ETNA, Italy (VN) – Alberto Contador proved he’s the man to beat on Sunday’s extraordinary moonscape climb up Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. He did so after a planned bike swap. SRAM representatives later told VeloNews that the bike swap was planned, but they wouldn’t tell us why. The bikes appeared identical except for the cable housing color.
Regardless, VeloNews caught up with Bike #1 before the stage to Etna for a closer look at the bike seems likely to win this year’s Giro.
Contador rode for Specialized last year as well, only he did so for his old Astana squad. Some of the small details on his bike have remained the same, pointing to a few personal preferences, but a few of the small mechanical and aesthetic touches used on his Astana SL3 last year are gone.
The oversized Berner pulleys are gone, replaced with standard SRAM pulleys on his yellow-accented Tour edition Red rear derailleur. Also gone are last year’s Look Keo Blade pedals, replaced with Speedplays.
The “Pistolero” motif is more subdued, losing the giant pointed finger solute at the head tube in favor of smaller matte-on-glossy hand pistols within the Specialized logos and on a strip down the top tube.
Sticking around are those Alligator I-Link cable housings, even though Contador is the only Saxo rider that is using them at this year’s Giro. The I-Links are known to provide crisper shifting thanks to their compressionless design, which fits a series small aluminum cones together in a row (similar to Nokon, for those familiar). Contador is still on an FSA K-Force cockpit and seatpost as well.
The rest of the bike appears relatively standard, and Contador’s mechanics weren’t about to divulge any little changes they had hidden away.
The components are SRAM, and all in the yellow Tour de France colors. A Specialized SRM crank measures the Spaniard’s power, though the chainrings are off a SRAM Red crank. Unlike last year, the front derailleur cage has been swapped for steel (rather than the Ti normally used on Red).
Wheels are Zipp 202’s, as they were for Saturday’s stage, glued up with Veloflex Record tubulars.