By Lennard Zinn
Rolf Sorensen clearly must have planned on going for it on the hilly road to Sarran, since he had pulled out his ADA wheels for the task. But the CSC-Tiscali Sorensen who was in the breakaway and ended up fourth was Nicki Sorensen.
Rolf’s ADAs look very similar to the Lightweight wheels that Armstrong used in the uphill time trial to Chamrousse and that Jalabert used on some mountain stages, but there are important differences. While both brands have carbon hub shells, the carbon-Kevlar spokes on Lightweights are flat, while those of ADAs are round and made of carbon wrapped in Kevlar sleeves. Lightweights have all-carbon rims, while ADAs have Kevlar braking surfaces on carbon rims. ADAs also have a weighted chip installed in each wheel. The chip has a dual purpose – on it is imprinted technical data about the wheel (e.g., date of manufacture, materials and sources of them, temperature and humidity during manufacture), and it is weighted to balance the wheel.
ADA’s Cees Beers claims that his Kevlar braking surfaces do not heat up and create brake-pad meltdown the way carbon braking surfaces do. However, you can see from the photo of Sorensen’s front brake that his pads melted and left pieces of pad material all over the wheel and the brake. In all fairness, though, Sorensen’s pads appear to be Shimano cork-mixture pads for carbon braking surfaces, and Beers claims that ADAs do not require special pads. Beers goes on to say, “Also, the resin compound of most carbon wheels cannot stand the heat and are melting away. Again, I must say that we do not have that problem anymore, as we use Kevlar and a different resin compound.”
Since the road to Sarran was so hilly, many riders used special lightweight equipment for climbing. But Crédit Agricole and Kelme broke out some Shimano carbon wheels, and Rabobank and Telekom were again using all-carbon rims. U.S. Postal’s Roberto Heras and Telekom’s Jan Ullrich, however, stuck with their normal flat-stage road bikes.