Lance Armstrong's US Postal Trek 5900

Featherweight speed
Photo ©: Cyclingnews/Tim Maloney

Milan-San Remo machine

US Postal mechanic Jean-Marc Vandenberghe talks about working with Lance and the team

By Tim Maloney

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Bike & mechanic
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To get the low-down on Lance Armstrong's rig, we caught up with his mechanic Jean-Marc Vandenberghe as the team were preparing the day before Milan-San Remo. Jean-Marc is from Moorslede, in the heart of the bike-mad Flanders region of Belgiium. He's married and has a 21 year old son.

Cyclingnews: Isn't Vandenberghe kind of a famous name in Belgian cycling?

Jean-Marc Vandenberghe: Not because of me! There was a Belgian pro rider who had the Yellow jersey in 1968 so that's why.

CN: This is your second year as a team wrench with the USPS squad?

JMV: Yes; before that I was 9 years with Telekom

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Hutch rubber
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CN: So you were the mechanic for Jan Ullrich?

JMV: Yes but not only for him; also for Erik Zabel and Bjarne Riis, in all the Tours and the classics.

CN: How would you compare Ullrich with Armstrong?

JMV: Well I would say that the biggest difference is that Lance is really more professional; all year round, even in the winter.

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Photo: © CN/Tim Maloney

Sure, Ullrich is a very good rider but he doesn't seem to have the drive to focus all year 'round on his bike. Even when Lance isn't racing, he's still working to improve his bike position and technical factors twelve months a year.

CN: What about the actual way they have you set up the bike?

JMV: Not really; both teams had the best material, the best equipment but for example, Lance prepares better for the Tour De France than Ullrich. Already 5 or 6 weeks before the Tour, he is ready with what he wants; all his bikes, his time trial bikes and special wheels. I know what he wants for the Tour and we are all ready to go well before. That's the way I like to work.

CN: So there is little room for improvisation or last minute changes?

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Photo: © CN/Tim Maloney

JMV: No, never! And even if Lance wants to make change before a race, he calls or sends an email and says "Look Jean-Marc, I'd like to change that, or this, what do you think?" That's great; he's always open to suggestions and you can work with him and talk about these things.

CN: Can you tell us about Lance's new race bike for 2002?

JMV: Yes, this is his Trek 5900; it has the same frame as he used in the hills last year. For Milano-San Remo which is a fast race on good roads, we chose the light bike for this race. It's almost 1kg lighter than the regular bike.

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Measuring up
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CN: Which bike will Lance use in the Classics?

JMV: Lance will ride a Trek 5500. With the cobbles and the bad roads in the classics you need more stability so he'll use that slightly heavier bike.

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New hoops
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CN: Can you tell us about the wheels?

JMV: These are the new Bontrager (Race X-lite) wheels. Lance will use these this year in most races. Bontrager is a product from Trek and we tested these new wheels for quite a while since before the training camp and they are very good.

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New pedal
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CN: What are these new pedals? What happened to Lance's legendary Shimano 7400 pedals?

JMV: We have to thank Shimano for the good work they did to develop these. Last year, Lance and I had a good laugh because he asked me "what can I change to make my bike lighter?" and I said, "change these old and very heavy pedals, man!" But Lance had been using these type of pedals for 15 years and said "I don't want to change now!" I asked him what if Shimano came up with a new, light product that worked the same, and they did. These are 240 grams lighter than the old (Shimano 7400) pedals. Lance has been using these since last November and by this time, almost half of the team is using the new Shimano pedal.

CN: I also notice that Lance is using the non-anatomic handlebars. Why does he prefer these?

JMV: The hook in the anatomic bars is bigger while the non-anatomic bars have a smaller turn so when the rider is in the hooks, he is a little bit higher and he prefers this.

CN: What about the other riders on the team? Are there any who have an unorthodox set-up or approach?

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Front end loader
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JMV: They are all OK in this regard. We can set up everyone at the training camps; Trek has a standard bike size and then we might change something like a saddle or a handlebar but that's normal. we don't have any extreme guys on the team in terms of bike set-up. Some guys just get on the bike and ride; they don't know their set-back or even how to measure it. But that's our job anyway; to fit the race bike and make sure the training bike and the spare bike are the same position. We have a book where for each rider we have all the technical information; his position, his equipment and there are copies in the team trucks and the service course so we always have this at hand.

CN: Jean-Marc, what would you like to see for the 2002 season at USPS?

JMV: Of course, the whole team is focused on the Tour De France so we have to be ready with the riders' condition and all of our material for the Tour. We also hope to see some good Classics performances from George Hincapie.

CN: You must like the Classics because you can stay at home sometimes when you are there.

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Three-cornered discussion
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JMV: Even that! I'm on the road 200 days a year with the riders, but I can tell you that the time goes fast and it's a very, very, very nice job. I like it !

Jean-Marc had to attend to a more important matter than blabbing with Cyclingnews as Lance Armstrong had arrived and wanted to check out his new race bike with his trusted Belgian mechanic.

Bid for a Trek used in the Nike TV ad

Fancy owning one of Lance's bikes and contributing to an extremely worthy cause? Click here for the Nike Cycling auction of one of the bikes used in Nike's 'Enjoy the weather' ads. Proceeds go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation for cancer sufferers and survivors.

Full specification

Frame: Trek 5900 Superlight
Fork: Trek OCLV Superlight
Colour: US Postal grey/silver

Cranks: Shimano Dura-Ace 53/39
Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace
Brakes & levers: Shimano Dura-Ace
Rear sprockets: Shimano Dura-Ace 11-21


Wheels: Bontrager Race X-Lite
Spokes: Bontrager
Rim: Bontrager
Skewers: Bontrager
Tires: Hutchinson tubulars

Stem: Deda Newton
Bar: Deda Newton
Tape: Deda
Head set: Cane Creek Integrated

Pedals: Shimano prototype
Seat post: Shimano Dura-Ace
Saddle: Selle San Marco Concor Lite
Computer: Vetta

More information: Cyclingnews teams database, US Postal team's website, Trek's website

Rider details

                   Frame   Crank   Saddle       Bar            Bar     Stem
                   size    length  model        shape          width   length
Lance Armstrong    58cm    175mm   Concor Lite  round/shallow  44cm    130mm