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Pro bikes, April 11, 2009

Martijn Maaskant's Garmin-Slipstream Felt F1 Paris-Roubaix

Photo ©: James Huang

A familiar formula for Paris-Roubaix

Maaskant's special Felt F1
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)
Felt chops more off the top of the seat stay assembly
Photo ©: James Huang
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The additional clearance requires use of long-reach brake calipers,
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)
The bottom bracket area is of the usual F1 shape
Photo ©: James Huang
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The corresponding fork has slightly more rake
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

By James Huang in Gent, Belgium

At 24, Dutchman Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Slipstream p/b Chipotle) could barely have asked for a better introduction to Paris-Roubaix, finishing a remarkable fourth in just his first outing in the queen of the Classics.

Not surprisingly, Maaskant is now his team's undisputed leader for this Sunday as he attempts to place himself on the podium in '09 - ideally on the top step, accompanied by a mounted cobble.

In addition to the rider support such a position entails, Garmin-Slipstream will have at least six bikes at the ready for Maaskant to accommodate mechanical failures and at least two of those machines are dedicated Paris-Roubaix rigs specially designed to deal with the unique rigours of the day.

Team sponsor Felt has built these creations using a mix of F1 SL and F1 Sprint materials to provide both pavé-proof durability along with a reasonably comfortable rear end. The fork also uses a thicker carbon steerer tube for improved impact and fatigue resistance.

Frame weight with paint is estimated by Felt to be about 1125g while the reinforced fork adds another 375g.

If Maaskant's bike looks familiar, it should. In fact, it's identical to the one he used for last year's bid and everyone involved apparently has enough confidence in the subtle modifications Felt introduced then to use it again for another year. Tweaks include longer chain stays that are also indented at the tyre, a seat stay assembly shifted further upwards, special rear dropouts that lower the bottom bracket plus longer alloy fork tips with additional rake.

All of these substitutions yield extra tyre and brake clearance as well as a longer wheelbase and lower centre of gravity for more stable handling - all critical changes for Paris-Roubaix's anything-but-even and often dangerous road surfaces.

The legendary cobbles of the Arenberg forest are some of the most demanding of the race - not only for their roughness but also the speed at which the riders usually attack them - and they claimed a handful of the Zipp carbon rims the team ran last year.

This time around Zipp has provided Maaskant and his teammates with prototype 303 rims that are said to be much more resistant to impact damage than before, an upgrade which could make the difference in such a decisive sector.

The new rims boast a toroidal profile similar to Zipp's 1080 and are substantially wider than before - roughly 27mm at their midsection. They also sport angled braking surfaces that are said to marginally improve stopping ability. Exact strength-enhancing measures are still yet to be disclosed by Zipp but some variant of its recent Carbon Bridge technology is likely.

The rims may be new but Maaskant's componentry is not as he and the rest of Garmin-Slipstream will tackle Paris-Roubaix using previous-generation Shimano Dura-Ace groups augmented with ceramic bearings from sponsor CeramicSpeed and long-reach brake calipers.

Though marginally heavier than the latest 7900 version, the team says 7800's greater use of forged alloy construction makes it more tolerant of crashes - an inevitability at Paris-Roubaix as sure as death and taxes.

Other tweaks include flatlander gearing - Masskant will use 46/53T chainrings and an 11-21T cassette - and possibly also supplemental top-mounted brake levers to help him avoid crashes on the cobbles.

Cockpit components include a 3T bar and stem and a camouflaged Thomson layback seatpost - all in aluminum, of course - and the rest of the bike is rounded out with a fi'zi:k Nisene saddle, Arundel stainless steel bottle cages, Vittoria tubulars and a Garmin Edge 705 GPS-enabled computer.

Maaskant’s fourth-place finish at last week's Ronde van Vlaanderen proved that he's no one-trick pony and also shows that he's in form. Regardless of what the weather might bring, this Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix should prove most interesting indeed.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: Felt F1 Paris-Roubaix special, 58cm
Fork: Felt UHC-Nano 1.1 Paris-Roubaix

Critical measurements
Rider height: 1.85m (6'1")
Rider weight:
76kg (168lb)
Seat tube length, c-t:
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 788mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 612mm
C of front wheel to top of bars (next to stem): 637mm
Top tube length: 580mm

Front brake: Shimano BR-A550 w/ Corima carbon-specific pads
Rear brake: Shimano BR-A550 w/ Corima carbon-specific pads
Brake levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7800
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace FD-7800-F
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace RD-7800-SS
Shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7800
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7800, 11-21T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7801
Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace FC-7800, 172.5mm, 53/46T
Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace SM-FC7800 w/ CeramicSpeed hybrid ceramic bearings

Wheelset: Zipp 303 tubular prototype
Front tyre: Vittoria Pavé EVO-CG tubular, 27mm
Rear tyre: Vittoria Pavé EVO-CG tubular, 27mm

Bars: 3T Ergosum Pro, 42cm (c-c)
Stem: 3T ARX Team, 110mm, x -6º
Headset: Integrated
Tape/grip: fi'zi:k Dual:Tape with Bar:Gel

Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SL PD-7810
Seat post: Thomson Elite Setback
Saddle: fi'zi:k Nisene HP
Bottle cages: Arundel Stainless
Computer: Garmin Edge 705

Total bike weight: 7.52kg (16.58lb)