Skip to main content

Teams bring out the Classic gear for Stage 3 cobbles

Image 1 of 96

In addition to the different bike, Ivan Basso (Liquigas) also stuck with his lighter and faster Mavic Cosmic Carbone Ultimate wheels instead of the shallower wheels of most of his teammates.

In addition to the different bike, Ivan Basso (Liquigas) also stuck with his lighter and faster Mavic Cosmic Carbone Ultimate wheels instead of the shallower wheels of most of his teammates.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 2 of 96

Eddy Merckx called in its painter late on Monday to paint this EMX-5, arriving with just enough time for the mechanics to build it up before the start of Stage 3.

Eddy Merckx called in its painter late on Monday to paint this EMX-5, arriving with just enough time for the mechanics to build it up before the start of Stage 3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 3 of 96

When was the last time we saw a custom painted bike that celebrated its rider wearing both the yellow and green jerseys?

When was the last time we saw a custom painted bike that celebrated its rider wearing both the yellow and green jerseys?
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 4 of 96

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) poses with his custom painted Eddy Merckx.

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) poses with his custom painted Eddy Merckx.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 5 of 96

These giant Fast Forward decals on Sylvain Chavanel's Eddy Merckx are covering up Ambrosio logos.

These giant Fast Forward decals on Sylvain Chavanel's Eddy Merckx are covering up Ambrosio logos.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 6 of 96

Eddy Merckx himself signed this frame before it was delivered to Stage 3 GC leader Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step).

Eddy Merckx himself signed this frame before it was delivered to Stage 3 GC leader Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step).
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 7 of 96

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) naturally had a yellow helmet from BBB and yellow gloves from Vermarc to go along with his maillot jaune.

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) naturally had a yellow helmet from BBB and yellow gloves from Vermarc to go along with his maillot jaune.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 8 of 96

Quick Step led in three categories at the start of Stage 3 with Jerome Pineau in the polka dot jersey.

Quick Step led in three categories at the start of Stage 3 with Jerome Pineau in the polka dot jersey.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 9 of 96

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) wasn't the only one to soldier through the stage with a broken bone. Rabobank's Robert Gesink managed to finish with his own broken wrist aboard Giant's TCR Advanced SL.

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) wasn't the only one to soldier through the stage with a broken bone. Rabobank's Robert Gesink managed to finish with his own broken wrist aboard Giant's TCR Advanced SL.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 10 of 96

Rabobank spare bikes were equipped with classics-type wheels.

Rabobank spare bikes were equipped with classics-type wheels.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 11 of 96

Sealed Gore Ride-On cables (with yellow grub seals) were installed on Lance Armstrong's Team Radioshack Trek Madone.

Sealed Gore Ride-On cables (with yellow grub seals) were installed on Lance Armstrong's Team Radioshack Trek Madone.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 12 of 96

Sylvain Chavanel's (Quick Step) Campagnolo Record crankset was fitted with standard 53/39T chainrings.

Sylvain Chavanel's (Quick Step) Campagnolo Record crankset was fitted with standard 53/39T chainrings.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 13 of 96

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) spent a day in yellow with double-wrapped bars to carry him across the cobbles.

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) spent a day in yellow with double-wrapped bars to carry him across the cobbles.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 14 of 96

Alloy cages were swapped in on the Liquigas bikes to provide a more secure hold on the bottles.

Alloy cages were swapped in on the Liquigas bikes to provide a more secure hold on the bottles.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 15 of 96

Mavic's Reflex rims make their usual appearance on the cobbles, this time on the bikes of Liquigas.

Mavic's Reflex rims make their usual appearance on the cobbles, this time on the bikes of Liquigas.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 16 of 96

Most of the Liquigas squad chose softer-riding Cannondale Synapse bikes for Stage 3.

Most of the Liquigas squad chose softer-riding Cannondale Synapse bikes for Stage 3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 17 of 96

Cannondale says the Synapse's stay shaping helps give it a softer ride than the SuperSix Hi-Mod.

Cannondale says the Synapse's stay shaping helps give it a softer ride than the SuperSix Hi-Mod.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 18 of 96

Milram riders set off on Stage 3 on their standard Focus Izalco bikes fitted with box-section alloy rims and 25mm-wide Continental tires.

Milram riders set off on Stage 3 on their standard Focus Izalco bikes fitted with box-section alloy rims and 25mm-wide Continental tires.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 19 of 96

Double-wrapped bars adorn this Omega Pharma-Lotto Canyon.

Double-wrapped bars adorn this Omega Pharma-Lotto Canyon.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 20 of 96

Omega Pharma-Lotto chose to stick with their familiar Canyon Ultimate CF SLX bikes for Stage 3.

Omega Pharma-Lotto chose to stick with their familiar Canyon Ultimate CF SLX bikes for Stage 3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 21 of 96

Omega Pharma-Lotto's Canyon bikes are usually fitted with chain watchers but curiously went without for Stage 3.

Omega Pharma-Lotto's Canyon bikes are usually fitted with chain watchers but curiously went without for Stage 3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 22 of 96

Omega Pharma-Lotto team cars were equipped with a number of classics-type wheels.

Omega Pharma-Lotto team cars were equipped with a number of classics-type wheels.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 23 of 96

Continental's 25mm-wide Competition Pro Limited ProTection tubulars include extra reinforcement on the sidewalls.

Continental's 25mm-wide Competition Pro Limited ProTection tubulars include extra reinforcement on the sidewalls.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 24 of 96

Lance Armstrong 'Rode For' Nicholas DeSocio today, who succumbed to leukemia when he was just 20 years old.

Lance Armstrong 'Rode For' Nicholas DeSocio today, who succumbed to leukemia when he was just 20 years old.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 25 of 96

Lance Armstrong wasn't the only one to take a beating today; his Team Radioshack Trek Madone Unity got hammered across the cobbles, too.

Lance Armstrong wasn't the only one to take a beating today; his Team Radioshack Trek Madone Unity got hammered across the cobbles, too.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 26 of 96

Internal routing on Saxo Bank's Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 helps protect the cables in inclement conditions.

Internal routing on Saxo Bank's Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 helps protect the cables in inclement conditions.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 27 of 96

Saxo Bank riders on older Specialized S-Works Roubaix machines still had special full-length rear brake housing to keep the lines clean.

Saxo Bank riders on older Specialized S-Works Roubaix machines still had special full-length rear brake housing to keep the lines clean.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 28 of 96

Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) pulled out the big guns today with his Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL3.

Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) pulled out the big guns today with his Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 29 of 96

Saxo Bank took few chances today with key riders having multiple spare bikes at their disposal.

Saxo Bank took few chances today with key riders having multiple spare bikes at their disposal.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 30 of 96

Saxo Bank's spare wheels were all Zipp 303 carbon tubulars.

Saxo Bank's spare wheels were all Zipp 303 carbon tubulars.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 31 of 96

As with Paris-Roubaix, Saxo Bank went with bulbous FMB tubulars for Stage 3 of the Tour de France.

As with Paris-Roubaix, Saxo Bank went with bulbous FMB tubulars for Stage 3 of the Tour de France.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 32 of 96

Zertz elastomeric inserts in both the seat stays and the fork blades help kill vibration, according to Specialized.

Zertz elastomeric inserts in both the seat stays and the fork blades help kill vibration, according to Specialized.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 33 of 96

Team Sky went the conservative route with their alloy Elite Ciussi Gel bottle cages.

Team Sky went the conservative route with their alloy Elite Ciussi Gel bottle cages.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 34 of 96

Team Sky brought out their Pinarello KOBH 60.1 rigs, which were last in heavy rotation at Paris-Roubaix.

Team Sky brought out their Pinarello KOBH 60.1 rigs, which were last in heavy rotation at Paris-Roubaix.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 35 of 96

Team Sky spare wheels were mostly of the box-section aluminum tubular variety.

Team Sky spare wheels were mostly of the box-section aluminum tubular variety.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 36 of 96

Saxo Bank mechanics installed Speedplay's special Zero Paris-Roubaix pedals for Stage 3.

Saxo Bank mechanics installed Speedplay's special Zero Paris-Roubaix pedals for Stage 3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 37 of 96

Saxo Bank riders went with bigger 53/44T chainrings for their run at Stage 3.

Saxo Bank riders went with bigger 53/44T chainrings for their run at Stage 3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 38 of 96

Team Radioshack went with their usual Trek Madones today.

Team Radioshack went with their usual Trek Madones today.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 39 of 96

Standard brake pad positions on the Team Radioshack Trek Madones confirmed that they were standard machines, not subtly modified ones like at Paris-Roubaix.

Standard brake pad positions on the Team Radioshack Trek Madones confirmed that they were standard machines, not subtly modified ones like at Paris-Roubaix.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 40 of 96

Trek Bat Cages are light but hold on to bottle deceptively tight.

Trek Bat Cages are light but hold on to bottle deceptively tight.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 41 of 96

Team Radioshack went with 11-23T SRAM PG-1070 cassettes today.

Team Radioshack went with 11-23T SRAM PG-1070 cassettes today.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 42 of 96

Trek's standard Madone forks have enough clearance for 25mm-wide tubulars.

Trek's standard Madone forks have enough clearance for 25mm-wide tubulars.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 43 of 96

Spare Radioshack bikes were already fitted with classics-type aluminum box-section wheels.

Spare Radioshack bikes were already fitted with classics-type aluminum box-section wheels.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 44 of 96

Team mechanics fitted all of the Radioshack machines with 25mm-wide Hutchinson tubulars.

Team mechanics fitted all of the Radioshack machines with 25mm-wide Hutchinson tubulars.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 45 of 96

Brake pads slid nearly all the way down in the caliper slots provide a good clue as to how much room is beneath the fork crown.

Brake pads slid nearly all the way down in the caliper slots provide a good clue as to how much room is beneath the fork crown.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 46 of 96

Saxo Bank uses sealed Gore Ride-On derailleur cables to help maintain shifting performance in bad weather.

Saxo Bank uses sealed Gore Ride-On derailleur cables to help maintain shifting performance in bad weather.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 47 of 96

SRAM PG-1070 cassettes were standard equipment for the Saxo Bank guys today.

SRAM PG-1070 cassettes were standard equipment for the Saxo Bank guys today.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 48 of 96

Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) could conveniently change gears from the tops during Stage 3 thanks to Shimano's remote Dura-Ace Di2 shifter.

Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) could conveniently change gears from the tops during Stage 3 thanks to Shimano's remote Dura-Ace Di2 shifter.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 49 of 96

Fat FMB tubulars were wrapped around 35mm-deep Shimano Dura-Ace carbon rims for Team Sky.

Fat FMB tubulars were wrapped around 35mm-deep Shimano Dura-Ace carbon rims for Team Sky.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 50 of 96

Cofidis rode their standard Look machines but swapped in box-section alloy wheels.

Cofidis rode their standard Look machines but swapped in box-section alloy wheels.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 51 of 96

24mm-wide Vittoria Pave EVO-CG tires were a popular choice today.

24mm-wide Vittoria Pave EVO-CG tires were a popular choice today.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 52 of 96

Cervélo TestTeam riders (aside from Carlos Sastre but including stage winner Thor Hushovd) all opted for their standard S3 aero bikes and carbon wheels.

Cervélo TestTeam riders (aside from Carlos Sastre but including stage winner Thor Hushovd) all opted for their standard S3 aero bikes and carbon wheels.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 53 of 96

All of Cervélo TestTeam started on Zipp's 303 carbon tubular rims - including this early prototype that race engineer Damon Rinard was deemed still good for racing.

All of Cervélo TestTeam started on Zipp's 303 carbon tubular rims - including this early prototype that race engineer Damon Rinard was deemed still good for racing.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 54 of 96

Footon-Servetto riders used their usual SST 1.0 rigs with box-section aluminum tubulars mounted.

Footon-Servetto riders used their usual SST 1.0 rigs with box-section aluminum tubulars mounted.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 55 of 96

Footon-Servetto used Red cassettes while most other SRAM-sponsored teams opted for the PG-1070.

Footon-Servetto used Red cassettes while most other SRAM-sponsored teams opted for the PG-1070.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 56 of 96

Challenge makes an appearance in Stage 3 of the Tour de France with its Paris-Roubaix tubulars.

Challenge makes an appearance in Stage 3 of the Tour de France with its Paris-Roubaix tubulars.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 57 of 96

Double-wrapped bars helped Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) make it to the finish line today.

Double-wrapped bars helped Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) make it to the finish line today.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 58 of 96

While many other teams swapped to aluminum bottle cages, Garmin-Transitions' Arundel Mandible carbon holders grasp tightly enough to use on the cobbles.

While many other teams swapped to aluminum bottle cages, Garmin-Transitions' Arundel Mandible carbon holders grasp tightly enough to use on the cobbles.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 59 of 96

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) gutted it out today aboard his usual Felt F1.

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) gutted it out today aboard his usual Felt F1.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 60 of 96

BMC ran a mix of Easton SL and SLX carbon wheels plus alloy box-section hoops from Ambrosio, all wrapped in 25mm-wide Continental tubulars.

BMC ran a mix of Easton SL and SLX carbon wheels plus alloy box-section hoops from Ambrosio, all wrapped in 25mm-wide Continental tubulars.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 61 of 96

Cadel Evans (BMC) switched to a softer-riding BMC SLR01 for Stage 3.

Cadel Evans (BMC) switched to a softer-riding BMC SLR01 for Stage 3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 62 of 96

ag2r-La Mondiale went with their usual Kuota KOM machines for Stage 3.

ag2r-La Mondiale went with their usual Kuota KOM machines for Stage 3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 63 of 96

ag2r-La Mondiale stuck with composite Elite bottle cages.

ag2r-La Mondiale stuck with composite Elite bottle cages.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 64 of 96

SRAM's PG-1070 cassettes as seen here on the bikes of ag2r-La Mondiale offer more mud clearance than the lighter PG-1090.

SRAM's PG-1070 cassettes as seen here on the bikes of ag2r-La Mondiale offer more mud clearance than the lighter PG-1090.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 65 of 96

Curiously, ag2r-La Mondiale rider Nicholas Roche's spare machine was fitted with deeper-section carbon clinchers, not tubulars.

Curiously, ag2r-La Mondiale rider Nicholas Roche's spare machine was fitted with deeper-section carbon clinchers, not tubulars.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 66 of 96

ag2r-La Mondiale went with a curious selection of spare bikes and wheels, most of which were clinchers.

ag2r-La Mondiale went with a curious selection of spare bikes and wheels, most of which were clinchers.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 67 of 96

Michelin only offers clincher tires to consumers but ag2r-La Mondiale started out with tubulars today.

Michelin only offers clincher tires to consumers but ag2r-La Mondiale started out with tubulars today.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 68 of 96

Astana riders opted for their usual Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3s today.

Astana riders opted for their usual Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3s today.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 69 of 96

Astana team cars were stocked with an army of Zipp 303 carbon tubulars, spare bikes, plus some alloy box-section wheels.

Astana team cars were stocked with an army of Zipp 303 carbon tubulars, spare bikes, plus some alloy box-section wheels.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 70 of 96

Zipp's 303 has already proven itself in the spring classics so it was no surprise to see many teams sticking with them today.

Zipp's 303 has already proven itself in the spring classics so it was no surprise to see many teams sticking with them today.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 71 of 96

BBox-Bouygues Telecom team leader Thomas Voeckler set off on a Colnago EPS.

BBox-Bouygues Telecom team leader Thomas Voeckler set off on a Colnago EPS.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 72 of 96

Tyler Farrar's (Garmin-Transitions) Felt F1 was fitted with Mavic Open Pro box-section rims.

Tyler Farrar's (Garmin-Transitions) Felt F1 was fitted with Mavic Open Pro box-section rims.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 73 of 96

As far as we're aware, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) is the only rider in the peloton to use fi'zi:k's Pave CX saddle.

As far as we're aware, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) is the only rider in the peloton to use fi'zi:k's Pave CX saddle.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 74 of 96

Two guesses where Robbie McEwen (Katusha) is from!

Two guesses where Robbie McEwen (Katusha) is from!
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 75 of 96

Most of the Katusha team set off with shallow-section Campagnolo Hyperon carbon tubular wheels.

Most of the Katusha team set off with shallow-section Campagnolo Hyperon carbon tubular wheels.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 76 of 96

Spare Katusha bikes were fitted with alloy box-section wheels.

Spare Katusha bikes were fitted with alloy box-section wheels.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 77 of 96

This Katusha rider used a relatively small 23mm-wide Vredestein tire but one with an ultra supple-riding silk casing.

This Katusha rider used a relatively small 23mm-wide Vredestein tire but one with an ultra supple-riding silk casing.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 78 of 96

Some Lampre riders went with double-wrapped bars.

Some Lampre riders went with double-wrapped bars.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 79 of 96

Lampre's carbon fiber Tacx Tao cages were augmented with strips of grip tape.

Lampre's carbon fiber Tacx Tao cages were augmented with strips of grip tape.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 80 of 96

Lampre stuck with their standard Wilier Cento 1 SL machines.

Lampre stuck with their standard Wilier Cento 1 SL machines.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 81 of 96

Lampre mechanics placed short sections of inner tube around the Campagnolo Record Ergopower levers presumably to keep them from rattling.

Lampre mechanics placed short sections of inner tube around the Campagnolo Record Ergopower levers presumably to keep them from rattling.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 82 of 96

Lampre's Ambrosio aluminum box-section tubular rims were wrapped with giant 27mm-wide Vittoria rubber.

Lampre's Ambrosio aluminum box-section tubular rims were wrapped with giant 27mm-wide Vittoria rubber.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 83 of 96

Lampre mechanics do a last-minute check before the start of Stage 3.

Lampre mechanics do a last-minute check before the start of Stage 3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 84 of 96

Robbie McEwen (Katusha) stuck with his usual Ridley Noah for Stage 3.

Robbie McEwen (Katusha) stuck with his usual Ridley Noah for Stage 3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 85 of 96

The Ridley Noah's split-blade fork design cuts down on aerodynamic drag but also provides a handy pass-through for the mechanic's zip-ties.

The Ridley Noah's split-blade fork design cuts down on aerodynamic drag but also provides a handy pass-through for the mechanic's zip-ties.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 86 of 96

25mm-wide Vittoria Pave EVO-CX tires provided a little extra cushioning for Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) as he pounded his way across the cobbles.

25mm-wide Vittoria Pave EVO-CX tires provided a little extra cushioning for Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) as he pounded his way across the cobbles.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 87 of 96

Alloy Elite Ciussi cages were swapped in for the usual carbon units on the HTC-Columbia bikes.

Alloy Elite Ciussi cages were swapped in for the usual carbon units on the HTC-Columbia bikes.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 88 of 96

The entire HTC-Columbia team swapped to Scott's new Project F01 aero road bike for Stage 3.

The entire HTC-Columbia team swapped to Scott's new Project F01 aero road bike for Stage 3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 89 of 96

HTC-Columbia riders stuck with their usual carbon rims but added some further cushioning with 25mm-wide Continental tubulars.

HTC-Columbia riders stuck with their usual carbon rims but added some further cushioning with 25mm-wide Continental tubulars.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 90 of 96

HTC-Columbia team cars were armed with Scott Addict spare bikes plus a multitude of spare classics-type wheels.

HTC-Columbia team cars were armed with Scott Addict spare bikes plus a multitude of spare classics-type wheels.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 91 of 96

Katusha mechanics made their own pseudo-sealed cables instead of using Gore's ready-made system.

Katusha mechanics made their own pseudo-sealed cables instead of using Gore's ready-made system.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 92 of 96

Many riders opted for classics-style 53/44T chainrings today but Robbie McEwen (Katusha) stuck with his usual ratios.

Many riders opted for classics-style 53/44T chainrings today but Robbie McEwen (Katusha) stuck with his usual ratios.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 93 of 96

Katusha is using Lazer's latest Helium helmet with dual-density foam, fiber composite reinforcements and lighter and softer straps.

Katusha is using Lazer's latest Helium helmet with dual-density foam, fiber composite reinforcements and lighter and softer straps.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 94 of 96

Robbie McEwen's (Katusha) went with heavily padded bars for his run at Stage 3.

Robbie McEwen's (Katusha) went with heavily padded bars for his run at Stage 3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 95 of 96

Elite's new Sior carbon cages apparently hold bottles tightly enough for cobbles.

Elite's new Sior carbon cages apparently hold bottles tightly enough for cobbles.
(Image credit: James Huang)
Image 96 of 96

Liquigas team leader Ivan Basso rode Stage 3 on his usual Cannondale SuperSix Hi-Mod while most of the rest of the team opted for the softer-riding Synapse.

Liquigas team leader Ivan Basso rode Stage 3 on his usual Cannondale SuperSix Hi-Mod while most of the rest of the team opted for the softer-riding Synapse.
(Image credit: James Huang)

213km-long (132mi) Stage 3 encompasses just 13.2km (8.2mi) of Northern Classics pavé spread across seven secteurs. Though conditions at the start were warm and sunny, teams and riders were taking few chances equipment-wise after yesterday's crash-filled fiasco with expectedly conservative setups that would help ensure rider safety – and hopefully, bike survival.

Most teams – including Astana, Team Radioshack, Quick Step, Garmin-Transitions, and Cervélo TestTeam – opted to run their usual machines but augmented with some of the usual tricks to better handle the bumps. Common practice included a mix of wider tubular tires measuring up to 27mm (and run at lower pressures), sturdier alloy bottle cages, and a few sightings of double-wrapped bars. Larger inner chainrings were fairly common as well.

"In the Tour de France, [our] riders use the S3 the day before and after so generally they prefer to stay on the same bike for stage 3 if possible," said Cervélo TestTeam race engineer Damon Rinard. "Remember there are only a few tens of kilometers of pavé, all near the end of the stage, and plenty of normal roads beforehand. So the added pavé can be dramatic, but we know the dramatic part doesn't take away the racing they have to do to get there."

Rim selection looked split roughly down the middle between alloy and carbon, though, with HTC-Columbia and Radioshack even choosing their usual deep-section wheels. However, it's also worth noting that the support cars for those teams – and the bikes mounted atop them – were mostly stocked with Classics-style wheels.

BMC was one team that mostly went the carbon route.

"We're using an assortment of our classics wheels," said team mechanic Ian Sherburne. "We will have Easton SLX (shallow 24mm carbon rim), SL (medium 36mm carbon), and aluminum box section rims, all with Continental 25mm tires."

Still, a few teams pulled out the big guns such as Saxo Bank, Team Sky, and Liquigas-Doimo – perhaps a nod as to how important those teams considered those short sections of pavé to be during the course of the stage.

Saxo Bank pulled out their full-blown Paris-Roubaix bikes, with Andy and Fränk Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, and Stuart O'Grady riding Specialized's latest S-Works Roubaix SL3 and the rest of the team on their specially prepared Roubaix SL2s. Zipp 303 carbon rims were mounted throughout, wrapped with fat 25mm-wide FMB Paris-Roubaix tubulars.

Likewise, Sky opted for the Pinarello KOBH 60.1 bikes they used in Paris-Roubaix instead of their usual Dogmas, deciding that the more stable handling, softer ride, and more generous tire clearances were necessary for the day's parcours. Cushy FMB tubular tires were again put into play but here they were mounted to Shimano's latest C35 carbon wheels.

Liquigas riders were mostly on the softer and more stable Cannondale Synapse but Ivan Basso and Roman Kreuziger were on their usual SuperSix Hi-Mods. Mavic wheel choices were split along similar lines with the Synapse framesets matched to either handbuilt Open Pro box-section tubulars or the carbon-spoked R-Sys, and the two team leaders sticking to their lighter and speedier Cosmic Carbone Ultimates.

One of the most interesting equipment stories of the day belonged to the AG2R-La Mondiale squad. Those riders set off on perfectly reasonable mid-section Reynolds MV32UL/T carbon tubulars and standard-width tubulars (shod with Michelin logos, though the company only currently offers clinchers) but we're struggling to figure out the team's choice of spares.

Most of the wheels mounted atop the team car were aluminum DT Swiss clinchers with 23mm-wide Michelin Pro 3 Race tires. Moreover, two of team leader Nicholas Roche's spare bikes were also equipped with 23mm-wide Michelin Pro 3 Race clincher tire wrapped around even-deeper Reynolds DV46UL/C carbon rims.

Whatever options they ultimately chose, adding to the teams' decision-making processes was a recent UCI rule update that prohibited teams from staging support staff along the cobbled sections with spare bikes. Teams could still place staff roadside with spare wheels but complete bikes had to come from atop a team car, meaning a replacement could be long delayed depending on the race situation and position of the support vehicles – not exactly a good time to gamble with durability.