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By Andrew Hood
Australia’s Michael Rogers has lurked near the top of the Giro standings all month, and currently sits seventh, just over 7 minutes behind race leader Denis Menchov. His hopes for a podium spot are over, but a top performance in Sunday’s time trial finale could help the rider leave Italy on the upswing.
For the final-hour showdown in front of the Roman coliseum, Rogers is expected to pull out an ace in the hole: the new Scott Plasma 3 time trial bike.
Rogers already rode the bike as part of Columbia-Highroad’s winning team time trial effort to open the Giro in Venice, way back on May 9.
Two bikes were debuted in the team time trial in Venice. Rogers and Mark Renshaw rode them while the remainder of the team’s frames are being built in time for July’s Tour de France.
So far, Rogers likes what he’s seen.
“I think it’s the most aerodynamic bike I’ve ever seen,” said three-time world time trial champion. “We’ve been testing the bike and putting it to its limits. The results have been fantastic.”
The bike was the fruit of an intense, months-long push by Scott to create a new time trial bike for Columbia-Highroad in time for the major tours.
Signing with the world No. 1 team is a major coup for Scott, which penned a three-year deal with the team last summer.
“Signing with Bob (Stapleton) was a big thing for us,” said Scott Montgomery, general manager and vice president of Scott USA. “In all our years of ProTour, we’ve never been with a tier-one team.”
Just as soon as ink dried on the team’s agreement, work began almost immediately on the new TT bike. Stapleton was clear; he wanted a new time trial bike.
That put Scott and its engineers under the gun to deliver a race-ready bike in less than half the time it normally takes from initial design concepts to rubber on the road.
“What was normally a two-year process turned more into eight months,” Montgomery said.
Scott’s engineering team had a head start, in part because they were able to pull together elements from the Plasma 2 and blend them with a Highroad development bike to create the new design, shaving months off of the design process.
“A lot of the engineering ideas were already finished,” Montgomery said. “We didn’t have to start from ground zero.”
Scott signed on renowned aerodynamic expert Simon Smart, who has worked with Formula 1 auto racing. Wind-tunnel testing was integrated into the design process and interchangeable, molded parts allowed 300 test runs of different combinations to find the sleekest and most efficient design.
Major changes in the Plasma 3 include a stem that is integrated into the frame, creating a level plane from the stem right across the top tube. Another design element is that the rear brake has been positioned above the chainstays and behind the bottom bracket.
Incorporated into the design process were Shimano’s Di2 electronic shifters; all cables were routed internally, allowing almost no exposed cables.
Another plus for the team is that the bike is completely compliant with new UCI rules.
Unlike some bike manufacturers, which are scrambling to create new tooling to become rule compliant, Scott engineers could work off the new so-called “3-to-1” rule at the start of the design process.
Rogers didn’t ride the Plasma 3 on the stage 12 Cinque Terre course simply because there was too much climbing, with nearly 3,000 vertical feet. But come Roma, the Plasma 3 will step back into the spotlight.