Colnago’s new CX-1 frame has only just been announced to the world but it has already found its way into the ProTour peloton under Rabobank super-domestique Grischa Niermann, who has elected to ride the new frame in place of his previous Extreme-C.
Despite not having a great list of victories to his name, Niermann is one of those rare riders who always finds his contract renewed at the end of each year thanks to the consistently hard effort he puts forth in support of his more illustrious teammates.
"Niermann has been with the team for so long,” said team manager Erik Breukink at the 32-year-old German’s latest contract signing. “We all know that he is a very solid helper.”
Since signing with Rabobank in 1999 – making him one of the team veterans – Niermann has ridden in all but two Tours de France, only missing out in 2005 and 2006. The fact he managed to wrest his place back in last year’s Tour team was certainly no thanks to the motorcycle that brought him – and half the peloton – down in stage 1 of Tirreno-Adriatico, breaking his ankle and severely curtailing his spring campaign. Thankfully, he has managed to remain injury free in 2008 and rode the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré this month in preparation for another three weeks in the service of his team leaders.
In contrast to the tube-and-lug construction of the Extreme Power and Extreme-C, the CX-1 employs modular monocoque construction whereas the front triangle, chain stay assembly and seat stay assembly are each moulded separately and then bonded together. The multifaceted main tubes have completely flat upper and lower sides and the CX-1 also marks the first time Colnago has used a semi-integrated headset.
According to Colnago, the CX-1 is not only its lightest frame to date but also noticeably stiffer than its more expensive Extreme Power and Extreme-C cousins. However, one distinct disadvantage of the CX-1’s modular monocoque construction is that it cannot be made to measure for individual riders as they often are at this level.
Despite this off the peg sizing, Niermann told Cyclingnews that he was very happy with his new frame’s added stiffness over his previous Extreme-C frame. However, Niermann forgoes the CX-1’s matching semi-integrated fork in favour of the lighter Carbon 75 fork from his Extreme-C.
In addition to being one of the first to ride the new CX-1, Niermann is also among a select group of Shimano-sponsored riders to use a number of their pre-production components. Rather than the Dura-Ace 7800 that most of the rest of his team – and us mere mortals – use, Niermann’s frame is built up with the prototype 7900 groupset with the exception of Dura-Ace 7800 crankarms. So far, the feedback from Niermann has been very positive and he hasn’t missed those now-hidden derailleur cables which used to provide a handy pseudo-aero hand position.
More prototype equipment is found in Neirmann’s wheels, a new version of Shimano’s carbon fibre Dura-Ace 7850-C24. As reported earlier this month, the front rim depth has been reduced slightly to comply with UCI regulations. Team tyre sponsor Vittoria wraps those wheels with the top of the range Corsa EVO-CX tubulars.
Shimano sponsors the Rabobank team lock, stock and barrel, and so the rest of the finishing kit on Niermann’s bike is – where possible – either from the Japanese company or its subsidiaries. The PLT seatpost, PLT stem and Vibe 7S bars all come from Shimano’s PRO component line and the pedals are the current top of the range Dura-Ace SPD-SL PD-7810. Niermann also uses Shimano R300 shoes with their super stiff soles and heat mouldable uppers.
The other contact points of the bike are sorted by Prologo in the form of the increasingly popular Scratch TR saddle – which has taken the peloton by storm – and Pro Touch bar tape. Team bottles are supplied by Tacx but, surprisingly, are held on to Niermann’s bike with Custom Carbon cages by Elite. The German keeps an eye on the bike’s speed - as well as his own - with a Polar S725X, which combines heart rate monitor and bike computer functions.
After serving team leader and rising Dutch star Robert Gesink, Niermann finished the Dauphiné Libéré in a highly respectable 53rd position, just 37:12 behind winner Alejandro Valverde. Assuming he stays clear of illness and injury, the German will be lining up in Brest at the start of the Tour de France on his Colnago CX-1, looking to perform a similar role for Russian Denis Menchov, picked by pundits as a GC favourite.