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Bikes of the Tour: Patxi Vila's Lampre-Fondital Wilier Cento, July 20, 2006

Anthony Tan finds another new bike getting one of its earliest racing outings at the Tour de France

Unseen creature

Patxi Vila's Wilier Cento
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The squared off head tube
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Fulcrum deep rim wheels
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The oversized downtube.
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The bottom bracket cluster.
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The seat-tube cluster.
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Oversized rear stays.
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Replaceable aluminium drop-outs.
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At the start of the ninth stage of the Tour de France in Bordeaux, one rider from Lampre-Fondital found an as-yet-unseen creature leaning against his team car.

The rider was Paxti Villa, and on closer examination, the creature turned out to be Wilier's new Cento.

The Cento, which means 100 in Italian, will be the flagship frame in Wilier's 2007 product catalogue, and was specially made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the brand from Rossano Veneto, Italy. Cyclingnews first laid eyes on this anniversary masterpiece a month ago at the company's centenary celebrations, but the Tour de France marks one of the first occasions the Cento has been put to use.

With a claimed average frame weight of 880 grams, the Cento is an ultralight monocoque carbon fibre frame. A patented technique allows precise control in varying each tube's wall thickness, with two main types of unidirectional carbon fibres used in its construction, namely T60 and T30.

Fi'zi:k's Aliante saddle.
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T60 is a very high modulus type of carbon and extremely rigid, whereas T30 is slightly heavier but slightly more stress resistant; combining the two achieves the optimal balance between achieving weight light and maximum stiffness in crucial areas, including the bottom bracket and head tube.

In fact, Wilier claims the Cento to be unprecedented in its resistance to stress - although we're yet to see any numbers published to compare it against other models or brands. The squared off profile of the head tube, also seen in the front fork, has been designed to provide the Cento with an excellent resistance to road vibration, facilitating a rider's trajectory when descending or cornering.

The Cento's chainstays are constructed with a special high-pressure carbon fibre, again designed to minimise road shock. The only aluminium parts on the Cento are in the bottom bracket threading and the headset cups.

At 30 years of age, Vila is in his professional prime. This year, he won the queen stage of Paris-Nice, beating none other than Floyd Landis before finishing second overall, and backed up his early season success in May with a top ten overall finish at the Giro d'Italia. After stage 14, the amiable Spaniard was 34th on general classification, 19 minutes behind the maillot jaune of Oscar Pereiro.

Well, Patxi, the only way is up!


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Images by Anthony Tan/Cyclingnews