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Pro bikes, February 10, 2006

Chris Sutton's Cofidis Wilier Team

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Photos ©: Paul Henderson-Kelly/Cyclingnews

Moving back from the track to the road

By John Stevenson

Tidy welding
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Ritchey WCS fork
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The bottom bracket area
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Campagnolo Record carbon brake/shift levers
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Mavic brakes
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Training tools
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FSA K-Force MegaExo cranks
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Vittoria Corsa Evo CX tubulars
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Selle Italia SLR saddle and Ritchey seat post
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Chris Sutton's Wilier
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Chris "CJ" Sutton admits that the Wilier he wheels into the Cyclingnews offices isn't really his own personal bike. The 21-year-old Cofidis neo-pro is rolling around on a bike donated by a team-mate; but when he does get his own quiver of bikes, one of them will be virtually identical to this Wilier Cofidis Team with Campagnolo record components.

Sutton comes from a cycling family. His dad, Gary, is a top Australian coach with responsibility for the junior national team, while his uncle Shane is British track team coach. Gary Sutton was points race world champion while Shane had a successful pro career in the UK in the 1980s racing the televised criterium circuit, and winning Britain's top stage race, the pro-am Milk Race. Now Chris is following in their tracks.

Sutton has been known as a track rider - with Chris Pascoe he was 2005 Australian Madison champion - but over the last couple of years he has made the transition to the road, a well-worn development path for young Australian riders. That transition has involved some changes to his bike set-up.

"I've gone further back and used a shorter stem," he tells Cyclingnews as we get out the tape measure and notebook to record the details of his bike. "I used to pedal with pointy toes but now I am more flat-footed," he says.

In total, Sutton has moved back 2cm over the last couple of years, a deliberate change in search of more sustained power for climbs, rather than the short bursts of power needed for track racing. "The changes help prevent cramping on longer races," he says. He's obviously doing something right as 2005 brought victories in the GP Liberazione and Coppa G. Romita, significant Italian races for young riders.

As well as his dad's coaching, Sutton says that he's been helped enormously by the sports scientists at the New South Wales Institute of Sport. "These guys don't get the recognition they deserve," he says before rattling off an Oscar-winner's list of people he credits with helping him to his first pro contract: NSWIS CEO Charles Turner; Kenneth Graeme, NSWIS' manager sport science services; Chris Yeomans, sport scientist and physiologist; "and all the other sport scientists and staff."

Before turning pro for Cofidis, after a successful stint as a stagiaire last year, Sutton had ridden with the Française des Jeux-NSWIS team of Rod and Brad McGee, and also credits the McGee brothers

As we shoot the bike, Sutton asks us to avoid showing the rather nasty dent in the down tube that it's sustained as a result of its world travels. The Wilier's aluminium-scandium tubing is plenty tough, but lightweight tubing just doesn't take to side impacts from careless handling, no matter how good it is.

Hanging off this well-used workhorse is rather a lot of carbon fiber, including quite a few Campagnolo Record carbon components. Sutton's gears are from Vicenza, and therefore so are the brake/shift levers, but the brakes themselves are Mavic's unusual stoppers. They work well with Campagnolo's levers because Campagnolo provides a quick-release at the lever, but they're notoriously awkward with Shimano STI units, which don't.

Pushing things round is an FSA K-Force MegaExo crankset with 53/39 chainrings and 172.5mm carbon fiber arms. The Campagnolo chain is the Record hollow pin model, and Cofidis are French loyalists when it comes to pedals, with Look's highly-regarded Keo units.

We stay in France for the wheels. Sutton is riding his Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL race wheels today, because, as far as we can tell, he just flat-out likes them. The team also has access to all the Ksyriums they can eat. "These are the tyres we race on too," he says, pointing to the blue rubber of his 21mm Vittoria Evo CX tubulars.

Up top, Sutton sits on a Selle Italia SLR that's supported by Ritchey WCS seatpost. I broach the sometimes delicate topic of saddles carefully. "People seem to either love or hate the SLRs..."

"I really like them!" Sutton says with a big grin as if he's pleased that his 'saddle area' is tougher than mine. Obviously I spend way too much time in an office chair and have therefore not developed the buns of steel necessary for super-minimal saddles (and in fairness to Selle Italia, there's no component more individual than saddles).

ITM provides the team's steering components and Sutton chooses a 42cm wide bar OS Ultra bar and 110mm stem.

As befits a keen young rider, Sutton makes sure I note down all his and his team's non-bike sponsors too. Specialized supplies the team with helmets and Sutton has his own arrangements with Shimano for shoes, Rudy Project for eyewear and Sock Guy for undershirts and socks. Ten minutes after he's rolled down the road he calls the office to add two he's forgotten: team clothing sponsors Nalini and adidas.

If this dedication and enthusiasm turns into race results this year, we'll be hearing a lot of this young Aussie and - when it gets issued - his own Cofidis team-issue Wilier bikes.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Paul Henderson-Kelly/Cyclingnews

Full specification

Frame: Wilier Team scandium
Fork: Ritchey WCS carbon fiber

Critical measurements
Rider's height:176cm
Rider's weight:66kg
C of BB to C of seat tube: 480mm
C of BB to T of seat tube: 520mm
C of BB to T of seat: 750mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars: 545mm
C of front wheel to top of bars: 580mm

Cranks: FSA K-Force MegaExo, 172.5mm, 39/53
Chain: Campagnolo Record
Front derailleur: Campagnolo Record
Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Record
Brakes: Mavic
Levers: Campagnolo Record
Rear sprockets: Campagnolo Record, 11-23


Wheels: Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL
Tyres: Vittoria Evo CX 21mm

Bar: ITM Millennium, 7075 aluminium, 42cm
Stem: ITM Millennium
Headset: Ritchey WCS

Pedals: Look Keo
Seat post: Ritchey WCS
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR
Bottle cages: Elite
Cycle computer: Sigma Sport

Total bike weight: NA