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Pro bikes, July 27, 2008

Robbie Hunter's Barloworld Bianchi 928 Carbon T-Cube

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Photo ©: Ben Atkins

Going for the line

By James Huang

Mavic's Cosmic Carbone Ultimate
Photo ©: James Huang
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The 928 Carbon T-Cube uses dual seat stays
Photo ©: James Huang
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Shimano Dura-Ace 7800 STI Dual Control levers
Photo ©: James Huang
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Short threaded sections of spoke
Photo ©: James Huang
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The 40mm-deep all-carbon rims
Photo ©: James Huang
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Hunter has yet to win a stage in this year's Tour
Photo ©: James Huang
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Barloworld sprinter Robbie Hunter knows the taste of victory after his win in stage 11 of last year's Tour de France yet the 2008 running hasn't yet played into his hands. So far, Hunter has netted six top-fifteen finishes (including a fourth place in stage 2) but with just one potential sprint finish remaining, time is fast running out for the speedster from South Africa.

Hunter's team swapped bike sponsors last year and now finds itself aboard the familiar celeste hue of famed Italian nameplate Bianchi, which returns to the top tier of the sport after a one-year hiatus in 2007. Unlike that last year with Liquigas though, there is nary an aluminum Bianchi to be found in the field as all of the riders are now on new carbon models, Hunter included.

Bianchi actually supplies the Barloworld team two top-end carbon road frames: the 928 Carbon SL and the 928 Carbon T-Cube. While the SL is intended as more of an ultralight climbing machine, the T-Cube's stouter construction sacrifices a bit at the scale in order to get the added rigidity its star sprinter requires.

The T-Cube is built with tube-to-tube construction (Tube-To-Tube, TTT, T3… get it?) that Bianchi says allows it a bit more freedom to tune the frame characteristics. In this case, the frame is more heavily reinforced around the bottom bracket shell, chain stays and head tube. Even with the extra carbon plies though, claimed frame weight is still an admirable 1kg for a bare 55cm sample.

Team-issued Bianchis are outfitted with an amalgam of componentry mostly from Shimano, FSA, Mavic and fi'zi:k. Barloworld's bikes use 7800-series Dura-Ace componentry like many other Shimano-equipped teams but they certainly use less than usual: only the STI Dual Control levers, rear derailleur, chain and cassette bear the Shimano stamp.

FSA makes up the lion's share of the remainder, including the SL-K dual-pivot brake calipers, SL-K Light crankset, Energy front derailleur, CarbonPro SL-240 CSI seatpost, OS-115 stem and Energy Ergo handlebar. Rolling gear is provided by Mavic and Vittoria in the form of speedy Cosmic Carbone Ultimate wheels and Corsa EVO-CX tubular tires and fi'zi:k provides Hunter with its comfy Aliante saddle. Helping Hunter put the power down is a set of steel-spindled Look KeO Carbon pedals.

Hunter set off on Saturday's final time trial aboard another new Bianchi, the radical-looking D2, although he had no intentions of posting any record times. No, Hunter will plan on conserving his energy for his last chance in this year's Tour.

We won't pretend to be able to predict the future but if things come down to a mass sprint when the peloton hits the hallowed streets of the Champs-Élysées in Paris but rest assured that Hunter will leave nothing out on the road in his quest for another stage win. Given the team's disastrous turn of events thus far, Hunter's arms raised in victory across the line would certainly make for at least a tiny bit of reconciliation.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: Bianchi 928 T-Cube
Fork: Bianchi FFV

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.78m (5'10"); Weight: 72kg (160lb)
Seat tube length, c-c: 470mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 520mm
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 750mm
Top tube length: 550mm
Saddle nose tip to C of bars (next to stem): 575mm
C of front wheel to top of bars (next to stem): 555mm

Brakes: FSA SL-K with Mavic carbon-specific pads made by SwissStop
Brake levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7800
Front derailleur: FSA Energy
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace RD-7800-SS
Shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7800
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7800, 11-25T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7801
Crankset: FSA SL-K Light (labeled as K-Force Light), 172.5mm, 53/39T
Bottom bracket: FSA MegaExo Ceramic


Wheel set: Mavic Cosmic Carbone Ultimate
Tyres: Vittoria Corsa EVO-CX tubular, 21mm

Bars: FSA Energy Ergo, 44cm (c-c)
Stem: FSA OS-115, 120mm x -6°
Headset: FSA Orbit CF
Tape/grip: fi'zi:k bar:tape

Pedals: Look KeO Carbon
Seat post: FSA SL-240 CSI
Saddle: fi'zi:k Aliante
Bottle cages: fi'zi:k Aliante
Computer: Elite Pase Carbon

Total bike weight: 7.27kg (16.03lb)