Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Pro bikes, April 8, 2007

Alessandro Ballan's Lampre-Fondital Wilier Le Roi

Photo ©:Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com

Ballan's Belgian machine

By Gregor Brown

70 km of pre-Ronde training
(Click for larger image)
Ballan's machine
(Click for larger image)
Mizuno's fork with extra rake.
(Click for larger image)
36 holes in the front hub
(Click for larger image)
Wilier's logo
(Click for larger image)

Fresh off a morning training ride, Alessandro Ballan's Lampre-Fondital Wilier Le Roi was basking in the warmth of the Belgian spring sunshine. His Sigma computer read 69 kilometres (43 miles) but the Le Roi frame looked like it wanted (and was ready for) much more.

Just one day before we spotted it outside the Kennedy Hotel in Kortrijk, Belgium, Ballan's machine had delivered the 27 year-old to glory in the Three Days of De Panne where he escaped with compatriot Luca Paolini in Stage 1. Ballan used his Wilier machine to hold on for second place that day, but then took the overall win two days later, securing him as one of the favourites for Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Produced by Wilier Triestina in Rossano Veneto, just south of Bassano del Grappa, the Wilier Le Roi frame has been around a few seasons and is well respected by the boys in the Italian squad. Wilier used individual Mizuno carbon tubes and tube-to-tube construction for the Le Roi last year, but has swapped to monocoque construction for 2007. Lighter riders, like teammate Damiano Cunego, are using Wilier's new ultralight Cento model, but Ballan prefers the extra rigidity and versatility of the Le Roi which still comes in under the 1kg mark at a quoted 990g. "I am using this carbon bike and it is really light [7.2kg total - ed.]," said Ballan. "I use here on the pavé and also on normal roads throughout the year."

Ballan and team mechanic Antonio Biron made a slight change for the Belgian races. "I requested a fork that has more rake than what I usually use in the other months," Ballan continued. "It is better over the pavé because it allows for more comfort." While prepping the bikes for the following Sunday's Ronde, Biron pointed out that it is only Ballan that made the fork change; other riders were still set up with straight-bladed Mizuno carbon forks.

"The team mostly uses these three-cross wheels in training," Biron added as we looked at Ballan's wheels, which use Campagnolo Record hubs laced to tubular box-section rims. At 1.9 metres tall (6' 2"), Ballan needs a little extra strength and support when he rides, and the Italian rider runs 36 spokes up front as a result.

"For the races we will switch over to Campagnolo Proton wheels, still using tubulars with these tyres," continued Biron, referring to the team's Vittoria Pavé Evo treads. Ballan admittedly does not have that much time on those wheels, but apparently still feels confident enough to use them in key events. "I tried at Harelbeke [E3 Prijs] and I will probably use them on Sunday [for Ronde]. They work really well; they are very rigid enough for my use," summarized the 72kg (159lb) rider.

The Ronde van Vlaanderen course is littered with eighteen short and sharp pitches which will demand a lot from the rider and his machine, and Ballan tested his Le Roi on some of the same famed Hellingen (or 'climbs') that he will experience on Sunday. "Today we went to see the climbs. We did the Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg and a couple other climbs.... We took a look at the zones where we think the selection will be made."

The Kwaremont may prove particularly decisive climb at 2200 metre (1.37mi) long, 1600 metres (1mi) of which are covered with nasty Belgian cobbles. If all goes well for Ballan, it will prove to be a perfect place to see the Le Roi perform to its maximum.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: 2007 Wilier Le Roi XL
Fork: Mizuno carbon

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.90m Rider's weight: 72kg
Seat tube length, c-c: 545mm
Seat tube length, c-t:
Saddle height, from BB center to top: 820mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars:
C of front wheel to top of bars:
Top tube length:

Crankset: Campagnolo Record Ultra-Torque, 175mm, 53/39T
Chain: Campagnolo Record Ultra-Narrow
Front derailleur: Campagnolo Chorus QS 9s/10s
Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Record
Brakes: Campagnolo Record
Levers: Campagnolo Record QS Ergopower 10s
Rear sprockets: Campagnolo Record
Bottom bracket: Campagnolo Record Ultra-Torque


Wheelset: Box rims + Campagnolo hubs - 36/32 spokes F/R (Race: Campagnolo Proton Ultra tubular - 22/24 spokes F/R)
Tyres: Vittoria Pavé Evo - CG, 700x24c

Handle bars: ITM Millennium 4 Ever SO (31.8mm), 42cm (c-c)
Stem: ITM Millennium 4 Ever SO with carbon face plate, 135mm


Pedals: Look Keo Carbon
Seat post: Ritchey Pro Carbon
Saddle: fi'zi:k Arione Carbon Tubular Ti
Bottle cages: Tacx Tao
Computer: Sigma Team BC 1106

Total bike weight: 7.2kg