Pro bike: Filippo Pozzato’s Liquigas Cannondale SuperSix

Pippo’s green dream machine

Filippo “Pippo” Pozzato (Liquigas) is no shrinking violet.  Rarely a race goes by without him unveiling a new pair of shoes – like the flowery ones he wore at Milano-Sanremo this year – or a new paint scheme for his bike.  His flowing blonde hair is always immaculate (before the races anyway) and off the bike he drives a Ferrari and is one of the most style conscious riders in the peloton.  

At this year’s Tour de France the 2006 winner of La Primavera is hoping to add to his tally of two stage victories astride a Tour de France commemorative special.

As a classics specialist, the Italian has been trying to get himself into breakaways this year to have some chance of getting that stage victory.  On stage 11’s transitional parcours into Foix he was a member of the group that managed to escape the peloton but unfortunately missed the decisive split in the closing stages and finished a disappointing 7th behind CSC-Saxo Bank’s Kurt-Asle Arvesen.  He hasn’t managed to feature since, but as soon as the race leaves the Alps in the journey towards Paris we fully expect him to try his luck at least once more.

The Barza paint scheme has been meticulously cared for by the Liquigas mechanics - even the bottom bracket area is still pristine.

Like a number of his Italian compatriots – including current world and Olympic champion Paolo Bettini – Pippo has employed the services of Como company Barza Design for a hand painted one off paint scheme.  Previous custom-finished had been based broadly on the standard Liquigas team motif but this latest one is a complete departure with its colour-shifting dark green hue with gold metallic accents beneath the thick clearcoat.

The frame’s custom decals feature more gold but, rather than being flat metallic, have an almost pink marble appearance – just like the stone that is such a prominent feature of Pippo’s native Veneto region.  Just to make things perfectly clear, some blue, white and red lettering on the down tube proudly states that this was done specially for this year’s Tour de France.

Beneath the paint this is supposedly a standard SuperSix frame, like the others that Pozzato’s Liquigas team-mates ride (though we have reasons to believe otherwise).  The SuperSix was launched by Cannondale during last year’s Giro d’Italia and, although it was presented alongside – rather than above – existing frames, it quickly became the weapon of choice for the entire team in all but the most extreme races.  Save for the Synapse – which is more of a ‘performance’ rig - this was the first full-carbon dedicated road race offering from the American company more famous for its exploits in aluminium.  In fact the only metal elements of the SuperSix are small aluminium plates to reinforce the dropouts.

The rear derailleur is fixed to a replaceable aluminium hanger - one of the few bits of metal on the SuperSix frame.

The SuperSix frame is built around a one-piece bottom bracket, down tube and chain stay section.  Cannondale says that by making this area as one – rather than simply piling on the layers of carbon – allows it to make the highest stress point of the bike as stiff as possible while still keeping it lightweight.  The asymmetric chain stays are designed to cope with the different stresses experienced by either side and the seat stays are very thin to allow for a certain amount of vertical compliance.

The stiffness is maximised at the front end of the SuperSix with a massive head tube and the matching fork’s tapered steerer tube.  As is becoming almost normal nowadays the tube tapers from 1 1/8” at the stem clamp to 1 1/2” at the crown.  Cannondale admits that the SuperSix is not quite as stiff as its SystemSix sister – which is a carbon/aluminium mix – but says it’s not far off.  Moreover, it’s a lighter frame and so has a superior stiffness to weight ratio, and has the benefit of being more comfortable. 

Pippo’s particular Tour de France machine might not give anything at all up to the SystemSix in terms of stiffness though.  While the special paint scheme has probably added a few grams the complete bike weight is 7.41kg (16.3lb), still quite light for a bike of this size but well above the UCI’s statutory minimum.  As such, we can’t help but wonder if there are a few extra carbon plies applied somewhere for a little extra rigidity (a common practice for the field’s top sprinters).   

Liquigas is one of the seven teams at the Tour de France sponsored by Campagnolo and its bikes are equipped accordingly with almost complete Record groupsets.  The sole departure from the Italian company’s equipment is the Cannondale Hollowgram SL chainset, claimed to be the “lightest and stiffest production crankset on the planet” owing in no small part to its oversized BB30 bottom bracket.  Pozzato’s crank arms are 175mm long to suit his long legs and, like virtually the entire peloton in road races, he typically uses standard 53/39T tooth rings.

The Liquigas team's drivetrain is a mixture of Campagnolo and Cannondale.

Campagnolo subsidiary Fulcrum provides the wheels and Pozzato has a pair of deep-section carbon Racing Speeds, which weigh in at just over 1300g a pair.  The tyres continue the Italian theme in the form of 23mm-wide Vittoria Corsa Evo-CX tubulars.

Campagnolo’s involvement continues with a carbon fibre Record seatpost which supports a white fi’zi:k Arione CX saddle.  The contact points at the front end are provided by FSA, including a 140mm OS-115 stem clamping a pair of traditional-bend Energy bars in place.  As is commonplace among the top pros, both the stem and bars are aluminium rather than carbon fibre. 

During the SuperSix launch last year a Dutch journalist asked Pozzato why it was that so many Italian riders had to have their own special designs on their helmets shoes and frames, instead of the stock team issue that the rest of their team rode.  Pippo’s reply was short and to the point: “Because we are Italian and we have style.” 

There’s no arguing with that really, is there?

Complete bicycle specifications   

  • Frame: Cannondale SuperSix, 58cm
  • Fork: Cannondale SuperSix
  • Headset: FSA SuperSix Si
  • Stem: FSA OS-115, 140mm x -10°
  • Handlebars: FSA Energy T, 42cm (c-c)
  • Tape/grips: fi'zi:k bar:tape
  • Front brake: Campagnolo Record D-Skeleton
  • Rear brake: Campagnolo Record D-Skeleton
  • Brake levers: Campagnolo Record Ergopower QS 10s 'Red' team edition
  • Front derailleur: Campagnolo Record 10s
  • Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Record
  • Shift levers: Campagnolo Record Ergopower QS 10s 'Red' team edition
  • Cassette: Campagnolo Record UD 10s steel+titanium, 11-23T
  • Chain: Campagnolo Record Ultra Narrow
  • Crankset: Cannondale Hollowgram Si, 175mm, 53/39T
  • Bottom bracket: Cannondale Hollowgram
  • Pedals: Look KeO Liquigas Edition
  • Wheelset: Fulcrum Racing Speed
  • Front tyre: Vittoria Corsa Evo-CX tubular, 23mm
  • Rear tyre: Vittoria Corsa Evo-CX tubular, 23mm
  • Saddle: fi'zi:k Arione CX
  • Seat post: Campagnolo Record
  • Bottle Cages: Elite Pase Carbon

Critical measurements   

  • Rider's height: 1.83m (6' 0")
  • Rider's weight: 74kg (163lb)
  • Seat tube length, c-c: 545mm
  • Seat tube length, c-t: 580mm
  • Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 815mm
  • Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 639mm
  • C of front wheel to top of bars (next to stem): 570mm
  • Top tube length: 575mm
  • Total bicycle weight: 7.41kg (16.3lb)

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