manufacturers who have stuck with a conventional horizontal top tube frame design, but it does make shouldering the bike easier than a more compact sloping frame. This X-Night's total weight, albeit with mud tyres and a thin coating of muck, was a very reasonable 7.54kg / 16.62lb, which is another shouldering bonus.

Complete bike specification
Frame: Ridley X-Night, HM/HR unidirectional carbon
Fork: Oryx Pro, carbon monocoque, tapered steerer
Headset: FSA integrated 1 1/8- 1 1/2"
Stem: 4ZA Cirrus Pro aluminum 120mm
Handlebar: 4ZA Cirrus Pro carbon 42cm
Tape: 4ZA cork, black
Front brake: Shimano CX70 cantilever
Rear brake: Shimano CX70 cantilever
Brake levers: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 11-speed
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 11-speed
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 11-speed
Shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 11-speed
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace 11-28t 11-speed
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace
Crankset: Rotor 3D+ with 172.5mm cranks and 46/39t rings
Bottom bracket: Rotor for BB30 frame
Pedals: Shimano XTR M980
Rims: FFWD F4R 24 hole rear/20 hole front, 45mm depth
Front hub: DT Swiss 240S
Rear hub: DT Swiss 240S
Spokes: Bladed J-bend Sapim CX-Ray
Front tyre: Dugast Rhino 1.2 bar
Rear tye: Dugast Rhino 1.2 bar
Saddle: 4ZA Cirrus Pro with carbon rails
Seatpost: 4ZA Cirrus Pro carbon, 27.2mm diameter
Extras: Cable ties across cantilever springs on one bike

Critical measurements
Rider height: 176cm / 5ft 9in
Rider weight: 60kg
Saddle height BB centre to top: 72.5cm
Saddle setback: 5.5cm
Seat tube (C to top): 56cm
Seat tube (c to c): 52cm
Saddle to bar : 53.8cm
Saddle to bar drop: 8cm
Head tube length: 12cm
Top tube length: 52.5cm