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Pro bikes, December 18, 2006

Davide Frattini's Blue Competition Cycles

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Photos ©:Kirsten Robbins/Cyclingnews
Ambrosio Hub with Shimano 105 sprokets
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Compact Shimano R700 cranks are fitted with 34/46T chainrings.
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The FRM Ciclo-X cantilever brake uses spokes instead of a conventional straddle wire
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Frattini's team CXC frame uses a slightly steeper head tube angle
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Selle Italia is another of Frattini's personal sponsors
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A larger diameter flange on the front Ambrosio XXL Carbon
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Profile Design's Lava OS stem clamps its Hammer OS handlebar
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Out of the blue

By Kirsten Robbins

Blue Competition Cycles has earned a solid reputation for its carbon and aluminum road frames on the road front and has also landed some solid results from its past sponsorship of Tina Pic and her Quark team. For the 2007 road season, the Georgia-based company will sponsor Team Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light.

Blue expanded into the cyclo-cross realm this year with its CXC model, made with its Aerus Composites Conquest high modulus carbon tubeset joined with 7005 aluminum lugs. To go along with the new frames, the company also added a pair of Italian 'cross riders to its team roster, Davide Frattini and Luca Damiani. Both will compete in European cyclo-cross through the months of December and January in the world-cup series and the World Championships with the Italian national team.

Frattini is well known as a former winner of Italy's 'Baby' Giro d' Italia in 2001, who then came to the US in 2003 after racing two years with the professional European-based Alessio squad. Road racing is Frattini's main focus and the bulk of his contract with Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light revolves around just that. Though he is more well-known for his climbing prowess, he has also become a capable all-rounder in North American racing winning events ranging from the Tour of Bisbee to Captech Classic.

Still, Frattini has a liking for cyclo-cross and claims the sport provides him with the strength he needs to race well on the road. "I lost some of my climbing [ability] but gained more power because of the style of racing in the US," Frattini said. "I started to race cyclo-cross again because it was the best way to continue to improve upon the US road cycling. The kind of efforts involved in cyclo-cross are similar to the efforts of a time trial and a criterium and these are things I am still improving."

Blue Competition Cycles provides Frattini with two of CXC framesets to use in his cyclo-cross season, and both.have made regular podium appearances at North American UCI cyclo-cross events.

Frattini acknowledges several qualities of his Blue CXC, including its ability to absorb vibrations while still maintaining good stiffness, likely owing to its carbon content. Carbon fiber is still somewhat of a rarity in cyclo-crossgiven the level of abuse that the rough courses can deliver, but Blue reinforces its CXC with aluminum lugs to increase the bike's overall strength at the joints.

Frattini also praises the bike's ample clearance at both the chain stays and fork crown. "The more space you have the better when racing in the mud," Frattini said. "Every time the wheels rotate they bring more mud and if you have a narrow space the mud will get stuck and you will need to change the bike more often, losing valuable time."

Off-the-bike comfort factors into 'cross racing as well, and Blue equips its CXC with a flattened top tube to facilitate shouldering. "The tubing starts round at the joints and becomes flat in the center," Frattini said. "It is very comfortable for when I need to carry my bike."

On a more personal preference, Frattini's favorite aspect of his Blue CXC is the angle of the head tube and fork. "Mine is steeper at 72 degrees, which accommodates my style of riding, allowing me to enter into the turns faster and to be more aggressive in the technical sections of a cyclo-cross circuit," Frattini said. On a similar vein, the top tube on Frattini's CXC is one centimetre shorter than what he typically runs on his road frames, which enables him to be more upright for surer handling.

After an impressive showing in cyclo-cross this season, Blue will provide Frattini with two completeCXC bikes for next season (currently they only provide framesets). For now he must build his high-end frame with mismatched components from his previous year's bike. The bulk of his components are Shimano Ultegra with the notable exception of a Shimano R700 compact crankset. "If you have no sponsorship for components who can give you brand new equipment every year, you need to arrange a set of components that are durable and work well," Frattini said. "Shimano Ultegra is not the top of the line, but it is a good compromise between price and quality. In cyclo-cross, I race a lot in the mud and the sand but my Ultegra has never given me a problem."

Frattini doesn't seem to mind a 'lesser' set of components and you wouldn't be able to tell by watching him race. In fact, it may be a testament to his training, fitness and skill. "It is satisfying when I race at the same level as guys who have full, high-end components," Frattini said with a grin.

Frattini runs two different braking systems with a FRM -Ciclo-X on the front and Tektro Oryx on the back. This arrangement may seem odd but Frattini has good reason for doing so. "Originally I had one bike built with complete FRM Ciclo-X and my second bike built with complete Tektro Oryx," but he prefers the FRM stoppers. "Because I brake more with the front, I improvised by putting the two good FRM Cyclo-X brakes on the front of each bike."

Ambrosio and Gommitalia are Frattini's personal wheel and tiresponsors in Italy. He upgraded his wheelset from the Ambrosio X-Carbo last year to the 2007 XXL Carbon wheels this season. "The wheels are very light and stiff with thin spokes and smooth hubs," Frattini said. "Compared to the X-Carbo, the profile is deeper. The deeper dish acts like a knife cutting through the mud."

Frattini has made the Italian connection with sponsor Selle Italia as well. He has chosen to ride on the Selle Italia Team Edition for this cyclo-cross season. "I chose the Team Edition because it is light and the framing is a stiff carbon fiber," Frattini said. "Plus the full white saddle looks really


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Images by Kirsten Robbins/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: Blue Competition Cycles CXC, high-modulus carbon fiber and 7005 aluminum
Fork: Blue Competition Cycles carbon fiber
Headset: Chris King NoThreadset, 1 1/8"
Stem: Profile Design Lava OS 120mm
Handlebars: Profile Design, Hammer OS 44cm (c-c)
Front brake: FRM Ciclo-X Braking System with Ritchey brake pads for carbon rims
Rear brake: Tektro Oryx with Ritchey brake pads for carbon rims
Brake levers: Shimano Ultegra
Front derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
Rear derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
Shift levers: Shimano Ultegra
Cassette: Shimano 105, 12-25T
Chain: Shimano Ultegra
Crankset: Shimano R700 compact, 172.5mm, with 34/46T chainrings
Bottom bracket: Shimano Ultegra Hollowtech II
Pedals: Shimano PD-M959
Wheelset: Ambrosio XXL Carbon
Front tire: Gommitalia Magnum Cross tubular, 32c
Rear tire: Gommitalia Magnum Cross tubular, 32c
Saddle: Selle Italia Team Edition SLR
Seat post: FSA SL 280 Alloy

Critical measurements

Rider's height: 1.80m (5'11")
Rider's weight: 63kg/138lbs
Seat tube length, c-c: 510mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 560mm
Saddle height, from BB center to top: 750mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars: 570.5mm
Total bicycle weight: 7.6kg (16.7lb)