Rock Racing enjoyed a bit of a respite from the latest controversy surrounding the team’s long-term viability with a well-earned victory in stage 1 of the Tour of California by Francisco Mancebo. The Spaniard made a lone breakaway from the peloton after just 5km – leaving a foreboding 167km to the finish in Santa Rosa – yet still had enough energy remaining at the end to outsprint Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Jurgen Van Der Waale (Quick Step) just 500m from the finish.
Making the win even more impressive is the fact that the team had supposedly only received their race bikes from new sponsor Kestrel just before the race started so Mancebo had little time to get acquainted.
Mancebo’s new Kestrel RT 800 road machine comprises a decidedly unusual mix of curves, angles and creases that stand in stark contrast to the smooth and highly organic shapes that once defined the brand. The moderately oversized, slightly sloping top tube and nominally aero-shaped down tube appear to completely envelop the ends of the head tube while the seat tube sports a deep cross-section and modest rear wheel cutout. Kestrel fits consumer versions with a matching aero-shaped carbon post, too, though the team has opted for the round seatpost option here.
The top tube and down tube meld smoothly into the head tube, which uses a standard 1 1/8" steerer
The multi-shape top tube arcs into the curved seat stays out back, which then meet the chain stays at a pair of sculpted aluminum dropouts. All throughout, visible bond joints illustrate the modular monocoque construction and Kestrel’s own EMS fork is fitted up front, but with an alloy 1 1/8” steerer instead of the stock carbon tube.
Though perhaps not the tidiest-looking frame on the circuit, at least the team’s primary bikes wore a proper paint job instead of the spares’ hodge-podge graffiti scheme.
Rock Racing has also switched its component sponsor this year from Campagnolo to Shimano. In addition to the complete Dura-Ace 7900 group, Shimano has also fitted the team with a variety of wheels as well as bits from its PRO division.
Mancebo's bike came in with a Dura-Ace carbon tubular rear wheel…
Mancebo crossed the line in Santa Rosa with a 50mm-deep Dura-Ace carbon tubular rear wheel mated to a 24mm-deep carbon-aluminum Dura-Ace clincher up front. Yet this odd pairing was not the result of a puncture on the road. Stage 1’s bitter, wet cold and gusty winds had many riders reaching for shallow-section front wheels for a modicum of control and in Rock Racing’s case, these may have been the only ones on hand.
In terms of cockpit components, Mancebo is in the minority what with his carbon fibre seatpost, stem and anatomic handlebar. Registering speed and distance for the day – and little else – is a surprisingly basic Cateye Velo 5 computer.
PRO provides Rock Racing with cockpit components including the Vibe carbon bar and handlebar
Total weight for Mancebo’s RT 800 that day was a reasonable 7.52kg (16.6lb). Though a bit heavier than the UCI-mandated 6.8kg minimum, that extra mass apparently had little effect on what ended up being a golden ride regardless. Chapeau!