Technical FAQ with Lennard Zinn: Ullrich’s superlight ride (updated text)
Jan Ullrich has done everything he can to lose weight off of his body. He and his mechanics have also gone to extraordinary lengths to take a full kilogram off of the bike he uses in the mountains. The big German also has some particular preferences about his components, and his mechanics and suppliers clearly bend over backward to accommodate them.
Ullrich’s climbing frame is a lighter version of his Pinarello Prince. It appears to have standard Prince carbon fork and seatstay wishbone, but the aluminum main tubes have thinner walls, and the down tube is smaller diameter. As his climbing style is to stay seated, the lost torsional rigidity is a non-issue for him.
Like Armstrong, Ullrich uses a down-tube front shifter to save 100 grams in parts and cable length in the mountains. He not only does not have a shifter in his left brake lever, but both levers are also completely unique. Both brake levers have Campagnolo Record carbon lever blades made for 10-speed ErgoPower, but the lever bodies are the older 8-speed ErgoPower style. The Olympic road champion prefers the shape of the 8-speed levers, the hoods of which come to a sharp point on top as opposed to the rounded knob atop the 9- and 10-speed levers. The carbon lever blades have a reverse curve near the top instead of the single continuous curve of the 8-speed blade, so they look a little odd and don’t fit quite flush against the body at their top edge. The left Ergopower shifter blade and its mechanism have been removed, while 10-speed guts have been installed in the right lever.
Ullrich’s stem looks to be 130 or 140mm long and has a long carbon shaft. There is a 3T sticker on it, yet the black aluminum clamps for the handlebar and steering tube have the Pinarello logo engraved in them. The handlebar appears to be all carbon – the exposed parts at least are, and there is no logo on it.
The Telekom team leader’s saddle is a carbon-shelled unit covered in leather in a rather crude manner. Normally, he uses a Selle Italia Turbomatic 3 Genuine Gel, but this one is called a Lightness Handmade (the Web site, www.ax-lightness.de is imprinted on its underside). In addition to the carbon shell and little or no padding, it has carbon rails with aluminum reinforcements for the clamping section.
Ullrich’s bottom bracket is a special superlight job with black cups and lightweight bolts holding on his Campy 177.5mm cranks, but I can’t tell the brand, and Telekom personnel would only say that it has a lighter titanium spindle than normal. He used a 12-21 titanium Campagnolo 10-speed cogset on the Luz Ardiden stage.
The wheels leaning against Ullrich’s bike are full-carbon rims that strongly resemble Ambrosio XCarbo rims laced radially to superlight German-made Tune hubs that have been painted black. Telekom officials are tight-lipped about the rims, as Campagnolo is the team’s sponsor, and the rims are clearly not Campagnolo. The team has been using these rims, coupled with Corima cork brake pads for the carbon braking surfaces, in all road races and time trials, but the standard ones all have black Campagnolo hubs for straight-pull spokes so they look like Campagnolo Bora wheels. The ones leaning on Ullrich’s climbing bike have thinner and lighter spokes, and, of course, the Tune hubs. The hub shells have standard flanges, and the logo is visible through the black paint.
Oh, I should say that these are actually Ullrich’s mechanic’s wheels, since when he saw me paying too much attention to them, he grabbed them and said, “These aren’t team wheels. These are my wheels. It’s best if you don’t mention them.”
Strange that he would have had time to ride them and get them so dirty during the Luz Ardiden stage and then that he would be cleaning them along with Ullrich’s climbing bike and leaning them against it afterwards. But, nothing will surprise me in this Tour. Strange that most of the bikes out that they seem to work on while there are journalists around are spare bikes with Campagnolo standard Record hubs and Barcelona rims.