Ballan selected as one of seven to ride 11-speed
By Matt Pacocha
Last year the bikes Lampre riders showed up to the Tour with were well used, all looked battle worn with chipped paint and rusted bolts from the harsh weather and frequent washing by the mechanics.
This year, however, Lampre stepped up with the help of its sponsors. Wilier delivered all of the riders on Lampre’s Tour team its brand new 2009 model, the Cento Uno. Component sponsor Campagnolo sent Alessandro Ballan off as one of its early adopters of its new 11-speed Record group. A match that almost paid off as 11-speed’s first and biggest wins; Ballan was third by a hair in a three-up sprint finish on stage 11 into the town of Foix.
Wilier Cento Uno
The new Wilier Cento Uno is an impressive looking bike. It’s carbon as is commonplace for all of the Tour’s bikes these days and it incorporates a seatmast, which is also common. The new bike builds upon many of the technologies that are becoming standards for high-end pro-level bikes. And, of course, since it’s an Italian brand you can expect style to be heavily weighed as part of the overall package. Adding this new road bike to the John Cobb designed time-trial bike the team started the 2008 season with on gives the team a quiver of equipment second to none..
The original Cento was Damian Cunego’s go-to race day ride. He’s a smaller rider that puts a premium on weight versus other performance features. But the Lampre team has more than one rider and it’s made of more than just climbers. Powerful breakaway specialists like Alessandro Ballan have different on the bike needs than a rider like Cunego. The Cento Uno is the bike Wilier built to try to appease all.
Wilier builds the Cento Uno from Mitsubishi’s 46-ton carbon fiber pre-preg, a carbon that it feels is the ‘world’s strongest most resilient carbon fiber.’ Using the 46-ton prepreg, Wilier designed with the goal of more fully capitalizing on the material’s properties. Wilier integrated the rear triangle of the bike by building the chain and seatstays into a single monocoque unit. In an effort to keep pace with the industry’s most advanced bikes the chainstays are molded asymmetrically, with a repositioning of the drive-side stay that’s lower to prevent chain slap, furthermore the stay is encased in a alloy sleeve to protect the carbon within.
The Cento Uno has a seatmast, but to best service its customers and its teams’ sponsorship obligations, the mast can be simply lopped off — by a qualified mechanic — so that the frame can be used with a conventional 31.6mm seatpost. Wilier cites both consumer resale and its teams with component sponsor obligations that require the use of that manufacturer’s seatpost as the predominant reasons for the design. The hidden benefit is the attention it requires during manufacture to maintain the constant inner diameter. This attention to detail should carry throughout the manufacture of the rest of the frame. Below the top tube junction the seat tube gradually increases in diameter to maximize bottom bracket stiffness.
The seat tube terminates in a new integrated bottom bracket shell, which readily accepts Campagnolo’s Ultra-Torque bottom bracket bearings. Wilier claims that it will have adaptors for the industry’s most popular cranks available when the bike is released for retail sale this fall. The wider BB shell offers a larger, wider attachment for the down tube, seat tube and chainstays, thus increasing the claimed stiffness of the system.
The main triangle uses both material thickness, by way of size specific carbon lay-up and refined location specific shaping with the goal is maximizing the bike’s steering stiffness and stability when sprinting. The bike is finished with a 1k-carbon weave.
Despite stiffness gains that will benefit riders like Ballan, the new Cento Uno is even lighter than its predecessor, which will surely appease Cunego. The Uno has an average claimed weight of 1000-grams over its six size line; that’s almost 200 grams less than last year’s Cento if the weight of a seatpost and bottom bracket cups are factored in.
Ballan’s Campagnolo 11-speed
Ballan is one of the seven riders on in the Tour currently riding Campagnolo’s Record 11-speed group. He started on it, and has completed each stage on it, including his third place ride on stage 11. Ballan has two 11-speed bikes, and Campagnolo’s technical liaison to its teams, Bruno Telve, walked the Lampre mechanics through the intricacies of setting up the new group. That initial installation proved to be good, as Ballan has no complaints against the new components.
Team Time Trial: The Wilier Cento Crono
For the time trials, Lampre has a battery of Wilier’s Cento Crono bikes. Each rider on the team has his own Cento Crono except Cunego. It’s actually ironic that he chooses to ride an older, less aerodynamic bike, because Wilier touts Cunego as the rider who contributed the most to the development of the new Cento Crono. Wilier and Lampre, enlisted the services of the legendary aerodynamics guru, John Cobb, in 2006 to improve the star rider’s position to hopefully improve his time trialing ability.
The aerodynamic findings from those sessions in the Texas A&M low speed wind tunnel then led to the development of the Cento Crono. Cunego insists on riding the older bike simply because it’s lighter.
Cobb and Cunego’s wind tunnel efforts reaped rewards for the rider’s Lampre teammates, as they now all ride the bike that Cobb believes to be the fastest in the pro ranks. It’s built as a monocoque using a composite lay-up that Wilier breaks down exactly for consumers as 60-percent T-700SC carbon fiber, 25-percent M40J high-modulus carbon prepreg, 10-percent 60T high-strength carbon prepreg, and 5-percent Kevlar weave prepreg. The Cento Cronus is available as a 2008 model in three sizes.