Domination like this would typically be referred to as a 'legacy' in many sports - Cervélo has now won the 2010 Cyclingnews Reader Poll 'Best Team Bike' category for an unprecedented sixth straight year, and again with the aerodynamic S3 model of Cervélo TestTeam.
Just as in years past, the S3 certainly wasn't the lightest chassis in the running with a claimed frameset weight of around 1,050g. But as company principals Gerard Vroomen and Phil White have been preaching since the early days of the aluminum Soloist roughly a decade ago, aerodynamic performance can be more important than mass reduction in most racing situations.
The latest S3 iteration - an evolution of the SLC-SL predecessor - maintains the 'light', 'stiff', and 'aero' components of the equation but also now tackles the comfort portion as well with seat stays that were drastically slimmed down last year in an effort to improve ride quality.
"I think the appeal of the S2/S3 series is that it works, plain and simple," Vroomen told us upon hearing the news. "Unlike many "aero bikes", it's not aero to the detriment of other attributes - it is one of the best road bikes in the world and aero. Obviously our 15 years of experience in engineering aero road bikes help tremendously there. That's why the team uses it in the mountains, in sprints, on the cobbles, everywhere really."
Vroomen is quick to point out, too, that while his company's aero machines have won for six straight seasons, the basic formula of the winning models intentionally hasn't changed drastically.
"I think the Cyclingnews poll also indicates that consumers are tired of the endless "new and improved" song," he continued. "There are many companies that put out a 'new' model each year (or even two a year) that is again x% better than the previous one, and people are just not buying it. And here is Cervélo who says, 'This is the best bike we can make, we're not going to claim it's "all new" this year when it isn't and when there was no reason to change anything. Once we have something truly better, we'll let you know'. So the R3 was changed this fall after five years of service, and the change was massive and easily noticeable for people test-riding it. I think that's what people want, not an ADHD model line but a consistent philosophy and stuff that works."
Cervélo's winning margin has narrowed this year, though, from a rough 3:2 gap over second place last year to a tighter 6:5 ratio this time around over Team Sky's striking Pinarello Dogma. Like the S3, the Dogma doesn't primarily tout its showing at the scale - in this case it's about the overall ride quality, the handling, the unusually asymmetrical design, and lest it go unsaid, the irresistibly curvaceous lines.
In Sky's case, the stealthy-looking black and blue machines were also dressed up with Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 electronic group with internal wire routing to further clean up the appearance.
Specialized again takes the third spot with its top-end S-Works Tarmac SL3, used by both the Astana and Saxo Bank squads last season. Though the SL3 bears a strong resemblance to the older SL2, in reality they're quite different machines with unique construction methods, subtle but significant changes in shape, and new carbon inserts in both the bottom bracket and headset areas. Weight has dropped by about 150g according to Specialized and stiffness has jumped 19 percent overall, making for a more responsive chassis overall.
Cyclingnews Reader Poll results - Best team bike
Cervélo TestTeam Cervélo S3, 2949 votes (17.6%)
Sky Professional Cycling Team Pinarello Dogma, 2510 (14.9%)
Astana Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3, 1930 (11.5%)
Garmin-Transitions Felt AR, 1718 (10.2%)
Team RadioShack Trek Madone 6.9, 1533 (9.1%)
BMC Racing Team BMC TeamMachine SLR01, 1304 (7.8%)
Liquigas-Doimo Cannondale SuperSix Hi-Mod, 1114 (6.6%)
Team HTC-Columbia Scott Project F01, 1053 (6.3%)
BBox Bouygues Telecom Colnago C59, 804 (4.8%)
Cofidis Look 695, 738 (4.4%)
Rabobank Giant TCR Advanced SL, 663 (3.9%)
Euskaltel-Euskadi Orbea Orca, 471 (2.8%)
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