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By Anthony Tan & Rob Karman
As Chris Horner returns to defend his title at the Tour of Georgia, Cyclingnews shooter Rob Karman took some snaps of the bike he hopes to ride away from Lance Armstrong on - his LeMond TÍte de Course.
If Chris Horner's bike looks a little familiar to you, that's because the defending champion of the Tour of Georgia rode an identical frame to take the inaugural edition of the race last year. The TÍte de Course also made its debut in 2003, albeit in Saturn colours, and the stars of Saturn - Horner, Tom Danielson, Nathan O'Neill and Mark McCormack - all received one apiece. Between them, this awesome foursome won just about everything worth winning on the US domestic scene in 2003, including wins at Redlands, Sea Otter, Solano, Georgia, the USPRO Champs and the San Francisco (T-Mobile) GP.
So to say that this top-of-the-line LeMond was aptly named (TÍte de Course meaning "the head of the race") by the triple Tour champion's eponymous bike company would be more than fair. It's only been recently that LeMond Racing Cycles began the morphing of titanium and steel with carbon, but this year, their five best models feature a blend of both, with the TÍte de Course and Victoire exhibiting a Reynolds 3AL/2.5V titanium 'spine' (head tube, down tube, chainstays) and an OCLV 110 carbon 'upper' (top tube, seat tube, seat stays).
Available in nine semi-compact sizes including two women's models (which feature a shorter top tube), the TÍte de Course displays geometry very much akin to many of the major Euro brands (i.e., THIS IS NOT A CRITERIUM BIKE!). To give you an example: their 55 centimetre model has a 73 degree seat tube, a 56.5cm effective top tube, a wheelbase of 98.4cm and a standover height of 77.2cm. Very road-worthy dimensions indeed.
As the top performing racer based in the US, you might expect Horner to have all the latest gear, and for the most part, he does - the latest and lightest from Bontrager, featherweight Zero Gravity Brakes (just 194 grams per pair), and Vredestein Fortezza Pro Tubulars, with custom-coloured Fi'zi:k Arione saddles coming soon. But the thing that stands out the most is the use of Dura-Ace nine-speed shifters - this can be explained by the team's sponsorship by SRAM, who has not yet make a 10-speed cassette.
It's a good thing Horner rode the same model frame last year - he only received his new bike a few days before the start of his first big race, the Redlands Bicycle Classic. "The only thing that changed was the paint color and that doesn't affect the riding much!" he said with a chuckle. By the way, he won the race, and easily, too.
Images by Rob Karman/Cyclingnews.com/www.roadbikephotos.com
Editor's note: all weights shown are manufacturers' claims
Frame: LeMond TÍte de Course
Cranks: Shimano Dura-Ace FC-7800
Rim: Bontrager Race X Lite Carbon, 570g (F), 790g (R)
Stem: Bontrager Race X Lite OS
Pedals: Shimano Dura Ace PD-7800 SPD-SL, 277g