Paris-Roubaix and Ronde Van Vlaanderen are the two major races that attract a lot of attention due to the tech that’s being used since they’re races that demand a lot from the bike. Wheels, tyres and frame choice is essential and a way for brands to showcase their technical expertise.
The other major spring classics are races that don’t demand quite the same. The bike that were used a week ago on the cobbles are now packed away back at the team Service Corse and for following races in the Ardennes like Amstel Gold the standard race bike is the weapon of choice.
A trip around the pit area at Amstel Gold isn’t quite as exciting as the startline of the Cobbled Classics. The standard bikes all look like something that would be hanging on the walls in many high-end bike shops. That said, there is the odd team and rider that likes to stand out.
Wildcard teams are always worth a look, the bikes they use can range from down right ugly to some of the nicest in the peloton. Then there are the big hitters from the peloton. The guys with a big character or a reason to have a custom paint job. Here are just a few of the best…or worst, depending on personal preference.
CCC-Polsat, the polish team with “star” rider Davide Rebellin are using Guerciotti frames this year. The bright Orange matches the team clothing and one noticeable thing though was the fact that on a several of the bikes the bright orange was already fading or wearing off. Not good considering the season is only a few months old. The bikes were kitted out with full Shimano Dura-Ace, wheels from Italian brand Ursus shod with Vittoria tubulars, Deda bars, stem and seat posts to finish the look off.
Unlike many of the major teams I’ve spoken to who are able to throw kit away even with a slightest of scuffs or defects to it, a Pro Continetal team like CCC aren’t able to. The tape on one of the Selle Italia saddles showed this.
Over at Belgium Pro Continental team Wanty, the guys were using the same frame from Kuota as they had used at Roubaix and Flanders: the Kuota KOM. This Italian/Taiwanese company has sponsored Wanty this season due to German bike behemoth Focus taking over sponsorship at AG2R last year. A mix of Shimano and Rotor kept the team rolling. One rider was using the massively oversized bar and stem combo from Deda; the carbon 35, with no tape on the top it looked pretty tough.
Over at fellow Wildcard team Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox, the bright fluro colours of the Cippolini frames stood out from a mile, and that was even being parked next to bright orange CCC-Polsat bikes. A mix of the Rbix and the RB800 were lined up outside the team bus. Obviously an Italian team on quality Cippolini frames were kitted no less than the top end Campagnolo equipment, Bora wheels and Record EPS finished the package off.
The IAM Team (pronounced “YAM”) have the same frame set as Orica-GreenEDGE, the Scott Foil. The black, white and metallic blue looked understated. Keeping with the Swiss theme of the team they roll on wheels from DT-Swiss. Shimano groupsets and a Ritchy cockpit make for a very classy looking bike.
Aside from the Wildcard teams, very few of the big teams had anything different from the usual steads that they’d use for any other standard race.
As usual Canyon and Katusha didn’t disappoint. They always seem pretty keen on customising kit. Rodriguez had a white and red paint job on a team Aeroad CF frame set which proudly displayed that he was UCI World number one ranked rider last year.
Not to be out done was Daniel Moreno, teammate and fellow Ardennes Classics specialist. The bike was to commemorate last years win at La Fleche Wallonne with the matt blue and gun grey with a simple “W013” helped him stand out from the crowd.
Both bikes were equipped with the usual team issue finishing kit of Shimano, Mavic and Ritchey.
Over at Lampre, World Champion Rui Costa also sported a custom paint job. You may have already seen this at other races, although having a slight difference with the custom Rotor chain ring. Again painted up in the worlds champs stripes to match the bike and wheels.
One interesting addition to the bikes was the use of Shimano’s quick release levers on the cables which are now used on several of the bikes in the peloton now that use the chainstay mounted brakes (such as the Trek Madone).
Away from the bikes, one fan had clearly put in just as much effort into a fancy “paint job”. I spotted super-fan, Mai from Japan. She’s a regular at several of the big events over a season and had clearly spent the flight over making her nails look as good as several of the team bikes. The designs of the Lotto and Belgium flags on her nails were not only intricate but really quite impressive. Some of the teams should take note, but maybe not Katusha…