Race tech: Carbon wheels reign at Tour of Flanders
Ag2r ran 32mm-deep Reynolds carbon tubulars across the board on its Kuota KOM machines for Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Like most teams at Ronde van Vlaanderen, Ag2r swapped its normal carbon fiber cages for studier aluminum ones – in this case Ciussi Gel models from team sponsor Elite.
Ag2r is one of few SRAM-sponsored road teams that pass over the PG-1070 cassette in favor of the lighter Red model, which runs more loudly and is more prone to clogging with debris.
Ag2r is using SRAM Red BB30 cranksets and Red front derailleurs, but with stiffer steel cages instead of the consumer-spec titanium ones for faster shifting.
Ag2r was among the majority of teams at Ronde van Vlaanderen putting at least some of its riders on carbon rims.
Gore Ride-On sealed cables have proven to be extremely popular in the pro peloton for their combination of a silky feel at the lever plus excellent all-weather performance that holds up well to multiple washings.
The French Corima wheels on Astana team bikes use unique carbon fiber and aluminum hubs along with an interesting way of anchoring the J-bend spokes.
Astana’s Corima rear hubs also use aluminum flanges on a carbon fiber body but the driveside spokes are rotated 90 degrees from the norm.
Astana was one of many teams at the 2011 Ronde van Vlaanderen to put its riders on carbon rims.
Astana team bikes are equipped with Specialized’s own S-Works carbon cranks and chainrings.
Astana’s Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 machines get fresh new paint jobs for the 2011 season.
Astana wrapped its Corima carbon rims with 24mm-wide Veloflex Roubaix tubular tires.
BMC team bikes had their Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 batteries affixed to mini-mounts below the down tube.
An SRM power meter is fitted to Marcus Burghardt’s bike of team BMC.
BMC used a mix of carbon and aluminum wheels at Ronde van Vlaanderen but rode their SLR01 Team Machine bikes across the board.
The BMC team wore these decals on their chain stays to draw attention to the disaster relief effort in Japan.
BMC used Shimano’s electronic Dura-Ace Di2 group on their carbon fiber Team Machines.
The carefully shaped carbon fiber tubing in the rear end of BMC’s SLR01 Team Machine provides a noticeable degree of flex and comfort over rough ground.
Marcus Burghardt (BMC) used Easton EC90 SL carbon tubulars during the Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Some BMC riders ran Roubaix-style wheels for Ronde van Vlaanderen. While the rims bore big “Easton” decals, they were obviously from Ambrosio.
Shimano Dura-Ace Di2-equipped BMC SLR01 frames featured internal routing for the wiring harnesses.
No surprises here: Marcus Burghardt’s (BMC) bike is fitted with an aluminum bar and stem for Ronde van Vlaanderen.
A lot of bikes at Ronde van Vlaanderen sported little crib sheets to help keep track of key sections.
Cofidis riders were on Look’s latest 695 model for Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Cofidis riders were mostly on aluminum wheels but Leonardo Duque decided on ultralight Fulcrum RacingLight SLR shallow-section carbon tubulars instead.
Look’s ‘BB65’ bottom bracket shell houses an enormous 50mm carbon fiber spindle.
The stunning crank on Cofidis’s Look 695 is molded as a single unit from one end of the arm to the other – including the bottom bracket spindle.
The Look E-Post on Cofidis team bikes is not only impervious to slipping but also lends some vibration damping courtesy of the elastomer inserts in between the mast head and frame.
Vittoria’s 24mm-wide Pave Evo-CG are very popular with teams during the spring classics.
Cofidis’s massive carbon fiber integrated stems on their team-issue Look 695s were the exception to the aluminum stem norm.
Cofidis fitted team bikes with Rotor chain watchers but the logos were sanded off so as not to offend official team sponsors.
Euskaltel-Euskadi team mechanics added some electrical tape to the riders’ Elite carbon fiber cages to lend a better grip on the bottles.
The Euskaltel-Euskadi team doesn’t even try to hide these FSA ceramic bottom brackets on their otherwise Shimano-equipped bikes.
Euskaltel-Euskadi riders used Orbea’s latest Orca during the Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Interestingly, Euskaltel-Euskadi used Shimano’s standard Dura-Ace group in De Ronde instead of their more usual Di2 electronic transmissions.
Euskaltel-Euskadi went the conservative route for its Ronde van Vlaanderen wheels, opting for Roubaix-style aluminum box-section rims laced to standard Shimano Dura-Ace hubs.
Euskaltel-Euskadi removed the decals from this aluminum box-section rim but it looks like a Mavic Reflex to us.
Euskaltel-Euskadi may have gone conservative on wheels but carbon fiber saddle rails are apparently just fine.
Slick-treaded tires may theoretically offer better traction under ideal conditions but riders at Ronde van Vlaanderen generally prefer a bit of tread for the cobbles.
Europcar’s new Colnago C59 lugged carbon fiber bikes look great in white and green.
Europcar is using Campagnolo Super Record groups on their Colnago C59s.
French national champion Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) gets to ride this specially painted Colnago C59.
The mostly carbon fiber construction on Europcar’s Campagnolo Super Record rear derailleurs are a stark visual contrast from the old polished aluminum designs.
This Lampre-ISD rider gets double-wrapped bars to help take the sting out of the cobbles.
Lampre-ISD’s team bikes comprised a near-even mix of integrated and non-integrated versions of Wilier’s Cento 1 Superleggeras.
Lampre-ISD team mechanics wrapped each Campagnolo Ergopower lever with a small rubber band – presumably to prevent rattling on the cobbles.
Ambrosio’s Nemesis rim makes yet another appearance at a cobbled classic, here on the Wilier Cento 1 of the Lampre-ISD team.
Lampre-ISD riders used a mix of wheels – including these Campagnolo Neutron aluminum tubulars – but all were wrapped with 24mm-wide Vittoria tires.
The Selle San Marco saddle on this Lampre-ISD machine bears no model identification – perhaps because it’s not currently in the company catalog.
Aluminum bars are clamped in an aluminum stem (albeit with a carbon faceplate) on the Lampre-ISD team bikes.
Chain watchers have become virtually standard equipment as seen on this Lampre-ISD bike.
Rabobank brought their familiar Giant TCR Advanced SL machines to Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Rabobank used a mix of mechanical and electronic Shimano Dura-Ace groups in this year’s race.
The Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wiring harness is run internally on Rabobank’s Giant TCR Advanced SL machines.
Rabobank went for 25mm-wide Corsa Evo CX tires while most other Vittoria-sponsored teams opted for 24mm Paves.
Surprise, surprise – more Ambrosio Nemesis box-section aluminum tubular rims at a cobbled race, this time on a Rabobank team bike.
fi’zi:k coats the carbon fiber shell of the k:1 with a layer of shock absorbing elastomer but even so, we’re still slightly surprised to see this on a Ronde van Vlaanderen bike. Perhaps even more impressive is that not just one Rabobank rider was using it, either.
See any glue peeking out on this Rabobank rim? We sure don’t. Kudos to the team mechanic who mounted these.
This RadioShack bike was fitted with aluminum bars and a molded carbon fiber stem for Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Even though RadioShack’s Trek Madones use internally routed cables – meaning they’re already well shielded from the elements – team mechanics still use fully sealed SRAM Professional System cables from Gore Ride-On.
RadioShack riders used a mix of SRAM cranksets at Ronde van Vlaanderen including both power meter equipped and standard models.
RadioShack took the conservative approach to wheels at Ronde van Vlaanderen with aluminum box-section tubular rims and traditional stainless steel spokes and nipples.
Just one Vacansoleil-DCM rider went with carbon wheels at the 2011 Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Team Veranda’s Willems – Accent is sponsored by Belgian bike company Zannata.
Whether by virtue of the surprisingly dry conditions, improving technology, or changing rider and team attitudes – perhaps all three – the
2011 Tour of Flanders saw more riders starting and finishing on carbon wheels than we’ve noticed in years past.
By our count, roughly three-quarters of the 25 participating teams put at least a few (and in some cases all) of its riders on composite hoops – and notably, Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-Sungard) won the event using Zipp 303s.
Bontrager looks to have made a successful cobbled debut for its new 50mm-deep wheels and Corima’s carbon wheels made an appearance underneath the Astana riders. Mavic had a carbon-infused field as well including its still-as-yet-unofficial 40mm-deep M40 carbon tubulars, R-Sys shallow-section wheels with hollow carbon spokes, and Cosmic Carbone SLRs with their aluminum rims and carbon fairings (primary M40 tester Thor Hushovd notably used these instead). Not surprisingly, Zipp-sponsored teams opted for the company’s now well proven 303 carbon tubulars across the board after their impressive showing at last year’s Paris-Roubaix.
Euskaltel-Euskadi riders used orbea’s latest orca during the ronde van vlaanderen.:
Euskaltel-Euskadi riders used Orbea’s latest Orca during the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Note the box section wheels.
In all fairness, most of those wheels were still wrapped in wider-than-usual tubular tires measuring 25mm and up, and there was still the rash of Roubaix-style aluminum Ambrosio and Mavic box-section rims with tied-and-soldered steel spokes used by more traditionally minded teams such as Quick Step and Vacansoleil-DCM. A smaller contingent opted for softer riding frames, too, and a handful of riders even used ‘cross bikes.
In addition, some bars were also double-wrapped for additional cushioning and most teams had heavier-duty cages fitted to prevent bottle ejection while streaking across the pavé (though we still saw plenty of bottles on the ground).
For the most part, though, it was business as usual for one of the most exciting editions of the Tour of Flanders in recent memory.