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Pro Bikes, July 19, 2007

Michael Rasmussen's Rabobank Colnago Extreme-C

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James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

The Chicken soars in France

By James Huang

The Era Composite uses a full carbon fiber base.
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The rear rim includes an offset spoke bed.
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The rear hub includes a titanium freehub body.
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The Extreme-C foregoes the C50's four-lobed
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…in favor of lighter round tubes for the main triangle.
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Colnago's Star Carbon fork graces the front end
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The bottom bracket shell
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Integrated handlebars are not everyone's preference
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Danish Rabobank rider Michael Rasmussen is having what is perhaps the best Tour de France of his career. After breaking away early in Stage 8, the two-time maillot à pois rouges winner shed his companions with 18km remaining and rode alone into the finish at Tignes to take the victory for the day as well as his first maillot jaune.

'The Chicken from Tølløse' had previously won two mountain stages, first in Mulhouse two years ago, and then at La Toussuire in 2006. As one of the ProTour's most renowned climbing specialists, Rasmussen is likely more aware than most of the key to victory in the big mountains: maximizing power-to-weight ratio. Rasmussen certainly pays plenty of attention to the first half of that equation but is decidedly better known for his passionate fervor about the second half. Rasmussen himself stands 1.75m tall (5'9") but weighs just 60kg (132lb).

The former mountain bike world champion is equally driven to shave every allowable gram from his climbing machines and the Colnago Extreme-C he has used thus far adheres tightly to that edict. Framebuilding legend Ernesto Colnago first developed the Extreme-C specifically for the Rabobank team for the 2004 TdF as a purpose-built tool for the l'Alpe D'Huez time trial, but Rasmussen was so taken by its overall abilities that he has used it ever since.

The Extreme-C is a full-carbon tube-and-lug frame like Colnago's more all-purpose C50 but substitutes that model's trademark four-lobed main tubes and unique HP chain stays for more conventional (and lighter) round tubes and oversized rear stays. Frame weights are claimed to be sub-1kg for a "medium sloping size", but Rasmussen's larger non-sloping frame is likely to be just slightly heavier.

Note earlier that we mentioned that Rasmussen shaves every allowable gram from his bike, not every possible gram. While his complete Extreme-C could easily be lighter, Rasmussen is unfortunately limited to the 6.8kg minimum set by the UCI which is now rather easily attained. Gone are the days of fitting titanium hardware kits, but Rasmussen definitely makes sure that his bike pegs that figure just so when the race heads skywards.

Much of his equipment and componentry is decidedly standard, including the stock Shimano Dura-Ace group, but there are still a few standouts. Rabobank claims that Rasmussen's Extreme-C is a standard Colnago frame, but notably absent is a second water bottle mount (Rasmussen is never seen with more than one bottle; two would be too heavy!). Naturally, the Chicken apparently relies on his team radio to supply distance and speed information as he runs without a computer of any sort.

His Extreme-C is also fitted with a prototype carbon fiber integrated handlebar and stem from team sponsor PRO, a now-discontinued (and ultralight) Selle San Marco Era composite saddle, and a pair of custom wheels built with standard Dura-Ace hubs and relatively shallow Shimano carbon fiber tubular rims. As seen here, Rasmussen's bike is actually just a hair 'heavy' at 6.9kg, but Rabobank mechanics had yet to fit the Dane's special climbing wheels, which are also built using Shimano components but 100g lighter to bring the total weight to "exactly 6.8kg." Somewhat surprisingly, Rasmussen makes no other equipment changes for the key mountain stages.

Rasmussen may be limited to what he can do weight-wise (much to his dismay, no doubt), but he at least makes sure that he rolls as quickly and efficiently as possible. The front and rear hubs, bottom bracket, derailleur pulleys, and even pedal spindles are fully equipped with state-of-the-art SiN ceramic ball bearings supplied by CeramicSpeed.

So far, Rasmussen has comfortably held the general classification lead through Stage 11 but if last year was any indication, the upcoming 54km individual time trial on Saturday is likely to shake things up a bit. Either way, this year's TdF is shaping up nicely for Rasmussen so far, and it will certainly be exciting to see just how long he can hang on.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: Colnago Extreme-C
Fork: Colnago Star Carbon

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.75m (5'9") ; Weight: 60kg (132lb)
Seat tube length, c-c: 538mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 580mm
Top tube length: 556mm
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 764mm
Saddle nose tip to C of bars: 583mm
C of front hub to top of bars: 558mm

Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace FC-7800
Shimano Dura-Ace FC-7800, 175mm, 39/53T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7801
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace FD-7800
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace FD-7800-SS
Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7800
Levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7800
Rear sprockets: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7800, 11-23T


Wheelset: Custom Shimano carbon tubular, offset rear spoke bed
Front hub: Shimano Dura-Ace HB-7800, 16H
Rear hub:
Shimano Dura-Ace FH-7800, 20H
Sapim CX-Ray
Vittoria Corsa CX tubular, 21c

Bars: PRO Stealth EVO, 42cm (c-c)
Stem: PRO Stealth EVO, 120mm x -6° (c-c)
Headset: PRO RM-11
Tape/grip: Colnago Cork

Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace PD-7810
Seat post: PRO PLT 27.2mm with Miche aluminum shim
Selle San Marco Era Composite
Bottle cages: Elite Patao Carbon
Other accessories: CeramicSpeed hybrid ceramic bearings in bottom bracket, hubs, derailleur pulleys, and pedals

Total bike weight: 6.94kg (15.3lb)