Gent-Wevelgem's old mid-week position has now been taken over by the Scheldeprijs, a Belgian semi-classic in its 98th running. Though the Scheldeprijs is held on comparatively smooth tarmac throughout its 205.4km (127.6-mile) route, some teams took it as one last opportunity to finalise equipment setups with just four days remaining before Paris-Roubaix.
Riders such as BBox-Bouygues Telecom's William Bonnet even opted to run their full Roubaix configuration (save for wheels). While most of his team-mates set off from Antwerp aboard their usual Colnago CX-1 road machines, Bonnet departed on his Cross Prestige cyclo-cross rig, complete with TRP EuroX Carbon cantilever brakes, top-mounted brake levers and massive tyre clearance when fitted with his Campagnolo Bora Ultra deep-section carbon tubulars.
BMC's Michael Schär looked to be on his usual road machine but upon closer inspection it wasn't a BMC SLX01 Racemaster as it was painted to appear. Schär needed a custom frame when he was racing for Astana last year on account of his 6ft 5in (1.96m) height and BMC have provided the same benefit for him this season.
Schär's bike turned out to be a full-aluminium construct but with elaborately shaped tubes that closely mimicked those of the SLX01 (impressively so, in fact) save for the round seat tube and standard Easton aluminium seatpost. In addition, the front end bore a tapered head tube designed to accommodate the company's top-end SLR01 fork.
Likewise, Garmin-Transitions sprinter Tyler Farrar stuck with his tried-and-true Felt F1, complete with a complete Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 mechanical group and Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLR aero wheels. Farrar's wheels weren't entirely stock, however, as they were a tubular variety that Mavic have yet to release to the public.
Sunday's far more brutal Paris-Roubaix is likely to bring with it a wholesale overhaul of equipment – say goodbye to the narrow tubular tyres, paper-thin bar tape and mega-deep wheels and bring on the monster machines. Stay tuned as we continue to cover the latest tech from the spring classics.