By Matt Pacocha
On the eve of this race’s final test, the 53-kilometer time trial from Cérilly to Saint-Amand-Montrond, CSC-Saxo Bank’s Carlos Sastre leads Frank Schleck by 1:24, with another 9 seconds to Bernard Kohl and — perhaps most ominously — 1:34 to Cadel Evans, who sits fourth.
In this Tour’s first time trial, a super-flat 29.5-kilometer race circumventing Cholet, Sastre finished 1:16 behind Evans and four seconds in front of Kohl.
Stage 20’s time trial is more than 20k longer than the first test, ensuring that the race for the overall win will be a nail biter. Every second will count.
What’s in Team CSC’s time trial quiver?
The team has 25 Zipp 999 and Sub9 wheelsets, five ZedTech 8 wheelsets, two 1080 wheelsets. 18 Cervélo P3C time trial bikes and a dedicated truck to haul it all.
Plus, of course, special skinsuits, helmets, gloves and shoe covers.
It’s a lot of junk for an individual test of 53 kilometers. But knowing that overall victory of this three-week race hinges on an hour where every second counts, every possible step is taken to make sure that every piece of equipment is tweaked and tuned to run as quickly as possible.
There is no equipment expense too great.
CSC’s Cervélo P3C is proven fast. It has won world championships and its fair share of Tour de France stages. It spends time in the wind tunnel with its riders. In one word, it’s dialed.
Similar sentiments are echoed with Zipp’s wheels. The Sub9 and 1080 are claimed to be two of the fastest wheels in the world. Zipp says the Sub9 actually achieves negative drag. The ZedTech 8 wheels have dimpled hubs worth a few grams of drag, and ceramic bearings to roll smooth. They’re not everyday drivers; they live in CSC’s time trial-specific truck and are saved for individual tests only.
For Sastre’s bikes, the package is rounded out with FSA’s latest K-Force Light crank and ceramic bottom bracket and 3T’s 350-gram Funda fork and 850-gram Ventus LTD aero bar.
Not only does CSC have some of the industry’s fastest equipment, it tweaks it too.
CSC mechanics completely remove bearing seals from the Zipp wheels, FSA bottom bracket and Speedplay pedals. They replace the grease with oil.
The final tricks, hidden under FSA logos, are from the Spanish company Rotor. The company manufactures ovalized chainrings they say reduce the negative effects of the deadspot in a rider’s pedal stroke by reducing the effective gear between the positions 12 o’clock to 2 and 6 to 8. The Spanish rider uses Rotor’s rings on both his road bike and on his time trial bikes to produce more consistent power.
We can only wait and see if Sastre’s special chainrings, wheels, bearings and, of course, his legs are enough to protect his lead and the yellow jersey.