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Pro bikes, May 29, 2008

Alberto Contador's Astana Trek Madone 5.2

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Photo ©: Shane Stokes

Giro d'Italia leader's machine streaks toward finish in Milano

By Shane Stokes

Like Lance Armstrong, Contador prefers a San Marco Concor Light saddle.
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The bike uses a SRAM Red chainset
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Contador's footsies go here
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A titanium cage drops a lot of weight here
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The rear derailleur is fitted with ceramic bearings
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The Red levers use SRAM's unique DoubleTap method
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Tour de France champion Alberto Contador may have been denied the chance to defend his title this July by race organizer ASO but he and the rest of his Astana team have made the most of a late call-up to the Giro d'Italia. With just four days to go, Contador finds himself in the maglia rosa of race leader and looks poised to carry it all the way to the final stage finish in Milano on Sunday.

The team's last-minute invitation meant that Contador, Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Klöden and other teammates came into the event with less-than-ideal preparation. In fact, the Spaniard said that he had spent part of the time leading up to the race on vacation. Yet despite that poor buildup - and the fact that he'd been in good form for quite a while this season instead of peaking for a specific target - solid consistency in the mountains and the time trials have put him 41 seconds ahead of Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval - Scott) and a further 40 seconds up on double-winner Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli).

Should Contador hold on to win, it will be the second-ever Giro victory for team bicycle sponsor Trek (Paolo Savoldelli won in 2005for the now-defunct Discovery Channel team) but those two bikes have little in common other than the model name. In stark contrast to the rather traditional-looking layout that Savoldelli (and seven-time winner Lance Armstrong) used, the new design features a sloping top tube, a unique no-cut integrated seatmast, a 90mm-wide bottom bracket shell with drop-in cartridge bearings, plus a correspondingly oversized down tube and widely-set asymmetrical chain stays. It also utilizes a tapered and oversized 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" steerer tube.

We nabbed Contador's bike at the team hotel prior to the start of a Giro stage. There were actually two bikes belonging to him that were being worked on before the scheduled departure of the squad and a team official pointed us in the direction of one, assuring us that it was the rider's main bike. However the presence of a race number on the other suggested that we had got the spare steed, a suggestion backed up by his requesting that we weigh one but not the other. Was the main bike below the UCI's requested weight limit of 6.8kg? We can't sure (the one we weighed was 6.9kg), but the team official's directing away from one bike to the other certainly made us wonder.

Contador used a mid-level Madone 5.2 frameset last year and we were told then that team would upgrade to the company’s top-shelf 6.9 model this sesason. That frame uses a more advanced carbon fibre blend and lay-up schedule as well as a carbon steerer to shed about 120g in total but ride quality and frame rigidity are apparently identical between the two. Since last year’s Discovery Channel bikes were already dangerously close to the UCI weight limit, nearly the entire team is continuing to use the 5.2 frameset (including its aluminium steerer) to stay legal. According to team liaison Ben Coates, the lone exception is Levi Leipheimer who is using the lighter frameset to help offset the added weight of his SRM power meter.

Contador's machine is fitted with a nearly complete SRAM Red group with the lone exception being a Dura-Ace chain. Trek's in-house Bontrager label is applied to much of the rest of the bike, including the Race XXX Lite low-profile carbon tubular wheels, Race XXX Lite carbon bar and Race X Lite forged aluminium stem. Tubular tyres bear a rather-faded Hutchinson hot stamp and the 172.5mm-long crankarms are capped with Look KeO Carbon pedals. Perched atop the carbon seatmast is the same Selle San Marco Concor saddle that Armstrong favoured during his Tour de France reign.

Speaking of Armstrong, the Texan was notably demanding of team equipment sponsors in his search for stiffer, lighter frames and components which often led to key product developments. So what about Contador - does he have any specific requirements?

It would appear not. "Alberto uses the same bike as all the other guys on the team," said mechanic Faustino Muñoz. "It's exactly the same; he doesn't use anything different to them. His position is also unchanged from before. It's the same as last year."

As good as the Madone 6.9 has already proven itself to be (and as fresh as the design is), we've grown somewhat accustomed to finding new goodies come TdF time as most teams have something stashed away in the goodie bag. With Astana set to miss this year's race, though, the Vuelta a España seems to be a logical launch point but we'll have to wait and see if anything pops up. If all goes to plan over the next few days, the team will then be chasing their second Grand Tour success of the season there, aiming to add the maillot oro to the maglia rosa.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: Trek Madone 5.2 Pro
Size: 54cm
Fork: Bontrager Race XXX Lite, full carbon w/E2 carbon steerer

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.76m (5' 10") ; Weight: 62kg (136lb)
Seat tube length, c-c: 470mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 495mm
Top tube length: 539mm (effective)
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 740mm
Saddle nose tip to C of bars: 560mm
C of front hub to top of bars: 560mm

Front brake: SRAM Red
Rear brake: SRAM Red
Levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap
Front derailleur: SRAM Red
Rear derailleur: SRAM Red
Cassette: SRAM OG-1090, 11-26T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7801
Crankset: SRAM Red, 172.5mm, 53/39T
Bottom bracket: SRAM Red


Wheelset: Bontrager Race XXX Lite tubular
Tyres: Hutchinson tubular

Bars: Bontrager Race XXX Lite, 42cm (c-c)
Stem: Bontrager Race X Lite, 120mm x -6°
Headset: Cane Creek 110 custom
Tape/grip: Bontrager cork

Pedals: Look KeO Carbon
Seat post: Integrated
Saddle: Selle San Marco Concor Light
Bottle cages: Bontrager Race Lite

Total bike weight: 6.9kg (15.2lb)