Paris Roubaix is a test of equipment whether it’s wet or dry so there are modifications and specials aplenty on the start line of this prestigious classic.
This year the weather remained unusually dry but there was still the need for an exceptionally keen eye for detail needed to ensure that the bikes made it to the velodrome.
AG2R were using the same calipers as in Flanders, FSA?s SL-K. These appear to have ample tyre clearance but surprisingly isn?t the top of the range brakes, with the K-Force heading the line up. AG2R were also using K-Force cranks and Energy front mechs in conjunction with their standard Campagnolo Record groupsets.
CSC were obviously trying to add a touch of humour with a Kangeroo sticker on O’Grady’s bike. But don?t be fooled, the team was deadly serious at Roubaix, especially as two of their riders were among the favourites.
Ambrosio rims were not just the order of the day for CSC, but just about all the other Pro teams riding Roubaix, offering comfort over a carbon wheel but also solid and proven reliability. Most teams will run a 36 three cross wheel for this event.
CSC had gone one bit further with their pedals, maybe for the extra mud dispersal, if the race’s weather reputation was to come true, rather than weight advances. The plastic body has been stripped away and the axle and bearings covered with neatly machined caps.
Roger Hammond was using an adapted road frame, evident by the caliper hole in the wishbone. The frame has had cantilever studs added during the production of the frame in order to use Froglegs brakes that are more akin to cyclo cross bikes.
Schwalbe sponsors High Road, and here a pair of Vittoria Pavé tubular tyres has been re-branded with the sponsor?s logo.
A trick often used by cyclo cross riders, Hammond’s stem was drilled through for the brake cable to run to the Frogleg brakes. Hammond is one of a few that requires the stem to go as low as possible in order to get the correct position, so a brake cable hanger is not an option.
Lotto was running Ridley?s X-Fire cyclo cross bike with many of its riders. The more relaxed angles and carbon lay-up make it more ideally suited than the manufacturers stiff road frames. The bikes are still using a road fork with a standard caliper, presumably so that the X-Fire still handles well on the road sections of the course.
It wouldn?t be a Roubaix feature without the winner?s bike. Boonen was riding a version of Specialized?s latest frame, launched at this year’s race, the Roubaix SL2. Tom’s Roubaix SL2 uses the Tarmac SL2 front triangle but with a new fork and rear stays that are developed further from last year’s Roubaix, to give the stiffness and compliance that is needed for the cobbled classics.
Tornado Tom Boonen was using long and unusual 177.5mm cranks. Not so unusual was his choice of chainrings, imitating a majority of the field with a 53/46 setup.
Losing your chain at a vital moment could cost you a race like Roubaix, and all the teams sport some kind of guide to keep the chain on the rings. These range from a plastic guide that comes as standard fitted to production bikes, to this neat custom made steel guide that mounts to the front mech bracket as on Boonen’s bike.
Here they are again, Ambrosio rims, but this time hidden under the guise of Specialized?s wheel brand, Roval. These were laced to black Campagnolo Record hubs.