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‘Cross bikes in April
By Matt Pacocha
With weather reports calling for chances of precipitation ranging from 20- to 61-percent for Sunday’s race, Silence-Lotto isn’t taking any chances. The team’s eight Roubaix riders prerode with purpose-built X-Fire carbon cyclocross bikes on the course Thursday.
The ’cross bike is built from Ridley’s 24-ton high modulus carbon fiber and its geometry is acceptable enough for Paris-Roubaix. Plus it offers a longer, more stable wheelbase and plenty of clearance for larger tires.
In the past, Ridley-sponsored pros have used special scandium Roubaix bikes that were built with longer chainstays to offer more clearance and more vertical compliance. But this year the team wanted something in carbon. Since custom-built carbon bikes are a bit harder to come by than metal ones, Ridley looked at what in the line might work, enter the X-Fire. Its bottom bracket is slightly lower than the X-Night ’cross bike, which is positioned above the X-Fire in the line.
If the bikes are raced on Sunday, it will further bolster the model’s short, but impressive, palmares. The frame was first seen under ’cross star Niels Albert at the end of the 2006-2007 cyclocross season. He won his first race on it, the last race of the season in Vorselaar, Belgium. Albert went on to win the U23 world cyclocross championship on the bike. The model was first available to consumers in 2007. Albert also continued competing on it throughout the 2007-2008 season.
“The frame is the same as the one Niels Albert used to win the U23 world cyclocross championship, except with a special racing fork,” says Ridley owner Jochim Aerts. “With the longer wheelbase and better mud clearance, this is the perfect bike to ride fast over the cobbles. The team has been testing the bike and the feedback is 100 percent positive.”
The Silence team’s bikes differ from the ’cross model through use of a full-carbon road fork that accepts a standard road caliper brake. The fork’s graphic matches the frame. The team will ride its standard Campagnolo Record groups, Selle San Marco saddles and Oval R700 bar and stem. Because the frame only accepts cantilever brakes on the rear, Ridley also provided its 4ZA brake to the team. The wheels are built with Campy’s Record hubs, Ambrosio rims, Sapim spokes and 25c Vredestein tires.