New team name, new bike for Cancellara
By James Huang in Kortrijk, Belgium
The down tube measures
roughly 65mm in width
Filling the shell is Specialized's
own S-Works carbon crankset.
Even with the shorter head
Specialized are sticking
to a conventional seatpost design
…and rear though each were
fitted with different pad compounds.
Saxo Bank mechanics switched
the chains on team bikes
Even with all that power,
Cancellara is happy to use Speedplay Zero Titanium pedals
Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) hasn't changed allegiances from last
year to this one in spite of a new team name, new colors and new kit.
The team is still run by Bjarne Riis and most of the old Team CSC-Saxo
Bank infrastructure is still in place but Cancellara has found himself
with a new frameset and now even a whole different set of componentry
for 2009 nonetheless.
Specialized have stepped in as the team sponsor this year and Cancellara
tackled this past Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen aboard the company's
flagship S-Works Tarmac SL2. Though obviously differing in design philosophy
from his old primary machine, the Cervélo SLC-SL, it does share some
similar cues with his old R3 cobble-fighter.
Like that R3, the Tarmac SL2's seat tube starts out round up top before
transitioning to a more rectangular profile down by the bottom bracket
and matches extra-tall and chunky chain stays to relatively slender
seat stays to provide stout drivetrain response but also good comfort
- undoubtedly a valued asset on Belgian cobbles.
The Specialized otherwise strays significantly though with a tapered
head tube that flares from a standard 1 1/8" up top to a giant 1 1/2"
at the fork crown to provide surer steering and braking. As a side benefit,
it also provides more real estate for the substantial down tube, which
measures roughly 65mm in diameter from end to end to prevent unwanted
flex. In contrast, the bowed top tube is fairly slender and flat to
allow for some counteracting vertical movement.
Down below, the bottom bracket shell is filled with integrated press-fit
bearings and Specialized's own S-Works carbon crank. Essentially identical
to the now-open BB30 standard, the larger diameter shell allows for
larger bearings for improved durability, a bigger spindle for increased
rigidity, plus more heel clearance for Cancellara's ankles.
Frame modifications specifically for 'De Ronde' were seemingly nonexistent
as Cancellara retained the stock 'Pro'-version geometry with its shorter
head tube - which is now offered to consumers after a team-only run
last season. We weren't able to check for any additional carbon plies
to further bolster the frame though given the Swiss rider's considerable
power we wouldn't be surprised. As with other ProTour-level Specialized
bikes we've seen in the past, the stock replaceable rear derailleur
hanger has been traded for a non-replaceable solid unit for snappier
Saxo Bank started out the year on Shimano Dura-Ace components but recently
made a switch to SRAM's top-end Red package including their quick-action
DoubleTap shift/brake levers, ceramic bearing-equipped rear derailleur,
ultralight PowerDome cassette and PC-1090 chain. Cancellara apparently
prefers the front derailleur from the second-tier Force group for its
stiffer steel cage, however, and after that unfortunate - and very public
- mishap on the Koppenberg, Saxo Bank mechanics were seen swapping the
team bikes to Dura-Ace 7900 chains the following Monday.
Cancellara is at least on familiar Zipp wheels this season, though
only in name in the case of their versatile 303 model. Zipp have developed
a new prototype 303 that boasts a substantially wider - about 27mm at
their midsection - toroidal profile that is said to be much more resistant
to impact and presumably more aerodynamic than before. The team-only
prototypes currently fly without Zipp's trademark dimples but production
versions will surely be equipped once they eventually hit the marketplace.
Capping off the package are Speedplay Zero Titanium pedals, a Prologo
Scratch Pro TR saddle, Veloflex tubulars (with badges conspicuously
penned over), a seatpost, stem and handlebar package from FSA, a pair
of Tacx Tao cages, and a Sigma 1106 computer.
Total weight as seen here is 7.31kg (16.12lb).
Sunday's Ronde may not have gone as expected but given his early exit
that day, Cancellara is at least rested for Gent-Wevelgem where he'll
take his Tarmac SL2 for another run at the top podium step. According
to team mechanics, Paris-Roubaix will bring a slightly modified S-Works
Roubaix SL2 to replace the Tarmac though we'll have to wait a bit to
catch a glimpse at that one. Bring on the cobbles!
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here