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Brownie's other half
Few riders can successfully juggle both road and track racing at the highest level, yet Panaria-Margres sprinter Graeme Brown has been doing both ever since he turned professional in 2001. With equipment being all-important, Cyclingnews' Anthony Tan takes a look at how one half of him does it.
Wandering around the riders' village at the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under was anything but an eyesore. About half the teams - including Panaria-Margres - had received their new bikes, and those that hadn't were looking a little envious. Graeme Brown's 2004 Battaglin Vortex just made matters worse for the have-nots.
"This is a beautiful bike; it is very rigid, no (his hand moves from side to side in a fish-like movement)," says Panaria-Margres mechanic Saul Necini when asked what he likes best about the team's machines. (He also tells me Brownie's position on the bike is unchanged from last year, and that the sprinter prefers not to fiddle around with his position.) Immediately noticeable is the large drop from seat to bars, a product of Brown's upbringing on the track, where riders develop excellent lumbar flexibility at an early age from prolonged riding in the drops.
The more I keep looking at the new Dura-Ace group, the more it grows on me. I first thought the deep-rimmed outside chainring and the chunky hoods on the STI levers were ugly and a step back in time in terms of look and feel, but now I see a certain futuristic element to it. Like Brownie's Teschner track bike, the fiery sprinter prefers the older style SPD-R pedals that use a far smaller cleat and are closer in design to the Time's road flippers than the current SPD-SL "Lance" pedals, which bear a strong resemblance in appearance and functionality to Look's pedal and cleat design.
Inside the "cockpit", it's really no surprise to see Deda's Newton 31.8mm oversize bar and the slightly stronger Deda Magic stem on board. Sprinters need all the stiffness they can get, and with a combined weight of 397 grams, it's one super-stiff, very lightweight combination for the team pursuit world champion.
Moving to the rear, we see the morphing of carbon seat and chain stays with the aluminium main triangle, designed more for shock absorption than anything else. While on the subject of shock (or lack of it), Brownie's gone for the Selle Italia Gel Max Flite seat with gel inserts for the sit bones and groin - important for "the boys" on those five-plus hour days in the saddle. You can tell from the photos the seat has moulded nicely to the shape of Brownie's bum, increasing the comfort factor.
Finally, something very new indeed: Ambrosio's X-space carbon wheels. In prototype stage at the moment, the X-space wheels feature a 40mm deep carbon rim and oversized but very light aluminium hubs, with radial front spoking and three-cross rear rear. So far, team mechanic Saul Necini says the response has been very favourable indeed, part of which could be attributed to their enormous sex appeal. Perfect for a rider like Brownie!
Images by Mark Gunter/Cyclingnews/www.pbase.com/gunterphotograph
Shimano Dura-Ace, 53/39