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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Fabio Sacchi's Team Saeco Cannondale CAAD7

Wild thing, I think I love you...
Photo ©: Tom Balks

Like a tiger

By Anthony Tan

Feline frenzy
Photo: © Tom Balks
Click for larger image

While road bike technology may have plateaued, paint schemes on two-wheeled machines continue to reach new levels. Colnago was one of the first with their stylish Art Deco paintjobs on their Master Olympic and C-40 frames almost a decade ago. Then Fondriest raised the bar at last year's Tour with Raivis Belohvosciks' Lampre-Daikin Top Level.

This year however, bike frame artwork has been sent into the stratosphere with Fabio Sacchi unleashing his feline-themed beast at the Tour Down Under, leaving tongues wagging all the way across the Barossa Valley. And it wasn't from the wine or the podium girls.

Only the best
Photo: © Tom Balks
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A quick squiz at the frame reveals no real surprises. Aluminium has always been 'Dale's forte, with this year being no different across the entire range of bikes. In fact, Cannondale actually released their top of the line CAAD7 road frame in 2002, so other than the use of a slightly stronger aluminium tubing branded "Optimo", the 2003 CAAD7 remains largely unchanged.

Also unchanged is the company's stance on combining carbon fibre with aluminium. The Bedford, Connecticut-based firm continues to buck the growing trend for carbon fibre add-ons, favouring long, thin, hourglass-shaped tubes for the seatstays and very conventional looking tubes for the chainstays - which isn't a bad thing.

The relationship between Cannondale and Team Saeco has been a progressive and fruitful one. A frame can be tested to the nth degree, but most would agree the true test lies out on the road. Riders like "Gibo" Simoni and Danilo Di Luca have been particularly vocal in providing valuable input into the company's R&D program, while at the same time being receptive and open to Cannondale-conceived innovations.

Photo: © Tom Balks
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Innovations like the System Integration componentry that features the Hollowgram one-piece crankset and bottom bracket. Weighing in at a mere 525 grams, the whole unit weighs 15 per cent less than the Dura-Ace equivalent - meaning no more silly diet plans from the bulimically inclined.

Speaking of one-piece outfits, Cinelli's RAM Silver Limited Edition integrated stem/handlebar combination is très groovy and looks as dapper as a three piece Armani. Monocoque construction, high modulus carbon fiber, around 10-15 percent less than a standard lightweight bar and stem combo and complete with tiger stripes. Purrrr.

Keeping the Italian flavour among a predominantly Italian team is Campy's 10 speed group that, to date, has yet to be seriously challenged in terms of aesthetics. It's quite simply a gorgeous looking group that functions incredibly well - something Japanese rival Shimano can only lay claim to the latter.

Sexy eyes
Photo: © Tom Balks
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Mavic - responsible for the squadra rosso rolling smoothly (and seemingly every other team) cater for just about any terrain imaginable with their entire range of hoops at Team Saeco's disposal. From the ubiquitous Ksyriums for tackling the likes of the Passo Gavia and Motirolo to the deep rim Cosmic Carbones for flying along the flats in the first week of Le Tour, the French stalwart appears to have all roads covered. Interestingly, Sacchi opts for the heavier but more comfortable Classics Pro wheelset for training, although the term "heavy" is a bit of a misnomer when you've still looking at a sub-eight kilo machine.

Interesting but hardly surprising is Sacchi's Fi'zi:k Aliante saddle in show-stopping white. Like many Italian men, Sacchi isn't ashamed of being a bit of a show-pony, so it's no revelation to see him choose a colour that only contributes to the "look at me" effect.

When you put a showman on a show-pony that's dressed to kill, it's easy to see why Fabio Sacchi makes plenty of women - and maybe a few men as well - weak at the knees. Wild thing, I think I love you...


Images by Tom Balks/www.tombalks.com

Full specification

Frame: Cannondale CAAD7
Fork: Cannondale Slice Si carbon, manufactured by Time
Colour: Team Saeco

Cranks/bottom bracket: Cannondale Si Hollowgram integrated
Chain: Campagnolo Record 10s
Front derailleur: Campagnolo Record 10s
Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Record 10s
Brakes: Campagnolo Record
Levers: Campagnolo Record
Rear sprockets: Campagnolo Record, 11-23

Hubs: Mavic Classics Pro
Spokes: DT Swiss
Rim: Mavic Classics Pro
Skewers: Mavic
Tyres: Hutchinson Carbon Comp, 700C x 23

Bar/stem: Cinelli RAM Silver Limited Edition integrated, 320g
Headset: Campagnolo Record integrated

Pedals: Time Equipe Pro Magnesium, 400g/pair
Seat post: Campagnolo Chorus Titanium, 27.2mm, 195g
Saddle: Fi'zi:k Aliante, 160g
Bottle cages: Elite Patao 24ct Gold Plated, 47g
Cycle computer: Sigma Sport BC 1200