For this year's Paris-Roubaix, Thor Hushovd, Crédit Agricole’s Norwegian strongman, chose a relatively stock Look 585 Origin. However, at Paris-Roubaix, nothing is entirely stock, as a close look at Hushovd's bike reveals.
The morning of the 2008 Paris-Roubaix brought surprisingly pleasant conditions and so the specially dedicated mud machines often used for the Hell of the North weren’t entirely necessary.
Even so, Thor Hushovd set off from Compiègne aboard a Look 585 Origin instead of his usual 595.
According to head mechanic Pascal Ridel, the swap wasn’t made for any durability or strength reasons; it was strictly a question of comfort. “It’s a little smoother than the 595,” he said.
Ridel added that Hushovd’s 585 Origin was no one-off and a quick inspection seemed to support that assertion. There was no additional tire clearance at either end nor any obvious geometry adjustments (although any extra fiber plies for added stiffness would have been well camouflaged).
Similarly, ost of the components bore little change from his standard race setup which included Shimano Dura-Ace controls, cranks, derailleurs, cassette and chain, plus his team-issued Look KéO Carbon pedals.
Even so, the wheels, tires and gearing displayed the typical Paris-Roubaix trademarks.
Hushovd swapped his usual deep-section carbon tubulars for more conventional wheels built with standard Dura-Ace hubs, straight-gauge stainless steel spokes and brass nipples laced in a traditional three-cross pattern to unmarked aluminum box-section tubular rims which Ridel said were now in their fifth year of service.
The Continental Pro Limited Competition ProTection tubulars were similarly conservative with their wider 25mm casing and extra sidewall reinforcement.
Gearing was decidedly appropriate for the flat course profile: an aggressive 11-23T cluster out back matched with 53/46T chainrings. According to Ridel, the tight chainring sizing also eliminated any need to run a chain watcher.
That might seem a bit unusual, but we have little reason to question the seasoned wrench. Ridel has been with the team through its various incarnations for roughly 20 years and the 2008 Paris-Roubaix astoundingly marked his fifteenth running of the Hell of the North. This experience played out in the team’s support strategy for the day.
Ridel estimated the day before the start that team mechanics would be placed at 10-12 places along the course with bikes and/or wheels to ensure that their leader wasn’t caught out if a team car or neutral support vehicle was too far away to help.
In total, Hushovd was prepared with five complete bikes, including one backup that was a complete carbon copy of his primary machine.
Sadly, that plan ended up being somewhat for naught after Hushovd abandoned abandoned the race at the first feed zone after reportedly suffering a nasty crash early on. Crédit Agricole’s highest placed rider was Jimmy Engoulvent in 38th place, 11:46 down from Tom Boonen (Quick Step). Even so, Hushovd will be back on track soon enough and the season has only just begun.