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Tour de France tech: Hushovd's yellow Cervélo S5

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Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) has certainly shed the curse of the rainbow jersey this year, having not only earned it early on in this year's Tour de France but admirably defending it in unlikely situations, too.

Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) has certainly shed the curse of the rainbow jersey this year, having not only earned it early on in this year's Tour de France but admirably defending it in unlikely situations, too. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) was riding this rainbow-striped Cervélo S3 before donning the yellow jersey after stage 2 but now it's been relegated to spare duty. Rough life, eh?

Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) was riding this rainbow-striped Cervélo S3 before donning the yellow jersey after stage 2 but now it's been relegated to spare duty. Rough life, eh? (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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One thing you can always bet on with Alberto Contador's (Saxo Bank-Sungard) bikes - his bar tape is always absolutely perfect, courtesy of magician mechanic Faustino Munoz.

One thing you can always bet on with Alberto Contador's (Saxo Bank-Sungard) bikes - his bar tape is always absolutely perfect, courtesy of magician mechanic Faustino Munoz. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) is using a new grey-compound carbon-specific pad from SwissStop.

Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) is using a new grey-compound carbon-specific pad from SwissStop. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Alberto Contador's (Saxo Bank-Sungard) bike is once again fitted with anodized aluminum cable housing - and he's the only member of the team using it.

Alberto Contador's (Saxo Bank-Sungard) bike is once again fitted with anodized aluminum cable housing - and he's the only member of the team using it. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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SRAM Red chainrings are bolted on to the Specialized FACT carbon crank on Alberto Contador's (Saxo Bank-Sungard) Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3.

SRAM Red chainrings are bolted on to the Specialized FACT carbon crank on Alberto Contador's (Saxo Bank-Sungard) Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Specialized says Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) hasn't had enough testing time on the new Tarmac SL4 to be comfortable on it for the Tour de France so instead he's using his pair of custom painted S-Works Tarmac SL3 machines instead.

Specialized says Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) hasn't had enough testing time on the new Tarmac SL4 to be comfortable on it for the Tour de France so instead he's using his pair of custom painted S-Works Tarmac SL3 machines instead. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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We don't know what sort of mechanical trickery Saxo Bank-Sungard head mechanic Faustino Munoz has used on Alberto Contador's pedals but they spin incredibly smoothly. Munoz wouldn't let us shoot a video of them but rest assured that given a good flick, they'll spin freely on their own for several seconds.

We don't know what sort of mechanical trickery Saxo Bank-Sungard head mechanic Faustino Munoz has used on Alberto Contador's pedals but they spin incredibly smoothly. Munoz wouldn't let us shoot a video of them but rest assured that given a good flick, they'll spin freely on their own for several seconds. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Likewise, Saxo Bank-Sungard head mechanic Faustino Munoz has tweaked the rear derailleur pulleys on Alberto Contador's machine such that they spin noticeably faster and smoother than stock.

Likewise, Saxo Bank-Sungard head mechanic Faustino Munoz has tweaked the rear derailleur pulleys on Alberto Contador's machine such that they spin noticeably faster and smoother than stock. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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See a single speck of dirt or grime on the cassette, chain, or rear derailleur of Alberto Contador's (Saxo Bank-Sungard) bike? Neither do we.

See a single speck of dirt or grime on the cassette, chain, or rear derailleur of Alberto Contador's (Saxo Bank-Sungard) bike? Neither do we. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) plants himself atop a Prologo Nago Evo TR saddle with carbon fiber rails.

Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) plants himself atop a Prologo Nago Evo TR saddle with carbon fiber rails. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Saxo Bank-Sungard head mechanic Faustino Munoz likes to treat Alberto Contador's Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 with a smattering of lightweight goodies like these minimalist skewers.

Saxo Bank-Sungard head mechanic Faustino Munoz likes to treat Alberto Contador's Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 with a smattering of lightweight goodies like these minimalist skewers. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Saxo Bank-Sungard is mostly on Specialized's Venge and Tarmac SL3 machines, though two riders are on the newer McLaren development bike (basically a test mule for an upcoming ultra-premium version of the new SL4).

Saxo Bank-Sungard is mostly on Specialized's Venge and Tarmac SL3 machines, though two riders are on the newer McLaren development bike (basically a test mule for an upcoming ultra-premium version of the new SL4). (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Specialized has provided Saxo Bank-Sungard and HTC-Highroad with two different versions of its 'Project Black' S-Works McLaren test bike - one with ports for mechanical routing and another for Di2 only.

Specialized has provided Saxo Bank-Sungard and HTC-Highroad with two different versions of its 'Project Black' S-Works McLaren test bike - one with ports for mechanical routing and another for Di2 only. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The new Specialized Tarmac SL4 uses a slightly slimmed down tapered head tube as compared to the SL3 but the down tube and top tube are still very wide, lending a unique profile to the front-end view.

The new Specialized Tarmac SL4 uses a slightly slimmed down tapered head tube as compared to the SL3 but the down tube and top tube are still very wide, lending a unique profile to the front-end view. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Specialized won't officially confirm that this is an upcoming S-Works McLaren Tarmac SL4, preferring instead to refer to it as a "Project Black S-Works McLaren development bike."

Specialized won't officially confirm that this is an upcoming S-Works McLaren Tarmac SL4, preferring instead to refer to it as a "Project Black S-Works McLaren development bike." (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Saxo Bank-Sungard's team bikes ride to the start area atop the team car. One notable omission, though, is Alberto Contador's machine, which rides more securely in a lower hold on the team bus.

Saxo Bank-Sungard's team bikes ride to the start area atop the team car. One notable omission, though, is Alberto Contador's machine, which rides more securely in a lower hold on the team bus. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Saxo Bank-Sungard team mechanic Alejandro Torralbo has a lot of tires to glue just before the start of the Tour de France but he still has a smile on his face.

Saxo Bank-Sungard team mechanic Alejandro Torralbo has a lot of tires to glue just before the start of the Tour de France but he still has a smile on his face. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Zipp PR man Andy Paskins says the new 808 Firecrest will be Saxo Bank's go-to wheel on flatter stages when there isn't too much wind.

Zipp PR man Andy Paskins says the new 808 Firecrest will be Saxo Bank's go-to wheel on flatter stages when there isn't too much wind. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Some Garmin-Cervélo riders have also been spotted with this 80mm-deep Mavic wheel. While it's slathered in giant 'Cosmic' decals, the smaller model name decal says 'Comete'.

Some Garmin-Cervélo riders have also been spotted with this 80mm-deep Mavic wheel. While it's slathered in giant 'Cosmic' decals, the smaller model name decal says 'Comete'. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Garmin-Cervélo riders have been using a number of different Mavic wheels already in this year's Tour. This particular 80mm-deep carbon tubular rim rotates around a non-aero aluminum hub shell in contrast to the aero aluminum or carbon-and-aluminum ones used on other wheels.

Garmin-Cervélo riders have been using a number of different Mavic wheels already in this year's Tour. This particular 80mm-deep carbon tubular rim rotates around a non-aero aluminum hub shell in contrast to the aero aluminum or carbon-and-aluminum ones used on other wheels. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Cervélo says the S5 geometry was carried over from the latest R3, which was designed such that every rider on the team could achieve their desired bar height with a -17° stem and no spacers. Looks like they've got room to spare on Thor Hushovd's machine.

Cervélo says the S5 geometry was carried over from the latest R3, which was designed such that every rider on the team could achieve their desired bar height with a -17° stem and no spacers. Looks like they've got room to spare on Thor Hushovd's machine. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) runs 3T's classic-bend Rotundo bar on his Cervélo S5.

Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) runs 3T's classic-bend Rotundo bar on his Cervélo S5. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Cables are fed into the top of the top tube on Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) yellow-accented Cervélo S5.

Cables are fed into the top of the top tube on Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) yellow-accented Cervélo S5. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Arundel pampers Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) with rainbow-striped Mandible carbon cages.

Arundel pampers Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) with rainbow-striped Mandible carbon cages. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The asymmetrical chain stays on Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) new yellow-accented Cervélo S5 are fat and tall at the bottom bracket but rather flat just before the dropouts.

The asymmetrical chain stays on Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) new yellow-accented Cervélo S5 are fat and tall at the bottom bracket but rather flat just before the dropouts. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) Cervélo S5 is fitted with a de-logoed AceCo K-Edge chain watcher.

Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) Cervélo S5 is fitted with a de-logoed AceCo K-Edge chain watcher. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Round chainrings are fitted to Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) Rotor 3D+ cranks.

Round chainrings are fitted to Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) Rotor 3D+ cranks. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Yellow paint accented the flattened part of Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) Cervélo S5 down tube. Cervélo claims this modification helps divert air around water bottles for improved aerodynamics in real-world conditions.

Yellow paint accented the flattened part of Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) Cervélo S5 down tube. Cervélo claims this modification helps divert air around water bottles for improved aerodynamics in real-world conditions. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) Cervélo S5 doesn't go over the top with yellow, instead using splashes of it here and there in a more tasteful fashion.

Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) Cervélo S5 doesn't go over the top with yellow, instead using splashes of it here and there in a more tasteful fashion. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Safety tabs are filed off on Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) Cervélo S5 for faster wheel changes.

Safety tabs are filed off on Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) Cervélo S5 for faster wheel changes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) used a Mavic Cosmic Carbone Ultimate front wheel during Stage 5.

Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) used a Mavic Cosmic Carbone Ultimate front wheel during Stage 5. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) yellow Cervélo S5 is hard to miss atop the team car.

Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) yellow Cervélo S5 is hard to miss atop the team car. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Garmin-Cervélo mechanics use a short piece of twisted stainless steel to secure the race numbers on team bikes.

Garmin-Cervélo mechanics use a short piece of twisted stainless steel to secure the race numbers on team bikes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) uses Shimano's aluminum-bodied Dura-Ace pedals.

Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) uses Shimano's aluminum-bodied Dura-Ace pedals. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Cervélo's new S5 definitely cuts an unusual profile through the wind but its shape was apparently carved out of function, not form.

Cervélo's new S5 definitely cuts an unusual profile through the wind but its shape was apparently carved out of function, not form. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) ran an 80mm-deep Mavic carbon tubular rear wheel during Stage 5.

Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) ran an 80mm-deep Mavic carbon tubular rear wheel during Stage 5. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) uses the forward position on the dual-setback Cervélo S5 seatpost.

Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) uses the forward position on the dual-setback Cervélo S5 seatpost. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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With contents like this, it's no wonder teams like Saxo Bank-Sungard go to such extreme measures to secure their team vehicles.

With contents like this, it's no wonder teams like Saxo Bank-Sungard go to such extreme measures to secure their team vehicles. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)

A closer look at Thor Hushovd's yellow-accented Cervélo S5

Current world road champion Thor Hushovd got a nice bonus present to go along with the yellow jersey he and his Garmin-Cervélo squad won the team time trial on Sunday: a brand-new, yellow-accented Cervélo S5 aero road bike with the trimmings suitable the current leader of the Tour de France.

In contrast to some other special leaders' bikes we've seen in the past, Cervélo instead continues on its latest trend of subtle accents instead of the full-blown monochrome treatment. Hushovd's S5 is mainly black with yellow stripes and panels on the top tube and fork blades, a bit of yellow on the flattened top of the lower section of down tube, and a yellow "é" icon on the head tube. The bar tape and SRAM Red DoubleTap lever hoods are yellow, too, but otherwise it's essentially standard fare – even the fi'zi:k Arione CX Carbon saddle still retains the usual red stripe instead of a yellow (at least for now).

Hushovd's build kit is team-issue, including the SRAM Red transmission and brake calipers (but with a steel caged front derailleur and PG-1070 cassette), Rotor 3D+ crankset with round chainrings, 3T's Rotundo classic-bend aluminum bar and ARX-Team forged aluminum stem, custom rainbow-striped Arundel Mandible carbon bottle cages, a Garmin Edge 500 computer, and a variety of Mavic wheels to suit the day. Capping the spec list is a set of Shimano Dura-Ace aluminum-bodied SPD-SL pedals and a de-logoed AceCo K-Edge chain catcher.

Cables are fed into the top of the top tube on Thor Hushovd's (Garmin-Cervélo) yellow-accented Cervélo S5

Speedy bearings for Alberto Contador

On the surface, Alberto Contador's (Saxo Bank Sungard) Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 is just a regular consumer frame with a (very) fancy paint job and a smattering of top-end components – heck, the SL3 could even be considered old now that Specialized has announced the SL4 and put some other sponsored Tour de France riders on an even higher-end McLaren development mule. However, as we've found with his bikes in years past, it's what you can't see that makes the difference here.

Contador's personal wrench, Faustino Munoz, has long been known to go far above and beyond when it comes to the mechanical details of his client's machine. First off, it's always absolutely immaculate whenever we see it (except during and after a stage, of course) with characteristically bleach-white bar tape that's exquisitely applied, a surgically clean drivetrain, and gleaming paint – even the tires look perpetually brand-new.

Munoz also pays the same level of attention to the inner workings, though – in particular bearings. Every rotating item on Contador's bike spins with an almost impossibly low amount of friction that puts even the best box-stock machines to shame. Flick the drivetrain backwards and the crank spins as if there's no chain attached; spin a derailleur pulley on its own and it whirs silently; lift the front end and the wheel oscillates almost perpetually like a powered metronome; and most impressively, even the nearly inertia-free Speedplay Zero pedals will whirl for a couple of seconds if you nudge one with your finger.

Saxo Bank-Sungard head mechanic Faustino Munoz has tweaked the rear derailleur pulleys on Alberto Contador's machine such that they spin noticeably faster and smoother than stock

What's the secret? Unfortunately, like all top-shelf mechanics like this, Munoz wouldn't reveal his magic. In fact, he wouldn't even allow us to shoot a video of what we just described.

Full-ceramic bearings are a safe bet, however, especially given what we know is in use with a few other riders in the peloton, plus extra-low viscosity lubrication (if any at all). It may even be possible that Munoz has removed a few seals in search of a faster roll (Contador's bike is fastidiously maintained after all – don't try doing this at home).

Reliable sources have also suggested that Munoz is particularly obsessive in terms of bearing preload, too – something that's particularly noticeable in the bottom bracket what with the relatively imprecise wave washer setups that are normally used in BB30 systems like Contador's. Our guess would be a finely tuned micro-shim configuration that allows for perfect adjustment but again, that's just educated conjecture on our part without positive confirmation.

Either way, to say that every measure has been taken to ensure that Contador's machine is as speedy as possible would certainly be accurate. So does bearing friction matter? In most cases, given the modest gains afforded by the multitude of mediocre 'upgrades' currently on the market, probably not. But the difference in friction between Contador's bike and one off the showroom floor is remarkable and anyone who experienced it in person would find it hard to argue otherwise.

Given a good flick, Alberto Contador's Speedplay Zero pedals will spin freely on their own for several seconds

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar