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Pro bikes, June 14, 2006

Danilo Di Luca's Liquigas Bianchi FG Lite

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Photos ©: Anthony Tan/Cyclingnews

Di Luca's Silver Bullet

Liquigas leader Danilo Di Luca wasn't quite where he wanted to be at this year's Giro d'Italia, and no doubt he's now asking himself questions as to what went wrong. Visiting Bianchi headquarters in Treviglio, Italy, Anthony Tan finds there's no blame on the bike.

Bianchi's full carbon fork
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The unpainted frame exposes tidy welding
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The top tube flutes out to a teardrop shape
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The downtube
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Fi'zi:k's Arione saddle,
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Admittedly, it was a little disappointing to see Danilo Di Luca plummet down the classifica generale from 10th to 23rd on the penultimate day of the 2006 Giro d'Italia.

After his magnificent performance last year, where he finished fourth overall including a solid stint in the maglia rosa, 'the Killer of Spoltore' openly declared his ambitions to win the race this year. However, from the moment Ivan Basso took control of the race on the Maielletta climb at the end of the first week, everyone else began racing for second.

For one reason or another, we never saw the Di Luca of last year at the '06 Giro. In 2005, he was aggressive but also consistent. This year, he was inconsistent but also less aggressive, or at least not strong enough to show off his typically attacking style. Now provides a time for reflection, where his performances will be reviewed and analysed, along with some changes made, before returning to the two-wheeled coal furnace that is the ProTour.

Nevertheless, his team's bike sponsor Bianchi pulled out all stops for the likeable Liquigasser from Spoltore. Davide Brambilla, managing director of Bianchi International, told Cyclingnews every frame is custom-made for the entire Liquigas ProTour team according to each rider's body size, shape and personal preferences, with Di Luca also specifying an aluminium rear triangle, rather than the carbon stays seen on the production version of the FG Lite. "The ride dynamics are almost identical with an aluminium rear triangle, but Danilo prefers full alloy," added Bianchi's R&D manager Luca Minesso. "Other riders on the team like to copy Danilo, so a few of them have also asked for the same specification."

It's interesting to see more and more companies go down the unpainted frame path to shave a hundred-odd grams or so, exposing themselves to the lenses of Cyclingnews, but looking at the joins around the head tube and bottom bracket clusters, it's incredibly neat welding by the tinkers from Treviglio.

Asked if it employs Scandium tubing, Minesso said no, but added the triple butted alloy is similar to Scandium: "It has higher properties than Scandium, and is probably most similar to Dedaccai's U9 tubing," he told Cyclingnews. "It's a special alloy we developed four years ago, and has a yield strength of 650 Newtons per square millimetre, enabling the walls [thicknesses] to be very thin - the top tube is only 0.65 millimetres [thick] - and at 950 grams, also very light. But because the tubing is so thin, you cannot hydroform these tubes; if you do, it will crack."

Elsewhere, apart from the obvious mass of carbon - fork, cranks, seat post, wheels - the noticeable other that makes this FG Lite different from the rest is the Killer's custom Fi'zi:k Arione. A molto cool extra to an already bella bicicletta.

The good news is that Di Luca still has two-thirds of the season left to make up for what happened in his home tour. There's still two Grand Tours, a handful of ProTour classics well-suited to his abilities, and the world championships in Austria, should he choose to ride it. Vai Dani, vai!


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Anthony Tan/Cyclingnews


Full specification

Frame: Bianchi FG Lite, custom spec
Fork: Bianchi full carbon
Colour: Liquigas, custom spec

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.68cm/ 5'6"
Rider's weight: 61kg/ 135lbs
C of BB to C of seat tube: 467mm
C of BB to T of seat: 690mm
Top tube length: 525mm (c-c)
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars: 547mm
C of front wheel to top of bars: 537mm

Cranks: Campagnolo Record, 172.5mm, 39/53
Chain: Campagnolo Record 10-speed
Front derailleur: Campagnolo Record 10-speed
Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Record 10-speed
Brakes: Campagnolo Record
Levers: Campagnolo Record 10-speed
Rear sprockets: Campagnolo Record, 11-23


Wheels: Campagnolo Bora Ultra tubular
Tyres: Continental Competition 22 tubular

Bar: ITM Millenium carbon, 44cm (o-o)
Stem: ITM Millenium, 120mm (c-c)
Headset: FSA Integrated

Pedals: Time RXS
Seat post: ITM K-Sword
Saddle: Fi'zi:k Arione carbon, custom design
Bottle cages: Elite carbon
Cycle computer: Polar

Claimed frame weight: 950 grams/ 2.09 lbs