Ag2r-La Mondiale’s riders will be able to choose between a number of different bikes to take on the cobbles. Many will choose to stick with the Focus Izalco Max, an already very compliant road bike that they would have been using for a couple of months already this season. For those wanting to use disc brakes, the Focus Izalco Max Disc is the obvious option to go for.
Riders in search of a little more comfort will likely plump for the Focus Cayo, the German brand’s endurance bike, while the likes of Sebastien Turgot and Damien Gaudin have ridden cyclocross bikes in the Classics in the past, so could well plump for the Mares CX.
As you’d hope for from a bike with Roubaix in its name, the Specialized Roubaix has been hugely successful over the cobbles, being ridden to victory in the Hell of the North in five of the last eight seasons. With this sort of pedigree the Roubaix is surely the Specialized of choice for Astana, even if its unlikely to be a rider from the Kazakh team to continue the winning run.
For the first time this year, the team could have the choice of using disc brakes, with Specialized having produced a disc brake version of the top-end S-Works Roubaix for a number of years now. We’ll just have to wait and see whether Campagnolo is able to get its disc brake system out of the door before the cobbles get going in earnest.
BMC Racing took on the 2015 Paris-Roubaix on a special edition BMC Granfondo RBX, and we’d expect them to do exactly the same this time round. This bike is largely similar to the standard BMC Granfondo GF01, but with extra clearance at the fork and seatstays to allow the team to fit wide 30mm tyres without the risk of rubbing.
It’ll be interesting to see if BMC decide to unleash a disc brake version of the Granfondo RBX, although the fact that Shimano doesn’t produce a disc brake version of its highly popular Dura-Ace C50 wheelset might prove to be a sticking point.
Like BMC Racing, we expect to see most of the Cannondale team make their way over to their bike sponsor’s endurance model, in this case the Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod. This is a bike that has been around for a while, and might look a little funky with its drooping seatstays and split seat tube, but performs admirably over rough terrain.
Interestingly, Cannondale only sells the Synapse Hi-Mod as a disc brake bike, so we could well the pro team all forced onto disc brakes for the 2016 cobbles campaign. However, surely a brand as big as Cannondale, especially as the main sponsor of a pro team, will be able to produce rim brake Synapse Hi-Mods for any rider that wants one.
The Cervelo S5 might be one of the best-looking bikes in the WorldTour peloton, but its slightly harsh ride should see Dimension Data switching onto one of Cervelo’s more endurance-minded bikes. Before last year the R3 or R5 would have been the natural choice, however in 2016 there is a new weapon in the Cervelo armoury.
The Cervelo C5 was launched late last year, and although being primarily aimed at long distance sportive riders, should be well-adept at soaking up the cobbles with its slender curved seatstays and serious fork rake. The only snag is that it is only available to you and me with disc brakes, so maybe Dimension Data will test with tried and tested rim brakes on the equally tried and tested R3 and R5.
With a pretty ridiculous line up of Classics veterans to call on, Etixx-Quick Step should be feared enough already, even before they mount their Specialized Roubaix bikes that have enjoyed so much success over the last decade.
If they choose to ride disc brakes, then Etixx-Quickstep will be able to choose from a number of different Roval models with the Rapide CLX 40 wheels being the wheelset that the team will most likely be using for most of the cobbled races.
FDJ’s Lapierre bikes are some of the most recognisible in the pro peloton with their odd top tube design that splits just before it reaches the seat tube. On the Xelius there is clean air between the seatstays and the seat tube, but on the Pulsium top tube is joined to the seat tube using Lapierre’s vibration-dampening SAT technology, which should allow the FDJ riders to float over the cobbles.
But there’s bad news for disc brake fans in the FDJ team camp, as Lapierre doesn’t yet have a disc version of the Pulsium, meaning any rider wishing to run discs will have to use the lower model of the Lapierre Sensium.
Like the Specialized Roubaix, the Giant Defy seems to have been around forever, but it was only last year that the Defy finally took its first win in Paris-Rouabaix courtesy of John Degenkolb. In an attempt to dampen vibrations, the Defy (or more specifically the Defy Advanced SL that Giant-Alpecin will be riding) features a slender D-Fuse integrated seatpost which is said to flex by as much as 11mm.
Other endurance features include the slender, hollow seatstays for even more rear end comfort, while John Degenkolb‘s winning bike from 2015 also included in line brake levers to allow him to brake on the cobbles without having to move his hands from the tops.
Scott does have a endurance bike in the form of the Solace, but over the past few years the IAM Cycling riders have been reluctant to use it. Instead they’ve opted for either the Addict or the Foil, and we expect the trend to continue in 2016.
The Scott Foil was updated last summer with additional features to improve comfort as well as aerodynamics (all of which work very well), so we could well see more riders on Scott’s aero bike compared to the infamously rigid old Foil, with DT Swiss’ new wider-rimmed DiCut wheels also helping comfort.
Like Scott, although Canyon produce an endurance road bike (the excellent Endurace) we’re unlikely to see any of the Katusha riders using this model. Instead the majority are likely to follow Alexander Kristoff‘s lead in his win in the Tour of Flanders last year where he was riding a Canyon Aeroad CF SLX.
However, with the Ultimate CF SLX having been updated for 2016 to have a frame that is apparently 15 per cent more comfortable than the previous model, we could well see more riders on that, especially if Canyon is ready to let loose the Ultimate CF SLX Disc that we saw at Eurobike last year.
Lampre-Merida might not quite have taken Euskaltel-Euskadi’s place as the whipping boys of the northern Classics, but you’re still more likely to see one of the team’s Merida Ride Team-E road bikes being loaded into the broom wagon than you are seeing it leading the bunch at 60kmh into the Forest of Arenberg.
The cobbled Classics are the only time we get to see the Ride in the pro peloton, and it features technology where the tubes are split into two different chambers to improve strength, and flax fibres built into the carbon-fibre in an attempt to improve comfort.
A Belgian team riding a Belgian bike, it’s no surprise that Lotto-Soudal will be well equipped for tackling the cobbles. The team will be on board the Ridley Fenix SL, a bike that was tested by Andre Greipel throughout last year’s spring Classics before receiving its full launch later in the year.
The Fenix SL shuns any suspension technology in favour of carbon engineering, with Ridley using a new carbon-fibre blend in the frame that is said to increase the stiffness of the bottom bracket and front end, while improving compliance at the back, something which should also be helped by the slender seatstays and 27.2mm seatpost.
LottoNL-Jumbo may be without a win on the cobbles since Sebastien Langeveld won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in the team’s former Rabobank guise back in 2011, but the Dutch team are probably one of the better equipped in the WorldTour when it comes to Classics-ready bikes.
Bike sponsors Bianchi has the super-smooth Infinito CV up its sleeve, which incorporates CounterVail technology into certain areas of the frame to improve compliance. What’s more this is available with either disc brakes or rim brakes, so the team will have a choice of braking systems if wanted.
With a predominantly Spanish team built around Nairo Quintana’s Tour de France ambitions, Movistar might not feature too often on our TV screens over the coming weeks, but if they do they should be on either the Aeroad CF SLX or the Ultimate CF SLX.
However, if the team is given a prototype Ultimate CF SLX Disc for testing, and Campagnolo is able to release its rumoured upcoming disc brake in time, then we could well see Movistar riding a completely new bike altogether, with the Spanish team perhaps being more willing to test a prototype bike, whereas Katusha, who are also sponsored by Canyon, may be reluctant to risk Alexander Kristoff’s chances for the sake of testing.
Orica-Greenedge will have the same choices of bikes as IAM Cycling, with the options of either going for the Scott Foil or Addict in the search of cobbled glory. Most of the team were still using the old Foil in the early season races in the southern hemisphere, but this was probably only due to logistical issues, and we expect to see the more compliant new Foil unleased for the cobbles.
Of course this will probably mean that none of the team will be using disc brakes, unless they make they unlikely decision to go for extra comfort with Scott’s Solace endurance bike.
Unveiled last spring, Team Sky will be enjoying their second Classics campaign aboard the Pinarello Dogma K8-S, a bike which comes equipped with a rear suspension system positioned at the junction point between the seatstays and the seat tube which apparently gives up to 1cm of travel, giving a claimed 4.6 per cent increase in performance compared with the standard Pinarello Dogma F8.
The frame has plenty of clearance for wider tyres, with Team Sky’s preferred choice of 27mm FMB tyres fitting with lots of space to spare. Pinarello doesn’t yet have a disc brake version of the K8-S, so if any Sky riders want to use discs, then they’ll have to ride the Dogma F8 Disk.
Specialized’s third team in the WorldTour, Tinkoff will hopefully be bringing the snazzy blue and yellow paintjobs from their standard Tarmacs onto the Roubaixs and Roubaix Discs which they will be using for the cobbles.
It’ll also be interesting to see whether the Russian team decides to go for the Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS for the northern races where cobbles are not so much of a factor in the race result (such as Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and Gent-Wevelgem), opting for aerodynamics over comfort in search of the win.
With the new Trek Madone adopting the IsoSpeed decoupler vibration dampening system first used on the Domane, Trek-Segafredo could have two different bikes that could be used on the cobbles. However, we’d expect the majority of the riders to plump for the tried-and-tested Domane, especially as the ultra-integration of the Madone is unproven of the cobbles.
As far as discs are concerned, the team has already tested the Trek Domane Disc at the Vuelta a España, so it’s more than likely that there will be riders who choose to go down that route, although Fabian Cancellara won’t be one of them.