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Tour Tech Talk: CSC ‘cranks’ out the SRM data aboard carbon Soloists

First, a question: Dear Lennard,What does Jens Voigt carry in his seat bag? Do any of the other TdF riders carry a seat bag?Steve C. Dear Steve,That is the transmitter that sends telemetric data live from Voigt's SRM. And yes, some of the other Tour riders are doing the same thing. Voig, Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile), Gerrit Glomser (Lampre) and Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) all have been wired for live SRM data on various stages. This is one of the (few) benefits of the UCI weight limit on bikes; since the riders can have bikes below the limit, they can add components of their choosing

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By Lennard Zinn

CSC's FSA-SRM crank

CSC’s FSA-SRM crank

Photo: Lennard Zinn

First, a question:

Dear Lennard,
What does Jens Voigt carry in his seat bag? Do any of the other TdF riders carry a seat bag?
Steve C.

Dear Steve,
That is the transmitter that sends telemetric data live from Voigt’s SRM. And yes, some of the other Tour riders are doing the same thing. Voig, Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile), Gerrit Glomser (Lampre) and Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) all have been wired for live SRM data on various stages.

This is one of the (few) benefits of the UCI weight limit on bikes; since the riders can have bikes below the limit, they can add components of their choosing – in this case, an SRM and a transmitter. SRM is working with a number of crank makers to build the system into ever-lighter and stiffer cranks. Here is a photo of the new carbon FSA with the SRM used by some CSC riders, although it is not yet available in the 177.5mm length that Voigt uses.

The riders who are only hooked up for heart rate, which you see on the OLN telecast, have just a tiny transmitter, smaller than a cell phone, although it could in some cases be mounted under the saddle as well.

SRM owner, founder and designer Ullrich Schoberer told me that live telemetric data could be found online (see www.srm.de or www.livebiodata.de/) for riders like Voigt, Kessler, Glomser and Lang, showing heart rate, power, speed and cadence on a single graph, during any stage of the Tour.

When I asked Schoberer about Voigt’s information from stage 9 (when he took the yellow jersey), he said the data file was not yet online, but was on his PC: Voigt’s average power was 340 watts, and his average on the last climb was about 410 watts.

On Tuesday, data from two Lampre cyclists will be live on the SRM website; on Wednesday, look for two from Quick Step, three from T-Mobile, two from Lampre and one from CSC.

According to Schoberer, the ARD German TV Web site is supposed to have the telemetric data for all of the riders in the Tour using it, while the T-Mobile site and the CSC site are each supposed to have it for the riders on those respective teams whose bikes are wired for SRM telemetry.

Voigt’s bike
Voigt spent stage 9 on the attack on his new Cervélo Soloist Carbon, the latest version of the bike (then aluminum) on which Tyler Hamilton won Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It has aero’-shaped tubes, and its flat, aero’ profile and aero’ seat post should provide some wind-cheating advantage to a rider who spends as much time on the front as Voigt did on Sunday.

One normally expects to pay a penalty in weight and stiffness in order to gain some aerodynamic benefit. However, Cervélo co-founder Phil White, who is traveling with the CSC team during the Tour, proudly assured me that Cervélo set out “to create a bike that offered all of the aerodynamic advantages with none of the compromises, and we did it!”

CSC’s nifty new Cervélo Soloist Carbons

Photo: Lennard Zinn

Voigt and most of the team are riding the Soloist Carbon in the Tour, but Ivan Basso chose not to get one, because he did not want to change bikes close to the Tour. But when his teammates fell in love with their bikes, he wanted one as well. Alas, now it may be too late to get one made for him, according to White.

“But the R2.5 Basso’s on is a great bike, too, and we like seeing the Soloist, R2.5 and P3 Carbons all in the race,” he said with a grin.

Starting in 2001, Cervélo initiated the FM28 project designed to create a bike as light as the R2.5 but with aerodynamics superior to the Soloist aluminum. The team tested the new bike at the 2005 Giro d’Italia. Cervélo made improvements based on feedback from the riders, who tried new versions in the Dauphiné Libéré and the Tour de Suisse. Now, they are riding the next generation at the Tour.

The top tube, since it is sloped, gets an aerodynamic improvement with airfoil shaping. The head tube is narrow (only 1mm wider than the head tube on the P3 Carbon on which David Zabriskie won the stage 1 time trial) and aero’ shaped. The bottom-bracket area has been stiffened up with increased volume in the down tube, seat tube and chain stays. The Wolf seat stays are designed for ideal aerodynamics in proximity with a spinning wheel.

Voigt’s wheels were also aerodynamic to help him cut through the air on those long pulls at the front, but they are not the high-zoot, ceramic-bearing Zipp Z4s.

“He was riding regular ZIPP 404’s right off the shelf – the same pair he has been on every day of the Tour,” said ZIPP’s Bill Vance.

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