Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com team-mates Tim Johnson, Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll put on a virtual clinic during a weekend's races in and around Boulder, Colorado, with dual podium sweeps in dramatically varied conditions.
Aside from the athletic achievement, the trio's success demonstrates that aluminium is still the dominant frame material in US 'cross racing.
All three machines are built around Cannondale's top-end CAAD9 BB30 Cyclocross frame with its heavily swaged, butted and shaped aluminium tubing, the company's trademark BB30-compatible bottom bracket shell, and smooth welds throughout for a clean appearance and light 1.5kg (3.3lb) weight.
A dramatically flared 'Power Pyramid' down tube and medium-sized chain- and seatstays (the latter using a stout wishbone-style yoke) suggest good front triangle and drivetrain rigidity, while the straight 1 1/8in head tube maintains some cush up front.
Indeed, there's nary a scrap of carbon to be found in the frame – aside from the Easton EC90X all-carbon fork – no tapered head tube, no integrated seatmast and no radical shaping, as is often found on expensive carbon rigs.
The business-like chassis is augmented by a wealth of top-range componentry used by all three team-mates, including a complete SRAM Red transmission and drivetrain (apart from the more 'cross-friendly PG-1070 cassette), Zipp's latest wide-profile 303 carbon tubulars, supple Dugast tubular tyres, Control Tech cockpit components and Fizik's popular Aliante saddle.
Brakes and pedals differ slightly between the three riders, with Johnson and Driscoll preferring narrow-profile TRP CR950 carbon brakes and Shimano XTR pedals, and Powers opting for lighter TRP EuroX Mag wide-profile cantilevers and CrankBrothers Candy 4ti pedals (in matching green, of course).
In full race-ready trim, Powers' bike weighs a highly competitive 7.39kg (16.29lb) but it's not the bike's stiffness, weight or fancy componentry that make it special. Instead, it's the meticulous attention to detail that Cyclocrossworld.com proprietor – and team mechanic – Stu Thorne puts into each machine.
To say that the team bikes were clean and tuned would be a gross understatement; to say that they were obsessively polished, impeccably adjusted and utterly perfect in every way would be a bit more accurate but still not representative of the level of fastidiousness.
Tyre sidewalls were neatly coated in Aquaseal latex sealant, brake housing ferrules were bored out for reduced drag, and even the stainless front brake hanger noodles were custom fabricated for a cleaner cable path, adding up to some of the smoothest and lightest-feeling 'cross bikes we've encountered.
Toss in the sealed Gore Professional derailleur cable set and it added up to a weekend of mechanical-free racing in some decidedly ugly conditions (at least on Saturday) and three dominating performances as icing on the cake.
Whatever amount of carbon flare these machines lacked was more than made up by this weekend's performances, and few can debate their ability to efficiently – and effectively – get the job done.
- Frame: Cannondale CAAD9 BB30 Cyclocross
- Fork: Easton EC90X
- Headset: Cane Creek integrated
- Stem: Control Tech Scored 99, 10cm x -5°
- Handlebars: Control Tech Viento CL, 42cm
- Tape/grips: Fizik bar:tape
- Front brake: TRP EuroX Magnesium w/ SwissStop Yellow King pads
- Rear brake: TRP EuroX Magnesium w/ SwissStop Yellow King pads
- Brake levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap
- Front derailleur: SRAM Red w/ Force cage
- Rear derailleur: SRAM Red
- Shift levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap
- Cassette: SRAM PG-1070, 11-26T
- Chain: SRAM PC-1090R
- Crankset: SRAM Red BB30, 175mm, 38/46T
- Bottom bracket: SRAM Red BB30
- Pedals: CrankBrothers Candy 4ti
- Wheelset: Zipp 303 tubular
- Front tyre: Dugast Rhino tubular, 32mm
- Rear tyre: Dugast Rhino tubular, 32mm
- Saddle: Fizik Aliante Carbon Twin Flex
- Seatpost: Control Tech
- Accessories: Aquaseal sidewall sealant, Gore Professional derailleur cable set
- Rider's height: 1.8m (5ft 11in)
- Rider's weight: 68kg (150lb)
- Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 725mm
- Saddle setback: 60mm
- Seat tube length, c-t: 550mm
- Seat tube length, c-c: 503mm
- Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 522mm
- Saddle to bar drop: 60mm
- Head tube length: 150mm
- Top tube length: 540mm
- Total bicycle weight: 7.39kg (16.29lb)