In today’s instalment of Bikes of the Bunch, Hamish Low shares the story of his Team Telekom edition Pinarello Prince LS.
Team Deutsche Telekom has to be one of the most iconic names in recent cycling history. With the likes of Bjarne Riis, Erik Zabel, Jan Ullrich, Andreas Kloden and, of course, Alexander Vinokourov, the team produced many of cycling’s modern day heroes and villains. The image they established was quintessential ‘euro pro’ and to back it up, the team animated races in extraordinary style. Yellow, green and gold (Vuelta) jerseys, wins at San Remo, Amstel, Paris-Nice … they tore it up.
The German powerhouse’s immense power hit an all-time high after ‘Der Kaiser’ won the Tour de France in 1997, prompting a huge rise in Germany’s interest in pro-cycling. In 1998 the Telekom ensemble was a match made in heaven and in the cycling world, they were a big deal. Sporting the signature pink and black colours, they were backed up by Pinarello, Campagnolo and even Adidas.
Love them or loath them, Telekom was one of the most influential teams of the 1990s and early 2000s, and in my eyes they were the coolest. They were the rock stars of cycling — you knew they were up to no good, but it didn’t stop you from putting their posters on your bedroom wall. Of course these weren’t the cleanest years in cycling, but many cycling fans will have some sort of emotional connection to Team Telekom.
So how did I become a fan-boy for a team of European legends and hooligans? Still at high school in 2003, I was a typical schoolboy rower caught in the sports bubble. Looking for a new taste I started to take notice of cycling on SBS. That year, I watched my first and arguably the best edition of the Tour de France. The race was nothing short of epic and unlike anything I’d ever seen. Every stage was so unique with such intense drama — these so-called athletes were insane.
Like many others, it was Ulle with Bianchi who was my favourite rider that year, but it was the German crew Telekom that caught my eye. With Zabel’s classic sprinting and Vino’s relentless aggression in the mountains, I was completely hooked on the Telekom train. Later I would watch the brilliant documentary “Hell on Wheels” through which I would fall in love with the team issue Pinarello the team had been riding. The dream was then set — at some point in time I would have to put this bike together.
The project had always been in the back of my mind and occasionally frames would pop up on eBay but they’d always be far too small or large. One day I stumbled across a forum in ‘Pedal Room’ on a nice Telekom build and soon found myself chatting away with its very interesting owner.
Andre, a Belgian living in Gent, was working freelance for Team Telekom as a mechanic at the service course between 1999 and 2003. The workshop was situated south-west of Gent, at the back of then director sportif Walter Godefroot’s bike shop ‘Fietsen Godefroot’. These days, Andre is the organiser of “Stalen Ros Belgie”, an annual retro/vintage bike fair held in November at the Kuipke Velodrome, best known for the famous Six Days of Gent.
As a gift for his final year of work for the team, Godefroot gave Andre the new bike, which had originally belonged to one of Telekom’s most stylish riders, Danilo Hondo, the 2002 German National champion.
After six months of good cycling banter with Andre, our friendship blossomed and he offered to sell me the frame. A little while later the centrepiece landed in Melbourne and the project began.
Since it was a 2002/2003 frameset, there was no question but to build it up era-correct and to team spec components. Although this would definitely be challenging it would certainly make it more special and was what it fully deserved. Building the bike to just as the team had ridden it meant that almost all of the parts originated from Italy, with Pinarello, Campy Record, Boras and Deda coming together as one.
The process involved some extensive research and a lot of trawling the net for parts. This actually included coming across a whole other Telekom Pinarello in the Netherlands and stripping it for parts (but that’s another story/project). Help came both locally and abroad, but it was Andre who had undoubtedly been the most knowledgeable and also my key resource.
Almost two years of endless searching to source all the right components it had finally come together and was ready for the mechanic.
Anyone who’s done a big project like this will totally understand that finally putting it together is often the hardest part. It sounds ridiculous but you almost don’t want it to happen. But I’d come this far so off to the shop it went.
Dan at Shifter Bikes in Melbourne beautifully put the build together and his work just speaks for itself. His attention to detail is incredible. It felt like Dan was one of the few people who completely understood the time and effort that went into the project, and this respect and recognition brought the bike to life.
In the end it was extremely satisfying to have stuck to the plan and built it 100% to team specs. It’s the details that give it the era-correct look and feel, like the Deda cockpit, the MAX Flite saddle and the iconic and eye-catching magenta pink.
However the stand-out feature would easily have to be the original used Team Telekom, pink-wall Continental tubulars. Not only were they the hardest item to find but also the final piece in the puzzle that makes this bike truly authentic.
So how does it ride? To be honest, the Pinarello has only had one fairly gentle spin since it was built early 2015. That said, the Prince LS frame felt amazing, light and responsive with its Dedacciai alloy and carbon tubing. The size and geometry kept me a little nervous throughout the project but fortunately it ended up spot on, and I was surprised just how incredibly comfortable it was to ride.
The 10-speed Record Titanium gruppo is everything you would expect; absolutely perfect. The shifting is a pleasure — so reliable and clean. The sweetener is definitely the Bora G3s, which just glide and certainly taking the overall look of the bike up a notch and give it that racing edge. Complemented by Dan’s impeccable build contribution, the ride quality of this Italian package felt nothing short of a treat.
Looking back on the project, there isn’t anything at all I would change. Not only was an incredible bike put together but a great friendship formed with Andre that has since seen me visit Gent at his guest. In the end, it feels rewarding to know that no corners were cut and the result was a glorious bike true to its history.
As for Team Telekom, they will always remain my favourite no matter what. They are already the catalyst for another project on the horizon …
Frame – 2002 Pinarello Prince LS (58cm x 57cm)
Fork – Pinarello Vola Carbon
Stem – Deda Newton 31 (130mm)
Headset – Campagnolo Record integrated
Bars – Deda Newton 31.7 (Round Shallow bend)
Brakes – Campagnolo Record
Derailleur – Campagnolo Record Titanium 10s
Bottom Bracket – Campagnolo Record
Shifters – Campagnolo Record 10s
Cassette – Campagnolo Record (11-23)
Cranks – Campagnolo Record 172.5mm (53/39)
Chain – Campagnolo Record 10s
Wheels – Campagnolo Bora G3
Tyres – Continental Competition 22 Tubulars (Team Telekom Issue)
Saddle – Selle Italia MAX Flite (Manganese)
Seat pillar – Pinarello Carbon 31.6mm
Bidon cages – Elite Patao Carbon
Pedals – Speedplay Zero
Bar Plugs – Bespoke anodised alloy (Anthony at Kahl Design & Engineering)
Frame/Race number – Chris at Cyclo Retro
Seat pillar decal – Greg at Cyclomondo