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Race tech: Riders and teams doing final equipment checks before Paris-Roubaix

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Mark Cavendish was the only rider on HTC-Highroad to use the new Specialized McLaren Venge in Scheldeprijs.

Mark Cavendish was the only rider on HTC-Highroad to use the new Specialized McLaren Venge in Scheldeprijs.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Deda provides the Sky team with matching stems.

Deda provides the Sky team with matching stems.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) prefers Selle Italia's old-school Turbomatic saddle.

Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) prefers Selle Italia's old-school Turbomatic saddle.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Magic markers are a pro mechanic's best friends. The "Continental" logo is blacked out on Robbie McEwen's (RadioShack) tubular tires.

Magic markers are a pro mechanic's best friends. The "Continental" logo is blacked out on Robbie McEwen's (RadioShack) tubular tires.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Robbie McEwen's Trek Madone is tucked in among the rest of his RadioShack teammates' bike prior to the start of Scheldeprijs.

Robbie McEwen's Trek Madone is tucked in among the rest of his RadioShack teammates' bike prior to the start of Scheldeprijs.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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RadioShack's Robbie McEwen mixes the stiffness of his time trial outer chainring with the light weight of SRAM's standard titanium-caged front derailleur.

RadioShack's Robbie McEwen mixes the stiffness of his time trial outer chainring with the light weight of SRAM's standard titanium-caged front derailleur.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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RadioShack sprinter Robbie McEwen is using SRAM's S900 crank instead of the standard Red model.

RadioShack sprinter Robbie McEwen is using SRAM's S900 crank instead of the standard Red model.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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A SRAM PG-1070 cassette is fitted to the back end of Robbie McEwen's (RadioShack) Trek Madone.

A SRAM PG-1070 cassette is fitted to the back end of Robbie McEwen's (RadioShack) Trek Madone.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) used Bontrager's RXL carbon cages for Scheldeprijs.

Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) used Bontrager's RXL carbon cages for Scheldeprijs.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) tilts his bars down but mounts the levers up high.

Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) tilts his bars down but mounts the levers up high.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Ben King (RadioShack) is using Bontrager's new Affinity RXL saddle.

Ben King (RadioShack) is using Bontrager's new Affinity RXL saddle.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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US national champion Ben King of Team RadioShack gets his own custom red, white, and blue Trek Madone this season.

US national champion Ben King of Team RadioShack gets his own custom red, white, and blue Trek Madone this season.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Ben King (RadioShack) gets white hoods and tape to go along with his US national champion theme.

Ben King (RadioShack) gets white hoods and tape to go along with his US national champion theme.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Not many riders get a signature line of components.

Not many riders get a signature line of components.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) has switched to Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 but interestingly, he's not using the company's new sprint shifters.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) has switched to Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 but interestingly, he's not using the company's new sprint shifters.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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From the looks of things, Specialized makes different sets of seatpost head hardware to suit various saddle rail shapes.

From the looks of things, Specialized makes different sets of seatpost head hardware to suit various saddle rail shapes.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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A closer look at the tidy seatpost clamp on the Specialized McLaren Venge.

A closer look at the tidy seatpost clamp on the Specialized McLaren Venge.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) is using a fi'zi:k Arione CX saddle with braided carbon fiber rails.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) is using a fi'zi:k Arione CX saddle with braided carbon fiber rails.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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There's just the tiniest hint of a spacer tucked beneath Robbie McEwen's (RadioShack) Bontrager Race XXX Lite carbon fiber stem.

There's just the tiniest hint of a spacer tucked beneath Robbie McEwen's (RadioShack) Bontrager Race XXX Lite carbon fiber stem.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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A bit of electrical tape keeps the valve from rattling inside this Bontrager deep carbon rim.

A bit of electrical tape keeps the valve from rattling inside this Bontrager deep carbon rim.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 sprint shifters are fitted to the drops of Edvald Boasson Hagen's (Sky) Deda handlebars.

Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 sprint shifters are fitted to the drops of Edvald Boasson Hagen's (Sky) Deda handlebars.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Sky team mechanics mark the saddle height with a handy sticker.

Sky team mechanics mark the saddle height with a handy sticker.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Prologo general manager Paolo Mion says the new Scratch Pro TR will feature triple density foam and a triple stiffness shell with tuned flex for extra comfort.

Prologo general manager Paolo Mion says the new Scratch Pro TR will feature triple density foam and a triple stiffness shell with tuned flex for extra comfort.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) raced Scheldeprijs on a new saddle from team sponsor Prologo.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) raced Scheldeprijs on a new saddle from team sponsor Prologo.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) used Veloflex tubulars mounted on 50mm-deep Shimano carbon wheels for Scheldeprijs.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) used Veloflex tubulars mounted on 50mm-deep Shimano carbon wheels for Scheldeprijs.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The rear end of Sky's Pinarello Dogmas are unmistakably curvy.

The rear end of Sky's Pinarello Dogmas are unmistakably curvy.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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It's unclear whether these ribs curling from the top tube to the down tube offer any structural advantage to Sky's Pinarello Dogmas but they certainly are eye catching.

It's unclear whether these ribs curling from the top tube to the down tube offer any structural advantage to Sky's Pinarello Dogmas but they certainly are eye catching.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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It goes without saying that the Sky team is well equipped - on a number of fronts.

It goes without saying that the Sky team is well equipped - on a number of fronts.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Sky mechanics put the Token chain watchers to double duty - helping to keep the chain from falling to the inside but also acting as a handy guide for the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wire.

Sky mechanics put the Token chain watchers to double duty - helping to keep the chain from falling to the inside but also acting as a handy guide for the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wire.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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There's no mistaking these shapes as anything but a Pinarello.

There's no mistaking these shapes as anything but a Pinarello.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Like an increasing number of pros, Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen both trains and races with a power meter.

Like an increasing number of pros, Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen both trains and races with a power meter.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The extra bit of tape seems mostly unnecessary on Edvald Boasson Hagen's (Sky) computer mount, though perhaps it may prevent the mount from slipping downwards on rough ground.

The extra bit of tape seems mostly unnecessary on Edvald Boasson Hagen's (Sky) computer mount, though perhaps it may prevent the mount from slipping downwards on rough ground.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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It's a tight fit for two bottles on Edvald Boasson Hagen's Sky Pinarello Dogma.

It's a tight fit for two bottles on Edvald Boasson Hagen's Sky Pinarello Dogma.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Extra zip-ties keep the batteries from rattling on Sky team Pinarellos.

Extra zip-ties keep the batteries from rattling on Sky team Pinarellos.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) prefers an anatomic-bend handlebar.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) prefers an anatomic-bend handlebar.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Challenge is the official tire supplier to team RadioShack.

Challenge is the official tire supplier to team RadioShack.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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HTC-Highroad team mechanics glued a small magnet right on the sidewall of Mark Cavendish's Zipp 808 rear wheel.

HTC-Highroad team mechanics glued a small magnet right on the sidewall of Mark Cavendish's Zipp 808 rear wheel.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Zipp's 188 rear hub features adjustable preload for HTC-Highroad's CeramicSpeed bearings.

Zipp's 188 rear hub features adjustable preload for HTC-Highroad's CeramicSpeed bearings.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Cervelo S3's internal routing is designed to tuck the derailleur housing in 'dirty air' behind the stem, leaving clean surfaces at the head tube and down tube around which air can flow.

The Cervelo S3's internal routing is designed to tuck the derailleur housing in 'dirty air' behind the stem, leaving clean surfaces at the head tube and down tube around which air can flow.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Tyler Farrar's (Garmin-Cervelo) Cervelo S3 lies in wait prior to the start of Scheldeprijs.

Tyler Farrar's (Garmin-Cervelo) Cervelo S3 lies in wait prior to the start of Scheldeprijs.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Rotor is best known for its elliptical Q-Rings but Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) is using the round version instead.

Rotor is best known for its elliptical Q-Rings but Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) is using the round version instead.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Stout Arundel Mandible carbon cages are fitted to Tyler Farrar's (Garmin-Cervelo) Cervelo S3.

Stout Arundel Mandible carbon cages are fitted to Tyler Farrar's (Garmin-Cervelo) Cervelo S3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Tyler Farrar's (Garmin-Cervelo) handlebars are double wrapped in preparation for Paris-Roubaix.

Tyler Farrar's (Garmin-Cervelo) handlebars are double wrapped in preparation for Paris-Roubaix.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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This BMC rider wasn't taking any changes, opting for Easton's extra stiff and strong track handlebar.

This BMC rider wasn't taking any changes, opting for Easton's extra stiff and strong track handlebar.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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George Hincapie (BMC) uses fi'zi:k's Aliante Twin Flex saddle with k:ium rails.

George Hincapie (BMC) uses fi'zi:k's Aliante Twin Flex saddle with k:ium rails.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Diamond-treaded Continental tubulars are wrapped around Easton EC90 SL carbon wheels on George Hincapie's (BMC) bike.

Diamond-treaded Continental tubulars are wrapped around Easton EC90 SL carbon wheels on George Hincapie's (BMC) bike.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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BMC incorporated specially shaped sections of the seat stays, chain stays, and even the seatpost to gain more vertical give on its SLR01 Team Machine.

BMC incorporated specially shaped sections of the seat stays, chain stays, and even the seatpost to gain more vertical give on its SLR01 Team Machine.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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BMC captain George Hincapie used Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 group for his run at Scheldeprijs.

BMC captain George Hincapie used Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 group for his run at Scheldeprijs.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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BMC's SLR01 Team Machines look like standard-issue framesets at the start of Scheldeprijs but they're actually slightly tweaked for better performance on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix.

BMC's SLR01 Team Machines look like standard-issue framesets at the start of Scheldeprijs but they're actually slightly tweaked for better performance on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Paris-Roubaix versions of BMC's SLR01 fork use slightly longer blades to provide more tire clearance at the crown.

Paris-Roubaix versions of BMC's SLR01 fork use slightly longer blades to provide more tire clearance at the crown.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Like many pros, George Hincapie (BMC) regularly races on an SRM power meter as he did at Scheldeprijs.

Like many pros, George Hincapie (BMC) regularly races on an SRM power meter as he did at Scheldeprijs.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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George Hincapie (BMC) tackled Scheldeprijs with an Easton aluminum stem and bar wrapped with grippy fi'zi:k tape.

George Hincapie (BMC) tackled Scheldeprijs with an Easton aluminum stem and bar wrapped with grippy fi'zi:k tape.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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In addition to being a few millimeters longer, the chain stays on BMC's Paris-Roubaix-tweaked SLR01 Team Machines are slightly scalloped around the tire for extra clearance.

In addition to being a few millimeters longer, the chain stays on BMC's Paris-Roubaix-tweaked SLR01 Team Machines are slightly scalloped around the tire for extra clearance.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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BMC's George Hincapie enjoying a lighthearted moment on the steps of the team bus before departing for the start of Scheldeprijs.

BMC's George Hincapie enjoying a lighthearted moment on the steps of the team bus before departing for the start of Scheldeprijs.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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As always, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) is using a fi'zi:k Pave CX saddle.

As always, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) is using a fi'zi:k Pave CX saddle.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Mavic's Exalith sidewalls are said to provide better braking performance, especially in wet conditions.

Mavic's Exalith sidewalls are said to provide better braking performance, especially in wet conditions.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Specialized McLaren Venge uses relatively slender seat stays but we're guessing it still considerably stiffer than the company's Tarmac SL3 or Roubaix SL3.

The Specialized McLaren Venge uses relatively slender seat stays but we're guessing it still considerably stiffer than the company's Tarmac SL3 or Roubaix SL3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) put his new Specialized McLaren Venge to good use today, winning Scheldeprijs in a bunch sprint.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) put his new Specialized McLaren Venge to good use today, winning Scheldeprijs in a bunch sprint.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The unique headset top cap on the Specialized McLaren Venge is designed to blend in seamless with the rest of the frame.

The unique headset top cap on the Specialized McLaren Venge is designed to blend in seamless with the rest of the frame.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Specialized McLaren Venge uses a tapered head tube.

The Specialized McLaren Venge uses a tapered head tube.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Zipp's 404 carbon rim is wrapped with a Continental tubular tire on the front of Mark Cavendish's (HTC-Highroad) Specialized McLaren Venge.

Zipp's 404 carbon rim is wrapped with a Continental tubular tire on the front of Mark Cavendish's (HTC-Highroad) Specialized McLaren Venge.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The front end of Mark Cavendish's (HTC-Highroad) Specialized McLaren Venge looks just plain angry.

The front end of Mark Cavendish's (HTC-Highroad) Specialized McLaren Venge looks just plain angry.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The tapered carbon fork on Mark Cavendish's (HTC-Highroad) Specialized McLaren Venge features aero-shaped blades.

The tapered carbon fork on Mark Cavendish's (HTC-Highroad) Specialized McLaren Venge features aero-shaped blades.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) uses an extraordinarily massive stem on his Specialized McLaren Venge.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) uses an extraordinarily massive stem on his Specialized McLaren Venge.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) ran a tight 11-21T cassette for Scheldeprijs.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) ran a tight 11-21T cassette for Scheldeprijs.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Even the brake bridge on Specialized's new Venge is crafted with an aero shape - peraps to minimal effect but visually impressive nonetheless.

Even the brake bridge on Specialized's new Venge is crafted with an aero shape - peraps to minimal effect but visually impressive nonetheless.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Mark Cavendish's (HTC-Highroad) new Specialized Venge aero road frame uses press-fit bottom bracket cups.

Mark Cavendish's (HTC-Highroad) new Specialized Venge aero road frame uses press-fit bottom bracket cups.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) runs his Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 levers high on the PRO handlebars.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) runs his Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 levers high on the PRO handlebars.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Mechanics employ a variety of tricks to quell rattling valve stems. Here, a Garmin-Cervelo mechanic has simply built up the diameter of the valve stem before mounting the tire.

Mechanics employ a variety of tricks to quell rattling valve stems. Here, a Garmin-Cervelo mechanic has simply built up the diameter of the valve stem before mounting the tire.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Garmin-Cervelo riders mostly use the team-issue Vittoria tires but Tyler Farrar was using blacked-out Veloflex rubber at Scheldeprijs.

Garmin-Cervelo riders mostly use the team-issue Vittoria tires but Tyler Farrar was using blacked-out Veloflex rubber at Scheldeprijs.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Garmin-Cervelo mechanic Geoff Brown secures the valve stem on Tyler Farrar's Cervelo S3 to keep it from rattling.

Garmin-Cervelo mechanic Geoff Brown secures the valve stem on Tyler Farrar's Cervelo S3 to keep it from rattling.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) is using Shimano's groundbreaking Dura-Ace Di2 group.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) is using Shimano's groundbreaking Dura-Ace Di2 group.
(Image credit: James Huang)

Specialized certainly knows how to launch a new bike.

Days after introducing the McLaren Venge aero road bike to the world, HTC-Highroad rider Matt Goss won Milan-San Remo and now Mark Cavendish won a crash-marred sprint victory at Scheldeprijs aboard a similar machine.

Unlike in Italy, where multiple Venges were in play under HTC-Highroad riders, Cavendish's bike clearly stood out in the start area in Antwerp among the rest of the team, who were still using standard S-Works Tarmac SL3 rigs covered in team-issue livery rather than the McLaren's matte black and neon orange hues.

Cavendish looks to have fully embraced the aero movement, too, supplementing his slippery Venge with an aggressive Zipp 808 rear wheel and a Zipp 404 front rim (laced to a Shimano Dura-Ace hub). Though the total bike weight isn't particularly groundbreaking at 7.64kg (16.84lb) – and this is after the finish with caked-on energy drink and all – the Scheldeprijs route isn't exactly a climber's paradise so it was almost certainly more important to reduce drag rather than mass today.

Cavendish is also now on Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 after at least two seasons on the mechanical version, but we're currently waiting for word from HTC-Highroad on exactly why he finally made the switch. Interestingly, 'Cav' hasn't taken advantage of Shimano's optional satellite sprint shifters, though.

A closer look at Tyler Farrar's new Garmin-Cervélo S3

Like Scheldeprijs winner Cavendish, Garmin-Cervélo sprinter Tyler Farrar also opted for a full-blown aero road bike in his quest for another victory in Schoten.

Farrar's version was built around Cervélo's second-generation S3 model, which is still based on the older SLC-SL in concept but revamped with slim R3-like seat stays for a much improved ride, more refined internal cable routing relative to the first-gen S3 for easier servicing and reduced friction, and ultra-fat chain stays for efficient power transfer – a critical feature for a sprinter.

Similarly, Farrar's bike was fitted with aero wheels front and rear, though the Belgian transplant (he's an American living in Gent) went slightly less aggressive in profile with 52mm-deep Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLRs. Unlike Cavendish's all-carbon Zipp rims, though, Farrar's Mavics use aluminium hoops with aero carbon caps plus bladed carbon spokes that run from one side of the rim to the other.

Consumers still can't purchase the tubular versions used by Farrar and the rest of Garmin-Cervélo, but the production versions do share the team's unique Exalith sidewalls, which supposedly provide stronger and more predictable braking (especially in the wet) by virtue of an aggressive machined-in texture and an extra-hard surface treatment that requires the use of special pads.

Farrar's bike also sported double-wrapped bar tape – apparently in preparation for Sunday's beating – Veloflex tubulars with blacked-out logos, a 3T bar and stem, Rotor's innovative 3D+ cranks, aluminum Shimano Dura-Ace pedals, the team's usual SRAM Red running gear, a Garmin Edge 500 computer, and the sprinter's trademark fi'zi:k Pavé CX saddle mounted atop an aero carbon seatpost.

Robbie McEwen's Trek Madone 6.9

Team RadioShack veteran sprinter Robbie McEwen was likely hoping for a repeat of 2002 – the last time he won Scheldeprijs – when he wound up his new Trek Madone 6.9 for the bunch sprint to the line.

McEwen's Madone was dressed with SRAM Red DoubleTap levers, derailleurs (including the standard titanium front cage), and brake callipers, plus the usual PG-1070 cassette favored by most pros. McEwen opted for SRAM's S900 crankset, though, with its carbon arms and alloy spider and beefed up with a solid time trial outer ring.

Trek component division Bontrager supplied most of the rest of the gear, including the new 50mm-deep wide-profile carbon tubular wheels, the Race XXX Lite carbon stem, Race Lite VR aluminum bar, Node computer, and Race X Lite carbon cages.

Rounding out the build are blacked-out Continental tires (the team's official tire sponsor is Challenge), a Selle Italia Turbomatic saddle, Look KéO Blade pedals, a Cane Creek tapered headset, and Gore Ride-On sealed derailleur cables and housing.

Also showing up in the RadioShack team pit area was US national champion Ben King's custom-painted red, white, and blue Madone. King's build was similar to McEwen's with the exception of a Bontrager Affinity saddle, Challenge tubular tires, the black version of SRAM's Red group, and SRAM S900 carbon cranks with an SRM power measuring chainring spider.

BMC uses Scheldeprijs for final shakeouts of specially modified Paris-Roubaix framesets

The Scheldeprijs parcours is essentially flat and almost completely free of cobbles yet its place on the racing calendar still makes it a prime final testing ground for bikes and equipment that will be used just four days later in Paris-Roubaix. The BMC team – as did others, we're sure – did just that, opting to run their modified SLR01 Team Machines prior to the real test on Sunday.

Changes are decidedly subtle and well in keeping with what we've seen from top-end teams in recent years. Slightly longer chain stays yield extra tire clearance out back for fatter rubber and less chance of clogging with mud, and without having to resort to long-reach brakes. The longer rear-center lends more relaxed and stable handling, too, while the inner surfaces of the chain stays have also been slightly scalloped around the tire for even more room out to the sides.

Up front, a modified fork with longer blades does the same thing, lending extra clearance beneath the crown and effectively increasing the rake slightly, which again provides less nervous steering on account of the longer front center but also maintains the overall weight balance between both wheels for predictable handling.

New Prologo Scratch saddle variant spotted on Sky team bikes

We've become well accustomed to seeing new, previously unannounced Prologo models at big races and Scheldeprijs has revealed yet another one, this time on the Pinarello Dogma of Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen.

Boasson Hagen's new Prologo Scratch Pro TR appears to use the same fiber-reinforced nylon shell and general overall shape as other Scratch models but adds a deep and fairly broad channel running nearly the entire length of the saddle from front to rear to relieve pressure on soft tissue. Aside from the ill-fated Nago Pas, Prologo has mostly stayed away from design with channels and/or cutouts but this new model may signal a changing tide.

Prologo general manager Paolo Mion tells us Boasson Hagen's saddle is indeed a new model that was originally intended to be launched at Eurobike in August.

"This Scratch Pro TR is a prototype we created and developed for and with Boasson Hagen," he said. "It has the same philosophy of all Prologo saddles we develop – we start from a concept and then develop with the team or the great riders we have the pleasure to work with along with the sport-biomechanical university here in Italy before we put it on the market."

In addition to the central channel, the new Scratch Pro TR also gets Prologo's triple density foam padding and a triple stiffness hull for tuned flex. Mion says titanium railed versions will weigh 210-215g and Prologo will offer both 134mm and 143mm widths.

This story first appeared on Bikeradar.com.