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The perfect training partner
By Anthony Tan
Now, if you're thinking this bike looks awfully similar to last year's Lotto-Domo Merckx Team SCs, that's because it is last year's Lotto-Domo Merckx Team SC!
When Cyclingnews photographer Mark Gunter shot these at the Tour Down Under, the crew from Lotto-Domo weren't due to throw their leg over their new Merckx machines until they returned to deepest, darkest Belgium earlier this month. But since they'll be using these bikes for training throughout the course of the year - plus the fact that the 2004 model remains unchanged apart from a new paint job - we thought they were worth a closer look.
True: 29 year-old Glenn D'Hollander's Merckx Team SC isn't eye-poppingly special. Probably the first thing that grabs you is the Captain America paint scheme or the Campagnolo Bora carbon wheels. However, tough, powerful Belgian riders like D'Hollander, winner of the Tour de la Region Wallonne in 2001, don't care for flimsy, featherweight machines that can't handle the constant mud and grime that is everyday Belgium or bikes that break apart on the cobbles of Roubaix. They want a machine that resembles the type of rider they personify: solidly built, business-like, regimented, and one that goes the distance.
SC, as you may have guessed, stands for Scandium. Combined with a high-grade aluminium, Scandium is used throughout on the Team SC apart from the fork, where riders can choose from either a full carbon model or carbon with an alloy steerer tube for increased strength.
Mechanic Nick Vandercauter told Cyclingnews that while Scandium is standard issue for all, full carbon jobbies are used during the Giro d'Italia, certain World Cups and the Tour de France. "Some riders, like Serge Baguet who suffers from back problems, have found the carbon bike to be too stiff, so Serge went back to the aluminium model after last year's Tour," added Vandercauter.
Apart from Campagnolo's Record group, driving D'Hollander fast forward is another gorgeous product from the same stable: Campy's Bora G3 carbon wheelset. Featuring carbon fibre hubs, Record-level interior components, axles and a freewheel body with titanium pawl carriers, the Bora G3 is ostensibly for time trials, but deep rim wheelsets have now become commonplace in today's peloton - especially on fast, undulating parcours in races like Milano-San Remo or Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Keeping with tradition is D'Hollander's choice of Deda Newton bars and stem, the Belgian preferring the standard 26.0mm stem mated to Deda's Elementi 215 Shallow Bar (also known as "Italian Classic") - the same bar used by Lance Armstrong, with closer reach and drop than normal. The Turbomatic 4 saddle, although refined with perforated padding around the sit bones and pelvic region, is another oldie but goodie, the first of its kind seen in the pro peloton way back in the early 90s.
Images by Mark Gunter/Cyclingnews/www.pbase.com/gunterphotograph
Frame: Eddy Merckx Team SC
Cranks: Campagnolo Record, 53/39
Rim: Campagnolo Bora carbon
Stem: Deda Elementi Newton 26.0mm, 125g
Pedals: Time Impact-Mag-Ti, 240g per pair