Green jersey favourite Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) is off to a great start in this year's Tour de France with only two stages down and one win already under his belt.
Stage two concluded with a tough uphill finish into the town of Saint Brieuc and Hushovd launched himself with 200 meters to go, holding off top sprinters Kim Kirchen and Gerald Ciolek (Team Columbia) to win.
Hushovd surged to the line aboard Look's top-end 595 Pro Team which, despite its slender appearance, is apparently strong enough to cope with the huge levels of stress put through it by the Norwegian strongman. Unlike most of its competitors who use modular monocoque construction, Look prefers a more traditional tube-and-lug method to join the very high modulus carbon tubes to the forged high modulus carbon lugs along with carbon nanotube-enhanced resins for better carbon layer adhesion and improved durability.
The main tubes are shaped and curved to cope with the different stresses they are put under: the top tube is very flat and wide for lateral stiffness but also slightly curved for a little vertical flex, while the down tube and seat tube become flared and rectangular as they get closer to the bottom bracket for better drivetrain rigidity.
In addition, the bottom bracket lug provides an oversized bonding point for the relatively slender chain stays which start out rectangular, turn triangular where they pass the spokes, then finish oval at the compressed carbon dropouts. The wishbone-style seat stays are similarly delicate looking - although not so much as some.
Hushovd's frame isn't just stiff, though; it's also quite light with a claimed weight of just 1040g for a small-sized version. This by no means makes the 595 the lightest in the peloton, but it's hardly a heavyweight either - Hushovd's size large will be a little heavier than this of course, but not by all that much.
The 595 employs an integrated seatmast design as with many frames in the peloton, but in this case it's topped with Look's unique E-post. The E-Post gets inserted into the frame - instead of clamped around it - and is also partially isolated from road shock with vibration-damping elastomer inserts; Hushovd prefers the medium density red ones.
At the front end of the bike, Look's own full-carbon HSC6 fork fits into the tapered head tube. As is becoming increasingly common, the steerer tube widens from 1 1/8" at the clamp to 1 1/4" at the crown for increased stiffness. The Head Fit system borrowed from Look's new 586 drops about 40g and also allows stem repositioning without affecting the headset adjustment.
The new 7900 chainset
Hushovd received a significant componentry upgrade this year in Shimano's new Dura-Ace 7900 groupset which sheds about 180g and promises better shifting robustness courtesy of a new cable pull ratio. The STI Dual Control levers have a more ergonomic shape with concealed shifter cables, the new crankset is claimed to be both lighter and stiffer than previous iterations, and brake power and modulation are apparently improved with the new hollowed-out design. One of the most striking features, though, is the new two-tone gunmetal-and-polished finish.
Most of the rest of Hushovd's set-up - like the bikes of many Shimano sponsored teams - is built with components from the Japanese company or its subsidiaries. The light, fast and stiff Dura-Ace 7850-C50 wheels use 50mm-deep carbon tubular rims to keep Hushovd pointing in the direction of the finish line when he turns on his afterburners. Rubber comes from Continental in the form of a pair of matching 22mm Competition Pro Limited Allround tubulars.
Thor's stem bears his own name, although it's made by PRO
As a big star of the peloton, Thor Hushovd has his own range of monogrammed components which includes a matching Vibe 7S bar and stem set from PRO. Being a big six-footer, he needs a 140mm version of the stem to hold the 44cm-wide bars in position. Wrapping those bars is Bike Ribbon tape in brilliant white to match the rest of the bike and the Team Edition Flite saddle from Selle Italia.
Completing the bike is a pair of Tacx Tao Carbon bottle cages. Hushovd has no computer on his bars as the only indicator of speed he needs is whether he's going faster than everybody else!
With no prologue - which he won in 2006 - and no time bonuses it's unlikely that he'll see yellow this year but he'll likely see green at some point or other in the next few weeks. If all goes according to plan, though, the only time it will really matter to him is on the last day after arriving in Paris.
- Frame: Look 595 Pro Team Edition
- Size: Large
- Fork: Look HSC6
- Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7900
- Levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7900
- Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace FD-7900
- Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace RD-7900-SS
- Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7900, 11-23T
- Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7900
- Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace FC-7900, 175mm, 53/39T chainrings
- Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace SM-FC7900
- Wheelset: Shimano Dura-Ace 7850-C50
- Tyres: Continental Competition Pro Limited Allround tubular, 22mm
- Bars: PRO Vibe 7S Round OS Thor Hushovd Series, 44cm (c-c)
- Stem: PRO Vibe 7S OS Road Thor Hushovd Series, 140mm x -10°
- Headset: Integrated with Look Head Fit
- Tape/grip: Bike Ribbon
- Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace PD-7810
- Seat post: Integrated
- Saddle: Selle Italia Flite Team Edition
- Bottle cages: Tacx Tao Carbon
- Total bike weight: 7.15kg (15.76lb)
- Rider's height: 1.83m (6' 0") ; Weight: 81kg (178.5lb)
- Seat tube length, c-c: 540mm
- Seat tube length, c-t: 570mm
- Top tube length: 549mm
- Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 778mm
- Saddle nose tip to C of bars: 599mm
- C of front hub to top of bars: 580mm