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Pro bikes, May 23, 2007

Gilberto Simoni's Saunier Duval-Prodir Scott Addict Limited

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Photo ©: Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews.com


By Shane Stokes

SRAM's rear derailleur
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Polar supplies the bike computers
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Simoni's Addict has some distinctive touches
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The Scott integrated seatpost
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The all-carbon Mavic hub shell
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Simoni requests the older Time
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The SRAM rear brake
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Mavic's new hoops
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Given that their success depends on their ability to overcome gravity, it is perhaps unsurprising that climbers are a weight-obsessed breed. Whether is it on the bike itself or around the ribs, keeping the grams down is conducive to success.

That trait is plainly evident if you take a look at a specialised climber. As compared to your typically bigger and burlier (relatively speaking, of course) Classics rider, those who scrap it out in the Alps, Pyrenees and Dolomites are generally a slighter, skinnier, and often smaller, individual. Even with recent all-rounders such as Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich, hitting a low body fat prior to the Tour was essential for their chances.

Over the past decade or so, Saunier Duval-Prodir rider Gilberto Simoni has become known as one of the best pure climbers in the sport. He won the 2001 and 2003 editions of the Giro d'Italia, finished second in 2005 and took third behind compatriot Ivan Basso last year (although that win is now tarnished by doubts surrounding his involvement in Operación Puerto). Simoni was also third in 1999, 2000 and 2004, making him one of the most successful Giro competitors in recent history. This year's running will perhaps see the 35-year-old rider from Palù di Giovo for the last time in his career, although it is believed that he might make a final appearance in 2008 prior to concentrating fully on mountain bike competition.

Simoni made headlines in the 2003 Tour de France while with the Saeco team when he was forced to add a series of weights to the top tube of his then-Cannondale in order to meet the UCI's weight limit of 6.8 kilos. Simoni has changed teams twice since then, and his new Saunier Duval-Prodir team has definitedly facilitated his gram-shaving habits thanks to the efforts of current bicycle sponsor Scott USA.

Back in 2003 the American manufacturer released its groundbreaking CR1, then billed as the lightest frame on the market at just 895g. For 2007, Scott has now gone even lighter with the new Addict platform which is claimed to weight as little as 790g for a bare frame in SL guise (which utilizes press-fit bottom bracket cups in lieu of a conventionally threaded shell). Much of the credit for the weight savings goes to the company's new Integrated Molding Process (IMP) technique, the use of carbon fiber for the dropouts, housing stops, and front derailleur mount, and the elimination of the largely cosmetic outer layer of carbon. When combined with the matching 330g IMP fork, the consumer version of Simoni's integrated seatpost-equipped Addict Limited machine weighs just 5.9kg.

That, of course, doesn't really fit in with the UCI's way of doing things. That UCI weight mandate was originally conceived as an indirect means of maintaining adequate equipment safety standards in the peloton, but Scott has long argued that specific strength and impact tests should be done instead of simply having an arbitrary figure that bikes must meet or exceed. The company's legitimate contention is that if a frame is designed with the proper engineering expertise, uses the right materials and processes, and is constructed with the proper skill, then a complete bike can fall well below 6.8kg while still remaining safe for the riders.

Weight contentions aside, Scott provided Simoni with a special machine for this year's Giro Like the bike of fellow climber Leonardo Piepoli, it has been given a custom paintjob, which in this case comprises a white overall theme with black lettering along with a black and pink Spiderman-inspired design. Why the superhero references, you ask? Naturally, the first priority was to provide Simoni with a unique looking steed for his trademark event, but the webbed crawler theme is also intended to draw a direct comparison to Simoni's special climbing gift. [We suspect that may have been dreamed up over a drink or six.]

As is the case with all of the Saunier Duval-Prodir bikes, Simoni's Addict is kitted out with SRAM's recently introduced Force groupset. On par weight-wise with Campagnolo Record but lighter than Dura-Ace, the gruppo has been well received with the team. SRAM has also been reported to have a new ultra-premium level road group in development called Red, and as the company's only ProTour squad, the riders have clearly been tapped to provide feedback on its development. Whether by intention or by accident, Simoni's bike was spotted at the Giro with what appeared to be a prototype set of Red shifters. As compared to Force, shift lever travel has been altered for quicker gear changes and the shift paddle itself bore a new shape. In addition, it was also hewn in carbon fiber instead of magnesium. Otherwise, 'Gibo' appeared to be running identical componentry to what can be bought by consumers.

For rolling stock, Simoni uses Mavic's new ultralight Cosmic Carbone Ultimate, which was unveiled earlier this year at the team training camp in Majorca, wrapped with tubular tyres branded simply as 'Hutchinson'. On the day we profiled it, Simoni's bike featured an 11-23T cassette matched to a SRAM Force chainset with 52/40T Stronglight Ceramic Teflon Treatment chainrings. As testament to the occasional choosiness of top pros, Simoni's pedal of choice is an older generation of Time's Impact Mag Ti model but with a custom carbon fiber plate installed. Team sponsor Ritchey provides the WCS seatpost head, integrated headset, and aluminum Pro Biomax handlebars. As the main pro rider involved with its development, Simoni naturally uses fi'zi:k's Arione saddle, covered in white and pink to match the frameset.

So, being one of the stars of the team, does Simoni have any special requirements? "He doesn't want anything in particular," answered mechanic Daniele Nieri. "He uses the older Time pedals but apart from that, it's the standard team bike. The only difference is the paintjob."

In regards to the overall weight of the machine, we were assured it was 6.9kg, which was somewhat surprising given the extra unnecessary 100g. Unfortunately, the mechanic was keen to put it back on the roof of the car and head off for the start of the Giro stage that morning; alas, no time to whip out the bike scale. However, a conversation with another team mechanic led to assurances that weights are added to the bike to bring it up to the stipulated limit. He wouldn't reveal what it would clock in at without this measure, though, but let's surmise that it would not be UCI-legal.

According to Nieri, the Giro will be Simoni's only Grand Tour of the year. "He won't do the Tour [de France] this season. After the Giro he will be concentrating on the mountain bike, although he is likely to do the Giro one more time next year."


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Images by Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: Scott Addict HMX IMP with integrated carbon seatpost, carbon dropouts and front derailleur mount
Fork: Scott Addict IMP with integrated carbon dropouts

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.7m (5' 7") ; Weight: 62kg (137lb)
Seat tube length, c-c: 465mm
Top tube length: 535 (horizontal)
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 715mm
Saddle nose tip to C of bars: 520mm
C of front hub to top of bars: 525mm

Bottom bracket: SRAM Force GXP
SRAM Force with Stronglight Ceramic Teflon Treatment chainrings, 52/40T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7801
Front derailleur: SRAM Force
Rear derailleur: SRAM Force
Front brake: SRAM Force
Rear brake: SRAM Force
Levers: SRAM Red prototype
Rear sprockets: SRAM Force 11-23T


Wheelset: Mavic Cosmic Carbone Ultimate
Tyres: Hutchinson tubular

Bars: Ritchey Pro Biomax II shallow drop
Stem: Ritchey WCS 4-Axis
Headset: Ritchey WCS Press Fit
Tape/grip: fi'zi:k bar:tape

Pedals: Time Impact Mag Ti with custom carbon fiber plates
Seat post: Ritchey WCS Stubby Single-Bolt Seatpost (SBSP)
Saddle: fi'zi:k Arione Wing Flex
Bottle cages: Elite Macia
Computer: Polar CS400

Total bike weight: 6.9kg (15.2lb)