By Fred Dreier
Nick Nuyens proved he could ride as a classics contender with his second-place finish at Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.
Nuyens, Cofidis’ newest strongman, bridged to a surging Juan Antonio Flecha in the final kilometers of Belgium’s most famous single-day race in an attempt to bring back Quick Step’s streaking Stijn Devolder. While Devolder took the win, Nuyens took the sprint for second, as well as his best-ever classics result.
Nuyens, who grew up in Antwerp and will turn 28 this May, is yet another rider to watch at this Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. Cofidis has outfitted its strongman with a custom TIME VXS carbon bike.
Its 54cm top tube and 50cm seat tube (center to center) is a testament to his body type. The Belgian pedals with short legs, but has a comparatively longer torso.
Nuyens’ Roubaix bike boasts a few other custom features aimed at keeping its rider comfortable on the hellacious cobblestones and free of mechanical troubles. Its wheelbase is a full two centimeters longer than his normal rig. It also boasts an extra 2.5 cm of bottom bracket clearance to accommodate the course’s rolling sections of pave, which have been known to bottom out some cars. Added clearance is also found in the bike’s rear triangle, including wider gaps between the chain and seat stays.
To add strength to the front end, the bike has an aluminum steerer, instead of a carbon one.
While some teams will attack the cobbles with deeper carbon wheels, Cofidis is sticking with the traditional 32-spoke aluminum Campagnolo classic tubular wheels. The metal hoops provide added strength and race-tested reliability at Roubaix. The bumpy, unforgiving course has been known to bend and shatter rims as often as it punctures tires. A pair of chunky 24mm Vittoria Pavé tubulars finish off Nuyens’ wheelset.
A plastic chain guide will secure Nuyens’ drivetrain in place over the bouncy course. To ward off derailleur problems, Nuyens’ mechanic Mickael Houtteville has fixed the bike’s derailleur to not shift into the 21-tooth gear. Nuyens will attack Paris-Roubaix with 19-11 rear gearing, and traditional 53-39 gears up front.