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The bikes of the Tour: Zabel's Colnago, July 4, 2006

Cyclingnews European Editor Tim Maloney gets up close with the bike that's carrying Milram's hopes of Tour glory.

Erik Zabel's Team Milram Colnago Extreme Power prototype

Erik Zabel's Colnago Extreme Power proto
(Click for larger image)

We first saw the Team Milram Colnago Extreme Power prototype the day before Milano-Sanremo in March, where Alessandro Petacchi had just taken delivery of Ernesto Colnago's newest masterpiece. Derived from the lightweight Extreme C climbing bike that Rabobank's Michael Rasmussen and Denis Menchov rode in 2005, Colnago's new Extreme Power proto combines the lightweight round tubes of the Extreme C with the leaf shaped chainstays originated for Colnago's Cristallo model and a reinforced bottom bracket for more rigidity.

The rear triangle
(Click for larger image)
The special chainstay configuration
(Click for larger image)
The round top tube
(Click for larger image)

Sprinters have traditionally valued frame rigidity over weight, as evidenced by tales of steel tubes reinforcing certain light but flexible aluminium frames of the 80s when they were used by the fast men. But carbon fiber technology is making it possible to produce bikes that are both stiff - to keep the sprinters happy in the dash for the line - and light - so they don't have to suffer too much in the mountains.

As a rider who can climb reasonably well (for a sprinter anyway) Zabel will be looking to grab some stage finish points in the less flat stages, and to stay consistent in the flat finishes if he is to have any chance of figuring in the contest for the green points jersey this year.

At almost 36 years old, and with 192 victories behind him, Zabel might yet surprise everyone by adding yet another green jersey to his collection. If he does, he'll join the elite 'seven times club'. Only two other riders have won any of the Tour jerseys seven times: Richard Virenque made it seven mountains jerseys when he won the category in 2004 and of course Lance Armstrong has seven yellow jerseys to his name.

A green jersey victory in 2006 aboard his Team Milram Colnago Extreme Power prototype would be a fitting culmination to Zabel's career, extending his existing record of six green jersey wins.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Tim Maloney/Cyclingnews

Full specification

Frame: Colnago Extreme Power carbon fibre prototype
Fork: Colnago Star Carbon full carbon fibre monocoque 1 1/8in
Headset: Colnago

C of BB to C of seat tube: 520mm
C of BB to T of seat: 750mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars: 561mm
C of front wheel to top of bars: 523mm
Top tube length: 540mm (c-c)

Cranks: Shimano Dura-Ace, 172.5mm, 39/53
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace 10-speed
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace 10-speed
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace 10-speed
Rear sprockets: Shimano Dura-Ace 10-speed, 11-21

Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace
Levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI 10-speed

Wheels: Shimano WH-7801 carbon fibre tubular
Tyres: Panaracer 22mm tubular (Veloflex)

Bar: Cinelli Neo non-anatomic, 420mm (c-c)
Stem: Cinelli Colnago, 130mm (c-c)

Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace (new prototype)

Seat post: Shimano Dura-Ace
Saddle: Selle San Marco

Bottle cages: Elite

Claimed frame weight: 1100 grams w/out fork