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Tour de France

Tour de France Tech: A look at bikes from sprinters Mark Cavendish, Tyler Farrar and Alesandro Petacchi

A close look at the fastest bikes in the peloton — those of Cavendish, Petacchi and Farrar

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2010 Tour de France Tech: Tyler Farrar's Felt
2010 Tour de France Tech: Tyler Farrar's Felt

Sunday’s stage 1 was supposed to be one for the sprinters. The course profile couldn’t have been any flatter. After the day’s break was reeled in, the teams with contenders went to the front to begin setting up their rocket men. HTC-Columbia (for Mark Cavendish), Garmin-Transitions (for Tyler Farrar), and Lampre (for Alessandro Petacchi) each had riders on the front trying to establish their leadout trains.

Unfortunately, the train cars came off the rails as the finale was marred by crashes. The expected showdown between Cavendish and Farrar never materialized and Petacchi eked out a win after avoiding the carnage.

The Tour’s top sprinters will get more opportunities on stages 4, 5, and 6. We stopped by to check out the bikes of some of the Tour’s likely sprint protagonists.

Tyler Farrar, Garmin-Transitions

Farrar rides a Felt F1 Sprint frameset dressed in a mechanical Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 group. For Sunday’s stage, he used Mavic CC80 wheels, but for Monday’s stage 2, his bike was set up with Cosmic Carbon Ultimates.

And what about that broken rear derailleur from stage 1? Looking at his bike before stage 2, you’d never know it happened.

Mechanic Kris Withington said, “We were actually quite lucky with Tyler’s bike yesterday because all he broke was the replaceable derailleur hanger off his bike. We also put on a new derailleur and a new right hand shifter, and new bar tape.”

Farrar’s bike didn’t go down in a severe crash, but team mechanics are famously thorough when it comes to keeping the bikes as perfect as possible for as long as possible. Regarding the shifter, “It hit the ground and it was a little bit dinged up. And you know, it’s Tyler Farrar, so his bike needs to be tip-top all the time,” said Withington.

Mark Cavendish, HTC-Columbia

The Manx Missile is riding Scott’s new F01 project road bike. The new aero road bike platform from Scott Bicycles was introduced on Friday before the prologue, but unfortunately Cav didn’t even get a chance to test its terminal velocity on stage 1.

As you might expect, Cavendish scored a sweet graphics scheme from his HTC-Columbia team sponsor. “He wanted a ninja theme,” said team media manager Kristy Scrymgeour. “The bike was based on the chrome color being the sword and the black being the handle of the sword.” The rear stays are black, and the front triangle of Cav’s bike is silver.

As with the other new F01 project bikes on the team, the trailing edges are red, but with Cavendish’s bike, the red integrates differently. “There are slash marks on the down tube,” said Scrymgeour, “and a design of a ninja fighter.”

His bike is spec’d as we’ve seen from years past. A mechanical Dura-Ace 7900 group, fi’zi:k saddle, Highroad-branded Zipp wheels (808 rear and 404 front for the start of stage 2). New for the Tour are the structural parts of his cockpit. They consist of a new PRO Vibe Sprint “Mark Cavendish Star Series” handlebar and stem. Cavendish is famously particular about the technical details of his bike and the bar and stem are naturally critical.

2010 Tour de France Tech: Mark Cavendish's Scott F01
2010 Tour de France Tech: Mark Cavendish's Scott F01

The stem body is unidirectional monocoque carbon fiber with an integrated CNC alloy top cap and handlebar clamp face plate. Shimano’s PRO Web site says the rigidity of this 170-gram stem is almost double that of a regular PRO Vibe 7S stem.

The bar is reinforced, internally splined alloy. According to the PRO site, adding four splines inside the already oversized top-section of the 295-gram bar increases rigidity by 9 percent over a regular PRO Vibe 7S handlebar.

The stems and handlebars are sold separately and are available now at PRO dealers.

Alessandro Petacchi, Lampre

Petacchi beat both Cavendish and Farrar for the stage 1 win on his Lampre Wilier Cento 1 Superleggera. He’s cranking out the watts on a Campagnolo Record component group with Look Keo 2Max pedals, a Selle San Marco Regal saddle, and a Ritchey stem, bar, and seatmast cap. At the start of stage 2, his bike was fitted with Fulcrum Racing Speed XLR wheels.

According to Wilier USA PR man Mark Deterline and his colleagues, Lampre riders are on stock Cento1 Superleggeras. However, many have chosen to ride a new geometry that will be available to the public in 2011 as an optional stock geometry. As you might expect for ProTour riders, the new geometry primarily shortens the head tube to accommodate more aerodynamic positioning and aggressive riding, and it lengthens the top tube. “Instead of building custom frames for Lampre riders only, we saw the potential to offer these four optional racing sizes to the public – those customers primarily interested in short, hard rides and racing,” said Deterline.  In 2011, the four race geometry sizes will be available to complement the six standard sizes of the existing Cento1 Superleggera line.

Wilier’s Cento 1 Superleggera incorporates extra Mitsubishi “60 Ton” carbon fiber to add stiffness to the frame, which is mostly made from lower modulus, 46 Ton material.

In the Superleggera version of the Cento 1, the addition of higher modulus carbon means that the frame can be built with less material than the standard Cento 1, and thus is lighter weight. The Lampre team’s Superleggera Cento 1s also benefits from lighter aluminum frame inserts and special paint to save even more weight.

Naturally Petacchi, the Lampre team’s sprinter, gets a custom paint scheme, as does GC rider Damiano Cunego.

Click here for Complete Video Coverage of 2010 Tour