Riccò sinks his fangs into the Col d'Aspin
By James Huang in Bagnères-de-Bigorre, France
Cockpit components are
Riccò's nickname is 'the
Cobra' which provided an easy motif
The frame's oversized tubing
Even though he's only 25
The integrated seatmast
saves a handful of grams
This cobra looks ready
Need some extra beef?
Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) may very well have uncorked this
year's Tour de France highlight with an emphatic win in Stage 9. The
Italian climbing specialist was comfortably in the main group with four
kilometres remaining to the summit when he unleashed a scorching attack
that arguably evoked recollections of Lance Armstrong and the late Marco
Pantani. Riccò didn't let up much after that initial surge, either:
he made quick work of the small chase group ahead of him and then continued
to rocket ahead, erasing a near-four-minute gap to lone breakaway leader
Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) in just three kilometes (1.86mi).
By the time he crested the summit, 'the Cobra' had given himself 30s
on Lang plus another minute on the peloton. Fortunately for Riccò, there
wasn't much of a reaction from the main bunch so he managed to hold
nearly all of that lead over them through the remaining 26km-long (16.2mi)
descent and crossed the line as the day's undeniable hero. Time will
tell if the general classification contenders' decision to let him go
will come back to 'bite' them in the end: although Ricco professes to
only seeking stage wins, it shouldn't go unnoticed that only 2'35 now
separates him from the leader's jersey and there's still plenty of climbing
to be done.
Riccò's weapon of choice for his assault on the Aspin was his usual
Scott Addict Limited, only in this case Scott provided the 25-year-old
with a bold custom finish just in time for the Tour. Menacing-looking
cobras adorn the head tube, fork, integrated seat mast and seat tube
in honor of Riccò's nickname and team sponsor fi'zi:k even got in the
game with a custom Arione saddle.
Otherwise, his bike was functionally equivalent to those of his team-mates
although that's no bad thing here as the Addict has proven itself as
one of the highest-performing race bikes we've encountered. Actual weight
on an uncut medium-sized Addict R1 frame is just 880g (1.94lb) with
an uncut seatmast, yet in spite of that paltry figure, it's among the
stiffest-feeling race bikes we've encountered. Moreover, it even manages
to offer a surprisingly refined ride quality that belies its beefy tubing
dimensions (at least on smaller bumps, that is).
Contributing further to the lightweight theme is a nearly complete
SRAM Red group (which continues to rack up victories in spite of its
nascent vintage) and Mavic's superb Cosmic Carbone Ultimate wheels.
Cockpit components are supplied by Ritchey in the form of a WCS 4-Axis
aluminum stem, WCS Classic aluminum bar and 'stubby' seatpost head while
Time's RXS Carbon Ti is Riccò's preferred pedal of choice.
At a claimed weight of under two kilograms for a complete Red group
and sub-1.2 kg for a pair of Cosmic Carbone Ultimates, we're honestly
not entirely sure how the Saunier Duval-Scott mechanics get Riccò's
bike up to the UCI-mandated 6.8kg limit (AFLD is upholding UCI rules
for this year's non UCI-sanctioned Tour). After all, none of the associated
peripheral componentry could be considered to be of even moderately
average weight and Topeak's carbon fiber Shuttle cages aren't exactly
helping matters in that regard.
In fact, our own Addict
R1 test bike was well under that figure at just 6.39kg for a large-sized
frame (Riccò rides a small). Granted, that bike was weighed without
pedals but Riccò's Time units are feather-light, too, and his wheels
are far lighter than the R-SYS clinchers that came stock on our rig.
We may never figure out what sort of mass alchemy Riccò's team mechanics
have cooked up here but it's of little consequence; almost no amount
of weight savings could account for Riccò's stunning performance today
which is just fine with us. Long live the Tour, indeed.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here