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By Anthony Tan
One of the most delicious things you'll see in the pro peloton this year is Jose Antonio Pecharroman's Time VX R Carbon. 2004 marks the first year last year's winner of the Volta a Catalunya and Euskal Bizikleta will be riding on Time (no pun intended), Pecharroman signing with Quick.Step-Davitamon for two years to fulfill DS Patrick Lefevre's lusty stage race ambitions, along with Richard Virenque and future Tour hopeful Michael Rogers.
For those who don't know, Belgian superteam Quick.Step-Davitamon was formed after the untimely death two years ago of cycling's super-squadra of the 1990s, Mapei-Quick.Step. Mapei boss, Georgio Squinzi, was not only a multi-millionaire, but a bona fide cycling nut, and riders, managers, doctors and soigneurs all benefited as a result. With a mentality that only the best will do, Mapei's riders had their own cycling-specific testing centre, team cars and buses kitted to the nines, the finest clothing, and arguably the most desirable bicycle, that being the Colnago C-40.
So far, Quick.Step-Davitamon has managed to retain much of that über-team aura minus the internal rivalry that prevented even greater success for Mapei. The Time VX R is part of the reason.
Based in Varennes-Vauzelles, a stone's throw away from the town of Nevers in central France, Time first became known after introducing clipless pedals to the peloton in the late '80s and early '90s, and was known later for their range of carbon forks and frames. Although the first version of the Time VX R was used by Division II outfit Bonjour in 2002, it was their sponsorship of Quick.Step-Davitamon one year later that firmly placed the machine on every bike geek's "most wanted" list.
Like all riders on the team, Pecharroman's 2004 semi-compact Time VX is made just for Pecharroman and only for Pecharroman. While in Adelaide for the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, wrencher Bart Leysen, one of five mechanics on the team, told Cyclingnews that changes between this and last year's model are subtle yet significant.
"Last year, our carbon bikes used aluminium lugs, but this year, everything is carbon except for the bottom bracket, which is aluminium," said Leysen, a former top pro himself with Palmans-Collstrop, Mapei and Lotto. "This (points to the aluminium lug) allows us to use custom frame geometry, but still keep the benefits of a full carbon bike."
The rest, can be summarised as a combination of weight-watching but by no means strength-sapping parts and accessories. Part of Campagnolo's Record group is substituted with FSA's 505 gram Carbon Superlight cranks, 215 gram Ultimax Carbon Ti bottom bracket and Mavic's ultra-light (314 gram) R3 concept brakes. Mavic come into the fold once (or should that be twice?) more with their Ksyrium SSC SL clincher hoops, however, Leysen said that for most European races, tubulars are the preferred choice.
Completing the cacophony of carbon are two more tidbits from Time: in the blue corner, weighing in at a slender 124 grams, we have Time's Monolink HM stem, and in the red corner, slightly taller but slightly heavier at 175 grams, we have the Time Carbon Spirit seatpin, where Pecharroman is perched high above on Selle San Marco's Concor Light saddle - which just happens to be Lance's fav too.
Images by Mark Gunter/Cyclingnews/www.pbase.com/gunterphotograph
Frame: Time VX R Carbon, 1400g (excl. fork)
Cranks: FSA Carbon Superlight, European graphics, 53/39, 505g
Rim: Mavic Ksyrium SSC SL clincher, 690g (F), 840g (R)
Stem: Time Monolink Special Pro HM, 31.7mm, 124g
Pedals: Time Impact-Mag-Ti, 240g per pair