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2002 Pro Bikes

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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Baden Cooke's 2003 FDJeux.com Lapierre Scandium

All aboard the Captain Cooke!
Photo ©: Tom Balks

Just what the Cookie Monster ordered

By Anthony Tan

Not just mustard from Dijon
Photo: © Tom Balks
Click for larger image

With just about every material suitable for building road bikes extruded, forged, welded, bonded, brazed, bent or butted, it appears we are now entering a phase of refinement rather than revolution. Baden Cooke's FDJeux.com Lapierre is testimony to that.

Founded in 1948, Lapierre, a relatively unknown brand outside of France, began their foray into the two wheeled world rather modestly with a range of commuter and utility bikes some fifty years ago. Around 30 years later, just when mountain bike murmurings were gaining momentum in the US of A, the Dijon-based company changed their focus in line with these northern American happenings, and still today, mountain bike sales account for more than half of Lapierre's total production of 50-odd thousand bikes annually.

Ritch way up?
Photo: © Tom Balks
Click for larger image

However, a reversion in popularity to the road in recent times cannot be ignored. Possibly a consequence of this and being part of the Dutch-based Acell group - which includes Batavus, Koga-Miyata, Dawes and Mercier - Lapierre became the official bike sponsor of France's number one team, La Française des Jeux, their name now "webberised" to FDJeux.com.

Having a yarn with FDJeux.com's mechanics at the Tour Down Under a few months ago, I was told that Marc Madiot's team of merry men are perched on ostensibly the same bikes as last year. Their 2003 Lapierre is a sub one kilo, custom-built, scandium-aluminium alloy, the main difference this year being the slightly thicker top and down tubes for increased stiffness and lateral rigidity.

Rather Rolf-ish
Photo: © Tom Balks
Click for larger image

Interestingly, most of the taller FDJeux.com boys prefer the traditional rather than "compact" frame design, their claim being that the former inspires more confidence when steering their trusty steeds down those mammoth mountain passes in the Alps and Pyrénées - something Brad McGee needs plenty of after overshooting a turn at 70 km/h down the Col d'Abisque in last year's Tour (thankfully, Brad managed to get back on his bike and made it all the way to Paris).

Shimano have certainly made their presence felt with the group, cycle computer, pedals and wheels all courtesy of the ze big S. The Dura-Ace wheel, while rather Rolf-ish looking with a quad-flange design and spoke heads protruding from the rim sidewall, was tested extensively in last year's Tour de France, and so far, so good.

All aboard the Capt'n Cooke!
Photo: © Tom Balks
Click for larger image

In what seems to be a pro cyclist's bread and butter (or should that be bars and butter), ITM's Millenium stem and bars have featured on more pro bikes than any other brand since, well… the millennium. One noticeable change, however. In an oversized aluminium bicycle world, the diameter of the mid-section of the bars has now increased from 25.8mm to 31.7mm, reflecting the Millenium's new surname, "Super Over".

Another upgrade to an ever-popular product is Michelin's Axial Pro Race, which is essentially the popular Axial Pro with a new tread compound called Silicium that is claimed to be more puncture resistant and provide improved grip. The Pro Race is also a tad lighter than its predecessor - so on a set of 700x23c tyres, you'll save about 40 grams, but it'll cost you an extra 20 bucks.

All in all, a refined, well-trained, race-ready road machine. Just what the Cookie Monster ordered.


Images by Tom Balks/www.tombalks.com

Full specification

Frame: Lapierre FDJeux.com Scandium
Fork: Lapierre carbon
Colour: FDJeux.com

Cranks: Shimano Dura-Ace 39/53
Bottom bracket:
Shimano Dura-Ace
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace
Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace
Levers: Shimano Dura-Ace
Rear sprockets: Shimano Dura-Ace, 11-23

Wheels: Shimano Dura-Ace WH-7701, front: 756g, rear: 952g
Skewers: Shimano
Tyres: Michelin Axial Pro Race, 700C x 23

Bars: ITM Millenium Super Over, 240g
Stem: ITM Millenium Super Over, 165g
Headset: Cane Creek integrated

Pedals: Shimano Dura Ace PD-7700 SPD-R, 300g/pair
Seat post: Ritchey WCS Road Post, 27.2mm, 190g (280mm)
Saddle: Selle Italia Flite Genuine Gel, 265g
Bottle cages: Elite
Cycle computer: Shimano Flight Deck