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2002 Pro Bikes

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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano's 2003 Giant TCR Composite Team

Mach 1 standing still
Photo ©: Tom Balks

Just your everyday dream bike, really

By Anthony Tan

Shine off
Photo: © Tom Balks
Click for larger image

A special edition of this bike was unveiled at last year's Tour de France, leaving hundreds of thousands of cycling addicts with their tongues wagging around the French countryside. Then along came another special edition - the Giant TCR Composite Gold: 35 hand made, hand assembled bikes with 24 carat gold plating.

At US$10,000 a pop, that stunt sent those dreamers who were still trying to get over what they saw at Le Tour straight into the stratosphere. Surely Giant had to bring out a domesticated version for mortals someday...

Simple, clean lines
Photo: © Tom Balks
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Introducing Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano's Giant TCR Composite Team for 2003. Hardly what you'd call a bike for the budget-conscious at around half the price of the Giant TCR Composite Gold, but at least within reach for those who've managed to save their pennies since they first laid eyes on this beauty at last year's Tour. Apart from the use of custom geometry for Joseba Beloki's 650c climbing bike, the same TCR Composite Team can now be bought straight off the rack at your LBS (local bike shop).

The advantageous properties of carbon-fibre frame and fork are endless, although it's suffice to say it is every amateur and pro racer's dream material if moolah were no object. Ability to absorb shock while maintaining stiffness, light weight, resilience to fatigue - all without the need for aesthetically unpleasing oversize tubing - provide compelling reasons why the pros at ONCE-Eroski are a squad of very happy campers in 2003.

A touch of class
Photo: © Tom Balks
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Beginning in August 1997, ONCE's relationship with Giant has been a long and fruitful one, so what you see today is the result of almost six years' ongoing feedback from riders on Spain's top professional team. Another long-term partner of ONCE is Campagnolo, who have been associated with Manolo (Saiz, DS) and his men since their decision to change the country of origin of their bike sponsor from France (Look) to Taiwan.

Campy flippers
Photo: © Tom Balks
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Not surprising then that Gonzalez De Galdeano as well as the rest of his ONCE-Eroski teammates use the full Campagnolo Record 10 speed group throughout and super light Neutron wheels (tubular version), with Igor also using Campy's clipless flippers that bear a close resemblance in design and appearance to Shimano's SPD-SL "Lance" pedals. Campagnolo's Hyperon wheelset - essentially a carbon fibre version of the Neutron - did not make an appearance at the Tour Down Under where these photos were taken, although these exquisite hula hoops did come out at Tour time to make the envious turn that little bit greener.

Photo: © Tom Balks
Click for larger image

Up front, ONCE-Eroski's components continue to be bred from Italy - this time from another long-admired and trusted brand, Cinelli. Located in Caleppio di Settala, Milano, the 54 year-old company is best known for making the first aluminium handlebar, the first footstraps and the first clipless pedals. The Solido stem extends that innovation, using an incredibly lightweight but strong CNC machined aluminium/titanium alloy, while the ergo-shaped Solida bar provides a rather, umm... solid complement.

Bearing an uncanny similarity to a miniature cricket bat turned on its head, the Giant-manufactured carbon fibre seatpost has long been a feature of Giant's TCR compact road range, and comes in different lengths to provide a perfect fit for us plebs whose ability on a pushbike doesn't warrant a custom-built frame. Clamped into the micro-adjustable seatpost is one of cycling's Golden Oldies - Selle Italia's no-nonsense Flite saddle. In Selle Italia's no-nonsense colour: black.

All-in-all, a very tasty little machine. Just your everyday dream bike, really.


Images by Tom Balks/www.tombalks.com

Full specification

Frame: Giant TCR Composite carbon fibre, 950g
Fork: Giant Composite SL w/ carbon steerer, 355g
Colour: Natural composite finish

Cranks: Campagnolo Record 53/39
Bottom bracket: Campagnolo Record
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: Campagnolo Neutron
Spokes: Campagnolo
Rim: Campagnolo Neutron
Skewers: Campagnolo
Tyres: Hutchinson Carbon Comp

Stem: Cinelli Solido Ahead, 2030 T6 aluminium
Headset: Campagnolo Record integrated
Bar: Cinelli Solida, 7075 T6 aluminium

Pedals: Campagnolo Record
Seat post: Giant SL carbon composite aero w/ micro adjust
Saddle: Selle Italia Flite, 235g