April 10, 2008

Paris-Roubaix is a special race that throws up conditions that are unique to bike racing. Conditions that we only have to deal with for one day a year, but require specific (and cool!) equipment to deal with the almost absurd nature of the race. Sure, it is a truckload of prep for a single day race.
But it’s worth it if we get the result we’re hoping for…

Mud clearance seatstays, breaksSo we have been lucky our sponsors have supplied us with some special equipment to use on Sunday. We have some special framesets from Felt that are slightly longer than our standard ones to provide a bit more stability on the pavé. The wider and indented chainstays and seatstays give a bit of extra mud clearance (pictured left with Shimano brakes). And the fork is slighlty higher than usual to keep the mud from clogging up the front wheel. We are also using Shimano longreach brakes on the front and rear to help with this.

Zipp has sorted us out with a nice strong ‘clydesdale’ wheelset that uses a 404 rim in the rear and a 303 up front, with standard double butted spokes that are laced up 2 cross. The whole team will be riding carbon Zipp wheels on Sunday.

We also have those awesome, green Vittoria Pavé tubulars–but this time in an extra wide 27 mm width. Tyre pressure is a closely guarded secret, but with the wider tubular we can run much lower pressure than normal. Especially if the weather is nasty on the big day.

Most of the boys will leave the team bus on Sunday morning with 53-46 chainrings and a tight 11-21 cassette on the rear. Paris Roubaix is dead pan flat after all.

Ciao ciao! Off for my evening beer (or two)..

Kris “Grom” Withington, New Zealand Mechanic