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Bayern Rundfahrt
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91st Tour de France - July 3-25, 2004

June 12, 2004

Lance Armstrong's Trek Madone SSL proto

Photo ©: Tim Maloney/Cyclingnews

Outer space technology helps Armstrong fly

It's not about the bike - but when you have a Tour de France to win, it doesn't hurt to have a development team working to come up with the best possible machines. At the Mont Ventoux stage of the Dauphine, Lance Armstrong used a new version of the Trek Madone, as Tim Maloney reports.

Clean lines
Photo ©: Cyclingnews

As Lance Armstrong left the start house to race up le Mont Ventoux, he was riding a new Trek prototype frame, dubbed the Madone SSL by the development team. The new frame is yet another fruit of the "Formula One" equipment effort of Armstrong's key technical sponsors, Trek, Nike, Giro, Oakley and Shimano, whom Armstrong gathered together last year to cooperate on providing him with the technology for the fastest time trial equipment anywhere.

Reminiscent of kilo track bars
Photo ©: Cyclingnews

Before the Mont Ventoux stage of the Dauphine' Libere', Trek's Scott Daubert told Cyclingnews, "Lance's new bike evolved from the bike you saw in Murcia last March. That bike, the Madone SL will likely be part of Trek's line for 2005 and available to the public alongside the existing Madone. The SL uses round tubes in the place of the aerodynamic tubes on the current Madone. With this new bike, we've taken weight out of the frame so we're right on the UCI limit [6.8kg-14.96lbs] and we've used a new type of carbon fibre."

Bontrager carbon rear hub
Photo ©: Cyclingnews

Trek's people were initially cautious about discussing the proto, as a bike that's still in development won't necessarily make it to the shops. Daubert explained, "this new Trek Madone SSL is potentially something that consumers could buy down the road; that's why Trek makes bikes! But at this point, the Madone SSL still a prototype and there are no plans whatsoever to market it. But so far, Lance seems happy with his new bike. He's come back to us in testing and said 'this bike is really solid'. When your take weight away from a frame, you run the risk of it becoming less rigid. Lance watches his power output numbers from SRM training really carefully and we were initially cautious but now he likes this Trek SSL Madone proto."

Just one bottle
Photo ©: Cyclingnews

For the challenge of a super light yet strong uphill TT and climbing bike, Trek found a way to bring its OCLV frame technology to a new level by using a carbon fibre material usually used for space satellite construction: 55 gsm OCLV. This material uses a carbon fibre lay-up process that is "far more meticulous and challenging than that we use for any other OCLV frame we build," say Trek's people. And if the stress tests on the Madone SSL showed that OCLV 55 wasn't the optimum material, Trek used OCLV 110 to enhance durability.

Speaking of the technology challenges to create the Madone SSL, Trek OCLV engineer Jim Colgrove told Cyclingews, "The biggest challenge with the Madone SSL wasn't making the bike lighter, but that it rode the same as the Madone Lance is already riding. The OCLV 55 building process is more critical, since each part requires more pieces of OCLV material and we need multiple ply drop-offs to ensure that we don't have stress risers in the parts."

The complete special edition Bontrager front wheel
Photo ©: Cyclingnews

For the Ventoux TT, Armstrong also had a set of Bontrager Triple X Racelite tubular wheels, equipped with superlight carbon fibre rims made with the 55 gsm OCLV material. Daubert explained, "we used this material in these one-of-a-kind wheels that come out of the same Bontrager molds as well." Armstrong also used a special clip-on carbon fibre aero bar setup for le Mont Ventoux.

Before his first race on the new frame in St. Etienne, Armstrong had one word for this new rig: "Light" and in his post race conference after the Mont Ventoux, his comment was "the bike was good." Enough said.


Images by Tim Maloney/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame & Fork: Trek Madone SSL protoype
Colour: Lance Special Request Team Issue

Cranks: Shimano Dura-Ace 10 speed 175mm, 53X39
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace

Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace
Levers: Shimano Dura-Ace

: Bontrager Triple X Racelite Prototypes
Tyres: Hutchinson Tubulars 19mm

Stem: Deda elementi Newton 110mm
Bars: Deda elementi Newton
Headset: Chris King
Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace SL

Saddle: Selle San Marco Concor Light
Seatpost: Shimano Dura-Ace