Roadside St.16: We’re train spotters today, those sad people who collect train numbers – or who endlessly gaze at the minutiae of bicycles. Let’s take a stroll through the start area and have a closer look at what some of the pros are riding…
I think it was Pellizotti who first did the ‘tropical disease’ thing with his frame – and unfortunately Vacansoleil took up the theme on Johny Hoogerland’s Ridley.
Current incumbent, Jelle Vanendert has exercised restraint and it’s just his SRM monitor which has beri-beri.
An understated paint job we like is the red, white and blue ‘French national champion’ on Chava’s Merckx – nice.
Unfortunately, Tommy has shown no restraint and an orgy of colour co-ordination has been indulged in – at least the shorts are black.
World champion Thor Hushovd’s Cervelo has nice ‘rainbow’ hi-lites, we’re not sure on the white stem, though.
Garmin rider’s have embraced the ovoid/asymmetrical Rotor chain ring.
Views are mixed on this, some riders swear by it but others say it’s a gimmick – each to his own.
Another one the jury is out on is over-size derailleur rollers; some say the save watts, some say they don’t.
Phil Gilbert likes them, though.
For reasons were not sure of, Cav didn’t ride his five figures McLaren on stage 15 and isn’t riding it today, either.
A neat touch on the McLaren is that the Di2 battery is inside the seat tube.
Cav has his own ‘signature’ stems now – by PRO; the only thing is that to our eye they look more like they’d be at home on a civil engineering project.
And just to emphasise that Cav is the Capo, he’s the only one on the team who gets ‘trick’ KCNC titanium skewers.
On the subject of ‘little differences,’ over at Liquigas, the SRAM shifters have the hi-lites in lime green to match those beautiful Cannondales.
But check out that big rear mech cable loop you require to get the best action on the shifts.
If Ivan has green SRAM hi-lites on his shifters, Bert has to have – yes, yellow.
His Specialized has the same big rear mech cable loop and the frame manufacturer’s own chainset, which coupled with massive bottom bracket means that all the power is going where it’s meant to.
And of course there are his hi-lite Giro/Tour/Vuelta colour flashes.
Perhaps the most radical cranks on the race are those ridden by the likes of David Moncoutie on his Look at Cofidis.
Look claim it’s the most rigid crankset on the market.
On the subject of ‘radical’ – the BMC’s of Cadel Evans and Co. are still perhaps the frames that best fit that description.
We like the ultra neat replaceable rear gear hanger and futuristic seat pillar.
Pinarello have two teams in the race; Sky and Movistar.
Sky have spent fortunes on changing their black and blue livery to black and green in support of their rain forest message.
Rigoberto Uran wears white for them and their boss, David Brailsford tells us that they hope to defend it all the way to Paris.
Whilst Sky are on Shimano electronic – and word is that Shimano gave them the groupsets last year, and didn’t sell them at cost as is the usual protocol.
Movistar are trialling Campag’s 11 speed electronic – we first saw Campag electronic on Bert Roesem’s bike as long ago as 2007, but it’s till not on the market.
The Italian front changer isn’t as neat as the Japanese one, to our eyes.
Movistar have already won a stage, thanks to Rui Costa; but Spanish national champion, JJ Rojas still has designs on green.
Samu Sanchez is a man who leaves his bikes to his mechanic Thomas, with the Orbeas nudging the UCi minimum weight limit and two Giro and a Tour stage to the Orca’s credit in 2010, there’s little reason not to.
Spray job apart there’s little difference from last year’s ‘Samu Special’ except for a little sticker in support of the Japanese earthquake victims, and a very neat – hand made by Thomas – carbon number holder.
Hand made carbon number holders – that’s what really matters in this race !