No matter who finally wins yellow at this year's Tour there is no doubt that the fans' new favourite is the man in the spotted jersey, Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandez of Team Barloworld. Soler certainly has his own style, yo-yoing up the climbs of the Pyrenees, but it's effective and even before Rasmussen was booted out Soler had bagged the polka dot king of the mountains jersey.
Not only did he get the jersey but he also won stage 9, attacking on the way up Galibier and winning through to Briançon. He was also the first person to win a stage on Mavic's new R-Sys and Cosmic Carbone Ultimate wheelset. What makes the Colombian's bike even more interesting is that he chooses to use a mix of wheels, namely a Cosmic Carbone Ultimate on the rear and the new R-Sys on the front.
Our take on this set up is that the Carbone Ultimate on the back of Soler's bike is used to deliver light weight stiffness and ensures all the power is going where it needs to. No bad thing when you consider the man's rather enthusiastic style.
At the front the stiffness isn't as important, when powering up a climb weight becomes the governing factor. Soler's front R-Sys wheel really comes into its own on the descents. Any good rider will always slow down using the front brake and the alloy rim of the R-Sys is more reliable under prolonged braking than a carbon rim. The R-Sys also provides Soler with steering precision into the corners. It's an interesting combination for a mountain stage but one that obviously works and illustrates just why stiffness and light weight becomes such and important factor in the hills.
Mavic Carbone Ultimate
We also spotted David Millar riding the new Carbone wheels aboard his custom painted Scott Addict
Mavic claim the all carbon Cosmic Carbone Ultimate is the stiffest wheel on the market. They feature a 40mm deep rim profile with an ultra light foam core. Moulded spokes are fixed directly onto to the rim and carbon hub body. This no only creates a stiff wheel but the lack of hub drillings and spoke nipples combined with the rim makes them incredibly aerodynamic. 1185g for the pair.
It's Carbone Ultimates for Millar, R-Sys wheels for Iban Mayo
They certainly look the part but do they deliver? Mavic say the RSys is 30% stiffer than the current Ksyrium ES. The eye catching carbon spokes on gold coloured alloy nipples also weight less (5g) and increase lateral stiffness because the carbon doesn't stretch or compress as much as steel or aluminium. The total weight for a set of clincher rims is 1,355g. The tubular versions favoured by the pros are another 25g lighter still.