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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Pro bikes, January 22, 2008

Pat McCarty's Slipstream/Chipotle presented by H3O Felt F1

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Photo ©: James Huang

The new machine of America's shining stars

By James Huang

Carbon fork tips match the carbon dropouts.
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Zipp carbon tubular rims
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A small detail for sure
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McCarty opts for an anatomic bend
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Team mechanic Tom Hopper is hard at work
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Just when you thought
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Slipstream/Chipotle vehicles
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The 2008 Slipstream/Chipotle powered by H3O team has quickly become one of cycling's next great hopes in the struggle to pull the sport out of its doldrums. Its star-studded roster, which now includes Magnus Backstedt, Tom Danielson, David Millar, and David Zabriskie, naturally bodes well for race results but it's the team's aggressive anti-doping stance (in both words and actions) and overall atmosphere that has the world buzzing.

"If we really want to keep doping off of this team, off of the stage, out of cycling, we have to win within the context of humanity," stressed directeur sportif Jonathan Vaughters at the team presentation this past November. "It's simply saying that some days are great, some days are not. The wins will come to this team, but when no one expects it. And when everyone thinks we'll be there, we may fail. To agree to not dope, to agree to never let that enter the context the team is to agree to fail sometimes.

"To agree to let your fans down sometimes is to agree to the fallibility of the human body... but to abide by humanity is also to go beyond anyone's dreams on the occasion, to celebrate the joy, the rarity, and the preciousness of winning when it does occur, and to celebrate with honesty. You have a choice in cycling: you can choose to turn a blind eye and cheer for glory at all costs... or you can choose to choose to cheer humanity and celebrate the rarity of victory and perfection."

Vaughters has set ambitious goals for his Pro Continental team which include ProTour status in 2009 as well as an invitation to this year's Tour de France. Instead of taking shortcuts to meet those goals, though, Vaughters has clearly pledged to go about things the hard way. The honourable strategy is surely commendable but has also already shown to be effective as Slipstream/Chipotle announced just days ago that it had been invited to compete in this year's Giro d'Italia.

Regardless of the outcome for this year's still undecided Tour de France selections, the 91st Giro d'Italia will mark a pair of Grand Tour debuts: one for the Slipstream/Chipotle team itself and one for its bike sponsor, Felt. For 2008, the team will again utilize the company's F1 and Z1 carbon frames for road events and the slippery DA for time trials.

The 2005 F1 (then known as the F1C) was Felt's first foray into the full carbon road market and although the mold for the 2008 version doesn't appear to have changed since that impressive introduction, incremental improvements have made it progressively lighter and stiffer and with a better ride quality. The lightest iteration, the F1 SL, now boasts a claimed weight of just 900g courtesy of Felt's Ultra Hybrid Carbon fiber blend and carbon dropouts yet clever details such as the internal rib that supports the chain stays and bottom bracket shell keep it out of the 'wet noodle' category.

"I think [Felt has] been great," said team mechanic Tom Hopper. "After the November camp, you know, being up at the wind tunnel with Jim [Felt], all of the feedback we were able to give him... I think they've definitely come through and made some changes and addressed some of the concerns we had with the bikes last year. They talked a lot about making the bikes overall stiffer... they've addressed that by telling us that the materials they're using, the frames themselves are stiffer. That's probably the biggest thing."

Part of that solution has been the addition of Felt's beefier F1 Sprint frameset to the team's arsenal. The F1 Sprint bears an identical outward appearance to the standard F1 SL but is reinforced with 400g of additional carbon plies to increase the stiffness to levels that even 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt supposedly finds acceptable (which is no small feat considering his 2000W peak power output). The standard F1 SL will likely still be the choice of most of the team but having the stouter F1 Sprint at the rider's disposal will only add to the team's potency when the conditions demand.

Regardless of which frame the riders choose, the equipment will remain constant throughout with most of last year's sponsors continuing their support for 2008. Team bikes are outfitted with Shimano's Dura-Ace group, Zipp wheelsets (built around PowerTap rear hubs), Vittoria tires, Oval Concepts bars, stems, and seatposts, and fi'zi:k saddles and tape. New this year, however, is a significantly bolder paint job that will be hard to miss in the peloton. Outfitted in general road race trim, the Felt F1 of "foundation guy" Pat McCarty weighs just 6.84kg (15.1lb).

The Slipstream/Chipotle riders are currently attending their early season training camp in Silver City, New Mexico, to iron out any kinks before tackling the Tour of California next month. Vaughters may not be promising much in the way of race results up front, but the right riders, equipment, and preparation mixed with a positive message will hopefully produce what everyone in the sport is hoping to see.

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: Felt F1, UHC carbon fiber, forged aluminum dropouts, 58cm
Fork: Felt 1.1, UHC carbon fiber monocoque, 1 1/8" carbon steerer

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.85m (6' 1") ; Weight: 66kg (145lb)
Seat tube length, c-c: 542mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 580mm
Top tube length: 573mm (horizontal)
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 785mm
Saddle nose tip to C of bars: 610mm
C of front hub to top of bars: 593mm

Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace SM-FC7800
Shimano Dura-Ace FC-7800, 175mm, 39/53T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7801
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace FD-7800-F
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace RD-7800-SS
Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7800
Levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7800
Rear sprockets: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7800, 11-21T


Front wheel: Zipp 404 tubular
Rear wheel: Zipp 404 tubular
Front tyre: Vittoria Corsa Evo CX tubular, 21mm
Rear tyre: Vittoria Corsa Evo CX tubular, 21mm

Bars: Oval Concepts R700 Ergo Road, 42cm (c-c)
Stem: Oval Concepts R900 RBT, 120mm x 6°
Headset: Cane Creek integrated
Tape/grip: fi'zi:k

Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace PD-7810
Seat post: Oval Concepts R900 Carbon
Saddle: fi'zi:k Arione CX

Total bike weight: 6.84kg (15.1lb)