So far in the leadup to Paris-Roubaix, we’ve seen teams and sponsors employ a number of approaches to creating tire clearance for the sake of accommodating larger than normal tires. Many are using special forks and non-stock frames with longer chainstays. Team Milram is making it easy on their bicycle sponsor Focus by simply making the Mares cyclocross platform available to those riders that choose to use it.
“I think two or three for sure on the cyclocross bike, and if it’s bad weather then they all will ride it,” said Milram team mechanic Jochan Lamade, a few days before the race. He said his riders will have a choice between the Mares cyclocross platform, or the team’s standard Izalco bikes (probably fitted with the same forks seen at the Scheldeprijs event five days before Paris-Roubaix).
If the choice is a standard Izalco bike, the rider can expect 25c Continental tires. On the other hand, the Mares cyclocross bikes can fit special, pro only 28c Contis. Lamade said the special tires are made by Continental just for the pro teams, and feature extra puncture protection under the tread and in the sidewalls. In either case, the team will have to forgo their standard Lightweight carbon wheels and use Ambrosio rims laced to DT Swiss 240 hubs.
The Mares bikes for Milram riders are exactly the same as those offered by Focus at retail, except for threaded inserts added by the mechanics to accommodate a second bottle cage. Lamade pointed out that standard geometry on the Mares features relatively steep, road-like head and seat tube angles, but the longer wheelbase, taller head tube, and added tire clearance of the cross platform is perfect for Paris-Roubaix. He estimated a weight penalty of about 500 grams for the Mares over the Izalco.
Component sponsor SRAM supplied Red groups for the bikes with new Avid Shorty Ultimate cantilever brakes. SRAM’s Alex Wassmann noted that the brakes had been shown at Interbike 2009, but that production has been delayed until now. The brakes feature interchangeable high or low arm position (to maximize either heel clearance or power). Happily for Milram mechanics, they use standard road cartridge pads and weigh just 120 grams with straddle cable and hardware. “Stybar won worlds on a pre-production version,” said Wassmann, describing a thorough development process of almost a year.
Milram’s hope is that former winner Servais Knaven will have a good ride, and perhaps pass his extensive knowledge of this classic event to one of the team’s younger riders.