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Bayern Rundfahrt
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91st Tour de France - July 3-25, 2004

Tour de France tech, July 18, 2004

Thomas Voeckler's Brioches La Boulangère Time VXRS

Photo ©: Chris Henry
Stronglight Pulsion cranks
Photo ©: Chris Henry
Seating by Selle San Marco
Photo ©: Chris Henry
Time's beefy Monolink stem
Photo ©: Chris Henry
Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL wheels
Photo ©: Chris Henry
Extended seat tube
Photo ©: Chris Henry
Mavic brakes
Photo ©: Chris Henry

Yellow jersey defender

With components painted in French champion tricolour, this Time VXRS is more likely to be remembered as the bike that Thomas Voeckler used to doggedly defend the yellow jersey for ten days of the 2004 Tour de France. Chris Henry and John Stevenson wonder where the 'du temperment' canister mounts.

Even if this year's Tour de France goes down in history as the one where Lance Armstrong notched up six victories, it will be remembered for something else too - the way young French rider Thomas Voeckler got into a break on stage 5, rode into the yellow jersey in a stroke of luck that surprised even him, and then defended it for the next ten days.

Everyone - including Voeckler himself - expected the jersey to move on when the race hit the mountains. But in an outstanding display of tenacity, and aided by the selfless teamwork of his Brioches La Boulangère team, which some days resembled a Francophone, red-and-white version of US Postal as they guarded their man, Voeckler battled against the gradients and the fast men of the mountains to hang on to the coveted jersey. On the brutal thirteenth stage of the race, Voeckler was dropped again and again by the group containing the race's big players, including Lance Armstrong, and again and again he fought to recover the leaders on the descents, finally exhausting himself to limit his losses on the final climb.

The bike that has carried Thomas Voeckler on this historic adventure is this Time VXRS, the top-of-the-line frame from the famous French pedal and frame manufacturer.

Time sells the VXRS as a 'module' - a sort of extended frameset that includes fork, stem, and seatpost, and that's what's at the heart of Voeckler's bike. In fact you can't really avoid taking the seatpost as part of the package because it's an integral part of the frame. As with Giant's new TCR Advanced, the seat tube extends above the top tube/seat tube join - only a short stub of seatpost sits inside the frame.

Voeckler rides a 51cm frame, which with the sloping geometry is the equivalent of a conventional 55cm. His mechanics tell us that in the pictured trim, the bike weighs 7.6kg, but swapping lighter wheels and a few other parts for the mountains brings it down to 6.9kg.

Voeckler and Brioches La Boulangère's running gear is a mixed bag. Campagnolo handles the shifting with its Record carbon brake/shift levers, and front and rear derailleurs. At the business end of the brake system, though, we find a piece of equipment that's still fairly rare even in the pro peloton - Mavic brakes.

Another unusual name provides the front of Voeckler's transmission, a Stronglight Pulsion crank in 172.5mm length. Stronglight's cranks used to be hugely popular, especially among bike tourists, and the company has a claim to having introduced the square taper design that is still used by many manufacturers to mount cranks on bottom bracket axles. They became scarce in the 90s but the company is now owned by Zefal and is making a comeback with a range of cranks including this one.

Where you find Mavic brakes you'd expect Mavic wheels, and that's what we find on Voeckler's machine, which was sporting Carbone SL SSCs when we stopped by. Brioches La Boulangère is sponsored by Michelin, so the team's wheels are clincher-shod, and the baker boys have been using Michelin's new tubeless clinchers in the mountain stages of this Tour. Tyre choice has mostly been Pro Race Lights, with pro Grips for rainy days.


Images by Chris Henry/Cyclingnews

Full specification

Frame: Time VXRS carbon fiber, 51cm
Fork: Tine carbon fiber
Colour: Black

Cranks: Stronglight Pulsion carbon 172.5mm/53x39
Bottom bracket: Stronglight
Chain: Campagnolo
Front derailleur: Campagnolo Record carbon
Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Record carbon
Brakes: Mavic
Levers: Campagnolo Record carbon
Rear sprockets: Campagnolo Record 11-23


Wheels: Mavic (various used; Cosmic Carbone SL shown)
Tyres: Michelin clinchers

Stem: Time Monolink 105mm
Bars: Deda Newton, 42cm

Pedals: Time Impact
Seat post: Time
Saddle: Selle San Marco

Weight: 6.9-7.6kg