Floyd Landis returned to cycling this season after serving a two year ban for doping. Now riding for the OUCH team, his sights are set on US races and the Tour of California rather than the Tour de France. Landis is sure to put in some massive efforts as the race winds its way to the finish in Escondido and appears to be on an appropriate machine for the job in the Kuota Kredo Ultra.
Kuota has earned a reputation for using enormously oversized tube sections for extra frame rigidity and the Kredo Ultra's overgrown proportions look to provide a stout platform for putting down the power. The front triangle is particularly massive, starting with a bottom bracket area that comes up nearly level with the large chainring. Integrated BB30 bearings allow for a larger-diameter bottom bracket spindle than usual, too, while also offering a generous amount of ankle clearance.
Kuota was an early adopter of tapered steerer tubes and its latest Kredo Ultra is suitably equipped. Though not quite as massive as some, the 1 1/8" carbon steerer still flares out to a healthy 1 1/4" at the crown and combine with the relatively deep fork blades for more precise steering and surer braking. The broad top tube also works to combat unwanted torsional flex but Kuota has at least given it a shallow vertical profile and a slight bow for some rider comfort.
A seriously massive bottom bracket area
The theme continues with large-diameter asymmetrical chain stays: while the driveside stay is relatively tall to resist upward movement and narrow for clearance, the non-driveside is substantially broader to keep twist in check. As was the case with the top tube, the seat stays are relatively slender for a smoother ride. In spite of the generous amount of surface area, thin tube walls keep the claimed weight to around 1100g.
Unlike most top European teams, OUCH's title sponsorship from Maxxis limits it to clincher tires. Thankfully, casing and rubber compound technology has vastly improved in recent years such that the performance differential in most situations is modest - if at all - and some studies actually suggest they can offer lower rolling resistance than tubulars since they tend to be more round.
The performance gap is also minimized by the matching Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLR wheels whose 52mm section depth and bladed unidirectional carbon spokes provide good all-around aerodynamic performance. On the wet first stage into Santa Rosa, Landis likely appreciated the more confident braking in the aluminum rim, too. Carbon tubulars still hold a firm upper hand in terms of weight, as the clincher setup still gives up at least 500g in comparison.
Total weight for Landis' bike is a very good - but not great by pro standards- 7.36kg (16.2lb) in light of the otherwise premium build.
SRAM Red Doubletap levers are fitted to Ritchey WCS Logic II bars
SRAM provides Landis with a complete Red group, including its latest BB30 crankset with a stiffer 'SPR'-edition outer chainring and updated PC-1090R chain with stronger pins and extra grease. Ritchey handles the cockpit components with its WCS aluminum bar, stem and 1-Bolt seatpost - all in gloss white - while fi'zi:k takes care of the contact points with its Arione Wing Flex saddle and grippy black tape.
As is the case with a whopping seven other teams in this year's race, OUCH team bikes are fitted with Speedplay Zero pedals and Arundel provides coloured-to-match carbon bottle cages.
Landis has already started this year's race on a bit of a sour note after apparently crashing the day before the start of the race and posting a 20-second deficit on the short 3.9km (2.4mi) prologue. Thankfully for him (or not, depending on your perspective), there are still about 1200km (750mi) to go and Landis will have ample opportunity to try and spoil the Astana party. Allez, allez!