With a palmares as glowing as that of Dutch superstar Ellen van Dijk you’d be forgiven for wondering where she could turn to cap off her stellar career. A former winner of the Tour of Flanders, she has also pulled on the rainbow bands in the individual time trial not once but twice, and it’s this TT expertise that she hopes to draw on while aiming to set a new women's hour record later today.
Supreme fitness and mental fortitude are required, but so is a very specific kind of bike. For her attempt, van Dijk will be riding a modified version of her Trek Speed Concept TT machine, allowing some level of familiarity and transferability of position from her usual roadgoing version.
The hour record has a very particular set of demands. You might imagine it’s one for the kind of track bikes you see during the Olympics, such as the Lotus x Hope HB.T, but due to the duration it’s more akin to a hyper-controlled time trial than a track event. The riders who attempt to lay down their marker usually ply their trade on the road day to day, and so tend to go for modified versions of their road TT bikes; Wiggins atop his Pinarello Bolide, Dowsett aboard his Factor Hanzo. There are also sponsorship commitments to consider, too. If one of your paid riders is going for one of cycling’s biggest prizes you want them to be on your equipment.
Using a stock Speed Concept, the designers and engineers at Trek have made some subtle but vital mods to make the bike track ready. The most obvious modification is at the rear: The silhouette is familiar, but with a requirement for fixed gearing the rear derailleur has been done away with and the dropouts replaced with sliding ones to allow different gear ratios and adjustments to chain tension. The whole rear end has also been made narrower, so as to accommodate a narrower track hub. Van Dijk is reported to be running a 58-14 ratio to allow a cadence of between 93-97 RPM over the duration of her attempt.
Similarly the forks, usually a thru-axle affair on the latest generation of the Speed Concept, have been swapped to a bolt-on version. There’s no scope for a wheel change, so anything other than low profile, aerodynamically optimised bolts create unnecessary drag. Other turbulent frivolities such as bottle bosses have been jettisoned from the frame too as there’ll be no time to take a drink.
Speaking of wheels, the double-disc arrangement is familiar in most pursuit disciplines on the track now, and it’s no surprise to see a pair of Zipp Sub 9 track wheels as part of the build. They’re glued to 23mm prototype Pirelli tubulars which will be run at approximately 116psi. The actual pressure value will depend on the temperature during the attempt itself. The clock face is a fitting motif and might look familiar to some of you as Jens Voigt also had a similarly be-decaled set of Bontrager disc wheels on his Speed Concept hour record bike.
The finishing touches
Up front there is what appears to be a set of custom aftermarket extensions, but these are in fact an in-house set produced by Trek. Custom extensions are very much the norm at the pointy end of any ride against the clock - handlebars, as the first point of contact with the air, play a critical role in overall aerodynamics - but we don’t often see big brands making custom extensions. Thanks to the UCI rules it means these will technically be available, but probably for either a prohibitively expensive price or with a lead time approaching infinity. Or both.
There are ceramic bearings throughout, and unusually a Sram XX1 1x chain has been opted for over a track specific chain. The front chainring is a road going narrow-wide SRAM option paired to a Quarq power meter, which we assume wouldn't have meshed so well with the wider track chains.
The paint, a blue and white split design in the colours of Trek Segafredo, will appear to flip from the perspective of a fixed camera depending on which side of the velodrome she is on at the time. The design is understated but well executed, with a bold reminder to Hold The Line at the base of the bars to help keep things on track.
For a two time world champion the clothing needed has already been fettled to the nth degree, and so van Dijk will rider her standard Santini skinsuit and Giro Aerohead helmet combo, though with special colours.
How to Watch Ellen van Dijk's Hour attempt
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