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Pro bikes, February 20, 2006

Luca Paolini's Bianchi FG Lite

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Photos ©: Mark Gunter/Cyclingnews

Celestial seasoning

By John Stevenson & Les Clarke

The FG Lite
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ITM bar and stem
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Campagnolo Record rear derailleur
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Continental Competition tubulars
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Fizik Arione
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A mechanic's hands
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Double Polar
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In its second year as a ProTour outfit, the reborn Liquigas team has recruited Italian Luca Paolini from Quickstep-Innergetic. Once again, the team is riding bikes from Italy's oldest - and arguably most famous - marque, Bianchi.

Like team leader Danilo Di Luca and his other team-mates, Paolini is riding the FG Lite, Bianchi's featherweight aluminium answer to the superlight carbon fiber bikes being offered by so many manufacturers. Team manager Dario Mariuzzo tells us that the 29-year-old Italian trained and raced on this bike right through the week-long Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. Although it's the 2005 model, Paolini is happy with both the weight and the stiffness the frame has to offer, and appreciates the qualities offered by the alloy frame as opposed to a carbon machine.

Weighing in at 7.5kg, Paolini's FG Lite is no slouch in the weight stakes either. With Paolini getting closer to the 70kg mark the weight/rigidity balance of this Bianchi suits his strong style of riding, seen throughout the week in South Australia.

Paolini had been using his Campagnolo Boras on training rides all week during the Tour Down Under - he's a big fan of the rigidity offered by Campag's premium carbon hoops. On most occasions these wheels are saved specially for racing, but not Paolini - the Italian sprinter likes his kit to look good too, and that's something Boras have always had going for them.

As well as the Italian wheels, much of the rest of Paolini's bike is Italian. Campagnolo supplies the rest of the running gear, with its Record group. There's almost nothing to say about Record that hasn't been said a dozen times before. It's light, and it works.

There's more Italian goodies at two of the bike's three major contact areas with a fizik Arione saddle and ITM handlebar. The bar and stem are ITM's light but durable Millennium pieces in 7075 aluminium. It's possible to save weight in this area of the bike with other materials, but it's interesting to note how few pros choose to trust anything but aluminium here.

Paolini has not one but two Polar devices mounted on his bar and stem - a heart rate monitor and a computer. Since the Polar computers also have heart rate monitor functions, Paolini can be sure his cardiac activity is thoroughly observed.

The third contact point is taken care of by Look's lightweight Keo pedals, a widely popular choice since their introduction in late 2004.

Look breaks with the Italian theme, of course, as do Paolini's tyres - Continental Competition tubulars. The tubulars vs clinchers debate rages on but if you like Bora wheels, as we've seen Paolini does, then tubulars are your only option, and Continentals are as good as it gets.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Mark Gunter/www.pbase.com/gunterphotograph

Full specification

Frame: Dedacciai Hyperalloy triple butted aluminium
Fork: Bianchi full carbon
Colour: Bianchi celeste

Critical measurements
Rider's height/weight: 174cm/5ft 9in; 68kg/149lbs
C of BB to C of seat tube: 465mm
C of BB to T of seat tube: 505mm
C of BB to T of seat: 710mm
Top tube length: 510mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars: 545mm
C of front wheel to top of bars: 555mm

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


Wheels: Campagnolo Bora
Tyres: Continental Competition tubular, 22mm

Bar: ITM Millennium 7075 aluminium, 440mm
Stem: ITM Millennium 7075 aluminium, 125mm
Headset: Bianchi carbon, 1 1/8"

Pedals: Look Keo
Seat post: Selcof carbon, 35mm
Saddle: Fizik Arione, ti rails
Bottle cages: Elite carbon
Cycle computer: Polar

Total weight: 7.5kg/16.5lbs