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Pro riders go with more aggressive wheel choices

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The deep-section Zipp 808 tubular rear wheel…

The deep-section Zipp 808 tubular rear wheel…
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Team-only Continental tubulars

Team-only Continental tubulars
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Skil-Shimano's tubulars tires

Skil-Shimano's tubulars tires
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Ambrosio is the rim brand of choice

Ambrosio is the rim brand of choice
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CSC's Stuart O'Grady ran a mostly standard rig for Gent-Wevelgem.

CSC's Stuart O'Grady ran a mostly standard rig for Gent-Wevelgem. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The deep-section Zipp 808 tubular rear wheel…

The deep-section Zipp 808 tubular rear wheel… (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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…is paired with a slightly shallow Zipp 404.

…is paired with a slightly shallow Zipp 404. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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O'Grady opted for fairly standard 23mm-wide Vittoria tubulars.

O'Grady opted for fairly standard 23mm-wide Vittoria tubulars. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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However, last year's Paris-Roubaix winner did fit his bike with Bontrager BuzzKill harmonic dampers. We always thought they worked; apparently O'Grady (and Hincapie) think so, too.

However, last year's Paris-Roubaix winner did fit his bike with Bontrager BuzzKill harmonic dampers. We always thought they worked; apparently O'Grady (and Hincapie) think so, too. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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O'Grady's tried-and-true FSA crank (labeled as a K-Force Light but clearly more of the SL-K variety) gets the job done.

O'Grady's tried-and-true FSA crank (labeled as a K-Force Light but clearly more of the SL-K variety) gets the job done. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The Speedplay Zero pedals on O'Grady's bike aren't quite like the one-off versions he had on his Paris-Roubaix bike, though we have yet to see what he'll use on Sunday.

The Speedplay Zero pedals on O'Grady's bike aren't quite like the one-off versions he had on his Paris-Roubaix bike, though we have yet to see what he'll use on Sunday. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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A Prologo saddle caps O'Grady's machine.

A Prologo saddle caps O'Grady's machine. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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High Road's George Hincapie also opted for aero carbon tubular wheels for Gent-Wevelgem.

High Road's George Hincapie also opted for aero carbon tubular wheels for Gent-Wevelgem. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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High Road is racing on Giant's new TCR Advanced SL frame.

High Road is racing on Giant's new TCR Advanced SL frame. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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It's common practice in the pro peloton to pair a deeper rear wheel with a shallower front for better handling.

It's common practice in the pro peloton to pair a deeper rear wheel with a shallower front for better handling. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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No carbon steerer tube for Hincapie!

No carbon steerer tube for Hincapie! (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Hincapie greets a fan as he heads for the start line.

Hincapie greets a fan as he heads for the start line. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The Colnago Extreme Power of Milram's Martin Müller is ready and waiting.

The Colnago Extreme Power of Milram's Martin Müller is ready and waiting. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The entire Milram team set off with 50mm-deep Shimano Dura-Ace carbon tubulars.

The entire Milram team set off with 50mm-deep Shimano Dura-Ace carbon tubulars. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The side of the Caisse d'Epargne bus was awash in red prior to the start.

The side of the Caisse d'Epargne bus was awash in red prior to the start. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Black, white and red is a popular color combination this year and few have done it better than Pinarello.

Black, white and red is a popular color combination this year and few have done it better than Pinarello. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The painted-to-match stem is a nice touch.

The painted-to-match stem is a nice touch. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Caisse d'Epargne mostly ran relatively shallow-section wheels.

Caisse d'Epargne mostly ran relatively shallow-section wheels. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Like many teams, though, some of the rims were clearly reserved only for special occasions. When was the last time you saw this rim in Campagnolo's catalog?

Like many teams, though, some of the rims were clearly reserved only for special occasions. When was the last time you saw this rim in Campagnolo's catalog? (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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22mm tires were apparently wide enough for Caisse d'Epargne today.

22mm tires were apparently wide enough for Caisse d'Epargne today. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Just prior to the start, the bike of Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner) is loaded with bottles and ready to get going.

Just prior to the start, the bike of Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner) is loaded with bottles and ready to get going. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Gerolsteiner riders were among those that preferred traditional box-section rims for Gent-Wevelgem.

Gerolsteiner riders were among those that preferred traditional box-section rims for Gent-Wevelgem. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Ambrosio is the rim brand of choice for Gerolsteiner.

Ambrosio is the rim brand of choice for Gerolsteiner. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Gerolsteiner's Thomas Fothen went with wider 25mm tires.

Gerolsteiner's Thomas Fothen went with wider 25mm tires. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Fothen went with wider tires for the cobbles but was apparently confident in his integrated carbon bar.

Fothen went with wider tires for the cobbles but was apparently confident in his integrated carbon bar. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Gerolsteiner's Peter Wrolich went with a carbon seatpost (but with a two-bolt head to keep from slipping).

Gerolsteiner's Peter Wrolich went with a carbon seatpost (but with a two-bolt head to keep from slipping). (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Even with the short and steep climbs of the day's course, a 23T cog was apparently all these riders needed.

Even with the short and steep climbs of the day's course, a 23T cog was apparently all these riders needed. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Gerolsteiner's S-Works Tarmac SLs are still fitted with non-replaceable derailleur hangers for crisper shifting.

Gerolsteiner's S-Works Tarmac SLs are still fitted with non-replaceable derailleur hangers for crisper shifting. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Baden Cooke of Barloworld tested out the team's new Bianchi on the Belgian roads.

Baden Cooke of Barloworld tested out the team's new Bianchi on the Belgian roads. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Cooke's spare bike was equipped with traditional box-section wheels.

Cooke's spare bike was equipped with traditional box-section wheels. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The front hub was made by Miche…

The front hub was made by Miche… (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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…as was the rear.

…as was the rear. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The matching quick-release skewer was a nice-looking alloy bit.

The matching quick-release skewer was a nice-looking alloy bit. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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FSA provides the Barloworld team with much of its equipment, including the chain…

FSA provides the Barloworld team with much of its equipment, including the chain… (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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…brake calipers…

…brake calipers… (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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…and crankset.

…and crankset. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Cooke's spare had box-section rims but he went with aero Mavic Cosmic Carbones for his primary rig.

Cooke's spare had box-section rims but he went with aero Mavic Cosmic Carbones for his primary rig. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Thor Hushovd of Crédit Agricole put his team-issued Look 595 to the test.

Thor Hushovd of Crédit Agricole put his team-issued Look 595 to the test. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Hushovd preferred to run Shimano's 50mm-deep Dura-Ace carbon tubulars.

Hushovd preferred to run Shimano's 50mm-deep Dura-Ace carbon tubulars. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Team-only Continental tubulars offered Hushovd good grip on the pavé.

Team-only Continental tubulars offered Hushovd good grip on the pavé. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The Shimano-specific spoke magnet usually holds reasonably well on its own but a little tape never hurts when it comes to cobbles.

The Shimano-specific spoke magnet usually holds reasonably well on its own but a little tape never hurts when it comes to cobbles. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Hushovd opts for an aluminum PRO stem, but then again, he may not have much of a choice since it is part of PRO's Hushovd-signature line.

Hushovd opts for an aluminum PRO stem, but then again, he may not have much of a choice since it is part of PRO's Hushovd-signature line. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Acqua e Sapone's DeRosa King 3 is a vision in red.

Acqua e Sapone's DeRosa King 3 is a vision in red. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The King 3 uses a pseudo-integrated seatmast design.

The King 3 uses a pseudo-integrated seatmast design. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Campagnolo's Red-edition Ergopower levers were on heaps of bikes in the peloton.

Campagnolo's Red-edition Ergopower levers were on heaps of bikes in the peloton. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Luca Paolini went deep for Gent-Wevelgem.

Luca Paolini went deep for Gent-Wevelgem. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Paolini also prefers fi'zi:k's ultralight Arione k:1 carbon-shelled saddle.

Paolini also prefers fi'zi:k's ultralight Arione k:1 carbon-shelled saddle. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Paolini's mechanic has to shave away a bit of the post in order to accommodate the saddle choice.

Paolini's mechanic has to shave away a bit of the post in order to accommodate the saddle choice. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Other Acqua e Sapone riders preferred a more traditional wheel.

Other Acqua e Sapone riders preferred a more traditional wheel. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Interestingly, Garmin GPS computers were a common sight (there's obviously no computer here, but it's a Garmin mount).

Interestingly, Garmin GPS computers were a common sight (there's obviously no computer here, but it's a Garmin mount). (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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UCI Pro Continental Team Mitsubishi-Jartazi was in the mix on its Basso bikes.

UCI Pro Continental Team Mitsubishi-Jartazi was in the mix on its Basso bikes. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The Mitsubishi-Jartazi team supposedly isn't officially sponsored by SRAM, but the company still set them up pretty well to make sure they were properly equipped for the race, bringing the total number of Red-equipped teams to three.

The Mitsubishi-Jartazi team supposedly isn't officially sponsored by SRAM, but the company still set them up pretty well to make sure they were properly equipped for the race, bringing the total number of Red-equipped teams to three. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Euskaltel-Euskadi riders hit the cobbles on new '09 Orbea Orcas.

Euskaltel-Euskadi riders hit the cobbles on new '09 Orbea Orcas. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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The AG2R team is now riding on the BH G4.

The AG2R team is now riding on the BH G4. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Skil-Shimano's tubulars tires were labeled as Michelin Pro2 Races, but Michelin still doesn't make tubulars. These were made in Thailand, likely making them either a Vittoria or Challenge.

Skil-Shimano's tubulars tires were labeled as Michelin Pro2 Races, but Michelin still doesn't make tubulars. These were made in Thailand, likely making them either a Vittoria or Challenge. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)
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Think Belgians are crazy about cycling? Street vendors sold replica jerseys, hats… and even toy team buses.

Think Belgians are crazy about cycling? Street vendors sold replica jerseys, hats… and even toy team buses. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com)

Race Tech: Gent-Wevelgem, April 9, 2008

The Gent-Wevelgem course still included some nasty cobbled sections, but they still weren't as bad as those in Paris-Roubaix and there weren't nearly as many of them. Moreover, Wednesday morning in Belgium brought refreshingly clear skies, calm winds and dry roads that stayed that way nearly all the way to the finish.

As such, teams and riders went decidedly more aggressive in their wheel choices for the day. Many were still on the traditionally spoked box-section tubular rims like they did during the Tour of Flanders, but several key players cracked out the full aero hoops as they raced for the finish line.

2007 Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O'Grady of Team CSC chose an 82mm-deep Zipp 808 rear wheel paired with a more moderate 58mm-deep Zipp 404 up front. Tire choice was a fairly standard 23mm-wide Vittoria Corsa EVO-CX tubular.

In fact, it looked like O'Grady's sole concession to the cobbles relative to his usual road setup was a pair of Bontrager harmonic dampers inserted into the ends of handlebars. While it always seemed to us that these little widgets actually did work as advertised, this was pretty much all the confirmation we could have asked for (plus it also helps that we've spotted Team High Road's George Hincapie using them before).

Like O'Grady, Hincapie opted for a deep-section Zipp carbon tubular rear mated with a medium-section (since when is 58mm considered 'medium'?) Zipp 404. The entire Milram team, on the other hand, set out on 50mm-deep Shimano Dura-Ace carbon tubulars front and rear across the board.

As for tires? It was mostly standard stuff here, although Gerolsteiner's Marcus Fothen beefed up a bit with his 25mm-wide Schwalbe tubulars.