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By Matt Pacocha
CSC is not a Shimano-sponsored team. Instead, it buys the Shimano components it uses. You might be surprised that a team like CSC pays for its drivetrain components, but there are multiple reasons why it pays. The primary reason is because of other sponsor obligations, namely to FSA. But it has always been the team’s practice to pick and choose the parts its director Bjarne Riis feels are the best. A byproduct of not being tied to a certain manufacturer’s parts is the ability to experiment.
Just before the start of stage three in Saint-Malo, we spotted something unusual on Fabian Cancellara’s Soloist SLC-SL: a custom oversized carbon pulley cage affixed to the standard upper linkage of a 7800 Shimano Dura-Ace derailleur. The pulley cage was sourced by one of the team’s mechanics, Roger Theel, who wasn’t yet at the Tour.
Alejandro Torralbo, CSC’s head mechanic on hand at the start, was able to tell VeloNews a little bit about the experimental pulley cage and oversized pulleys. The parts are made by German Wolfgang Berner (The father of mountain bike racer Ralph Berner). It’s said to eliminate power loss in the drivetrain and has a 13-tooth upper pulley and a 15-tooth lower pulley.
Shifts are said to be faster and crisper with the large lower pulley, which require a longer chain. The team has only been using it in competition since the Tour started, and the mechanics said that Cancellara is happy to test new products that promise better performance, and obviously he wouldn’t ride it if he weren’t confident in it.
The Cervélo Soloist SLC-SL frame is the same model he’s been racing on since the start of the season. Cervélo’s co-founder Gerard Vrooman, who was at the start of Stage 1 in Brest, said that the team wouldn’t be on anything that hasn’t been seen before at this year’s Tour. He said that the brand would wait for the fall trade shows before rolling out any changes to the bikes.
Cancellara’s Cervélo Soloist SLC-SL is built out with a few other special items, though not quite as interesting as his experimental derailleur cage. For one, he forgoes the use of carbon cranks, instead opting for FSA’s hollow-forged alloy Gossamer model, with a standard 39/53-tooth chainring combination.
His cockpit is composed of 3T’s alloy Rotundo Pro handlebar and ARX Team stem. His post is the proprietary teardrop shaped carbon model that accompanies Cervélo’s frame. He rides the same shape Prologo saddle as most of his teammates, the Scratch, but his sports a world champion’s logo, including his winning time-trial time and rainbow stripes. Alpha Q’s new ultra-stiff GS-10 carbon fork complements the stiff Soloist chassis. ,
Cancellara is one of the only riders in the Tour to use Zipp’s ZedTech8 wheelset as his first choice for flat and rolling stages. The set sports rims with a 81mm section. Because of the deep rims and shorter spokes the set is both laterally and radially stiff. For most riders the radial stiffness of the set is too much for the longer stages.
During the Tour it will be worth checking out SRM’s Web site — to view the power output of Cancellara’s rides. If everything goes according to plan, the data will be presented in real-time during each stage, then the data will be downloaded for further analysis, which will be presented in a recap also available on the site.
Last year at the Tour’s prologue in London Cancellara sustained a wattage over 550 watts for the entire five kilometers.