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By Lennard Zinn
After the 60.6km individual time trial (ITT) on the extremely challenging course above the Cinque Terre last week, the 14.4km ITT in downtown Rome this Sunday will be a walk in the park – or a ride in a museum.
But while it won’t be a climbing, swooping and winding roller coaster ride like the course to Riomaggiore, this one will be spectacular in its own way.
The riders will start between the Roman Forum and the Monument of Victor Emmanuel II, go under the Quirinal Palace – residence of popes, kings and now presidents, pass the Villa Borghese, twice cross the Tiber River and the Piazza del Popolo, turning around in front of the Vatican between passes, go through the Piazza Venezia, past Trajan’s Column, passing once again the Monument of Victor Emmanuel II, before a straight stretch from 2km to go to 1km to go on the other side of the Palatine Hill from the Roman Forum along the Circus Maximus – probably going even faster than the chariots did there in the days of Caesar Augustus. Finally, they circumnavigate the Colosseum, to finish adjacent the crumbling edifice.
It will be a quick 15-20-minute tour of many of Rome’s most famous monuments, and, unlike the Sestri Levante-Riomaggiore ITT, it will be contested most certainly on time trial bikes, with every bit of aero equipment the UCI commissaires will allow.
Liquigas Given the innumerable turns in the course, Ivan Basso’s third Vision brake lever attached to his aero bars — a carryover from his days with CSC — could come in very handy on his Cannondale Slice Hi-Mod to allow a little speed modulation when zooming around the (sometimes cobbled) edges of piazzas without coming out of the aero position.
Basso’s TT rig also has an aero crank branded Vision TriMax Carbon, which is a BB30 version of the same FSA NeoPro aero crank that Fabian Cancellara won on so often on when he was riding a Cervelo. (Now, of course, Spartacus is on a different steed.)
Basso’s frame also has a lighter custom layup, so the rider from Varese can accelerate faster out of the frequent corners on Sunday, and Mavic says the 5-spoke Io front wheel with carbon hub (and speed sensor magnet glued to it) and disc rear wheels have also been lightened up. In a deviation from the lightweight theme, Basso has a long, steel, chain-retention device attached to the front derailleur mounting bolt. The team’s SuperSix road bikes are also equipped with the device.
As is the case with all TT bikes of Campy-sponsored teams, Basso’s doesn’t go to 11, because Campagnolo still only has a 10-speed bar-end shifter. Interestingly, though, Basso does run a Dura-Ace chain on it.
Lampre Damiano Cunego and Marzio Bruseghin of Lampre are also running a third brake lever on their Wilier Cento Cronos, but they are too far down overall at this point for it to matter, even with Cunego’s special paint job. And Bruss’s fans from up north with their donkey-ear hats (because Bruseghin raises the animals and has the nickname “asino”) will probably not be making the trek to Rome.
Columbia-Highroad Michael Rogers no longer has hopes of winning the Giro, but he probably does hope for victory in the final time trial – a perfect bookend to the Columbia-Highroad TTT win on stage 1. You’ve seen the new Scott Plasma TT bike that Rogers rode in the TTT, but the rest of his team rode Giant TT bikes (branded “Highroad”). Those bikes are the same as the ones used by Denis Menchov and the rest of his Rabobank team.
Bbox With a prosthetic-like aero bar, it’s hard to tell where a Bbox rider ends and his bike begins.
Barloworld Juan Mauricio Soler is out of the Giro, which may be a relief to the tall rider in the time trial, since it appears that every one of Barloworld’s Bianchi TT bikes is the exact same size. Tall riders like Soler get a huge stack of spacers to ease their discomfort.
Cervelo Of course, you can look for Cervelo’s Ignatas Konovalovas to be rockin’ the P4, probably without its integrated water bottle for fear of UCI reprisal.
Milram Milram will likely use the Lightweight tension discs on that we saw in the TTT.
ISD Look for ISD riders to once again be sporting the Vision Trimax Ul wheels, which they used to turn a fine fifth place in the TTT . It’s the Ultimate wheel for FSA’s new Vision range, handbuilt with Sapim aero spokes onto hubs sporting six ceramic cartridge bearings and deep carbon rims with CNC-machined braking surfaces. Vision wheels are a new range for FSA.
Astana And last, but certainly not least, the way Lance Armstrong is coming on, he has to be taken into consideration as a possible TT winner Sunday. You can be sure that he will be riding a bike with a very cool paint job and a great story behind it.