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by Dave Everett
July 16, 2016
Photography by Dave Everett
LE CAVERNE DE PONT, France (CT) – Like other manufacturers, Lapierre and Cannondale spent time in the weeks before the Tour de France getting custom bikes ready for their sponsored teams: FDJ and Cannondale-Drapac respectively. As a result, Thibaut Pinot of FDJ and Pierre Rolland of Cannondale-Drapac have been kitted out with some of the slickest looking bikes at this year’s race.
Thibaut Pinot’s Lapierre Xelium SL, the brand’s lightweight offering, stood out from the rest of the FDJ bikes with its eye-catching white, silver and blue paint scheme. The steed that Pinot was using (before he withdrew from the race after stage 12) looks pretty special in the occasional sunshine that France is providing for this year’s Tour. Beyond the fancy paintwork the bike features the same setup the rest of the FDJ team is using.
Shimano, a long-time sponsor of the team supplies a full Di2 groupset with a 9000 series SRM-equipped chainset. Direct-mount brakes do the stopping. Wheels are the ever-reliable Dura-Ace C50s with Continental Competition ProLTD tubulars in 25mm helping Pinot stick to the road (or not as the case might be on stage 11).
Bars, stem, seat posts and bar tape all come from Pro. One interesting point is the inclusion of a Garmin computer as opposed to an SRM head unit.
Lapierre has a long history, dating back to 1946.
The seat stays join the top tube directly, wrapping around the seat tube. The look is similar to that of BMC or GT’s triple triangle design but acts differently due to them not actually coming into contact with the seat tube. This is Lapierre’s way of allowing a little more compliance in the back end. Trek’s latest Domane is built on a slightly similar design principal.
Even though a few of the FDJ riders have been spotted using the new Shimano Dura-Ace powermeter that was showcased prior to the Tour at a press launch, Pinot’s instead using an SRM Dura-Ace chainset.
Pinot clearly likes a deep classic drop on his bars. The tape also seems slightly thick.
Notice how the mechanics have yet to either tape over or fill the mechanical cable holes on the frame.
The Elite Leggero Carboncage tips the scales at a scant 15g.
A slightly cheeky top cap for Pinot, made by Extralite. This isn’t a custom-designed top cap — it’s readily available on the Extralite site.
The Continental ProLTD tubular is a hugely popular tubular among pro teams. Team Sky is not sponsored by any tyre manufacture and has also been seen using the ProLTD this season, including at the Tour.
K-Edge supplies the custom SRM-engraved chain-catcher.
Neat cable routing on the rear of the Lapierre. The rubberrised outlet can be switched depending on whether you use mechanical or electronic shifting cables.
Pierre Rolland is another Frenchman on a custom bike. Rolland has two Tour stage wins to his name plus three top 10 finishes overall and this year he’s the leader of the US-registered Cannondale-Drapac squad. His 2016 Tour hasn’t quite according to plan so far — he currently sits in 17th place, 5:16 behind race leader Chris Froome.
Rolland’s daughters name, Jade, was the inspiration behind the paint scheme which was put together by Artech Design, an Italian-based custom paint shop. The couple that did the intricate airbrush work, Lara Cassanelli and Danilo Strafe, have a long history with Cannondale. The likes of Mario Cipollini, Ivan Basso, Vincenzo Nibali and more recently Peter Sagan have all had custom Cannondale frames from Artech.
Beyond the paint scheme, the most noticeable change to the bike is the inclusion of CeramicSpeed’s Oversized Pulley System and a UFO chain. Both these additions have been made in the hope of saving watts.
The Oversized Pulley System, with its 17-tooth jockey wheel reportedly helps reduce friction in the pulleys by 60% when compared to standard Shimano Dura-Ace jockey wheels. This apparently saves 2.4 watts. The lightweight cage is made from a polyamide with a carbon fibre finish while the jockey wheels are made of alloy and fitted with low-friction CeramicSpeed bearings.
Matched to this is CeramicSpeed’s UFO chain, a product that we’ve not seen on many normal road bikes. Previously it’s been an item reserved for time trial bikes. The “Ultra-Fast Optimised” chains have a very limited lifespan of only a few hundred kilometres.
The process of producing the UFO chain involves removing the manufacturer’s lube (be it a KMC or Shimano chain) then pre-wearing it in for a few hundred kilometres. From there a wax-like Teflon coating is applied.
The rest of the bike is pretty stock standard (if you can class a pro bike as “standard”). Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 shifting, Cannondale’s own SRM-equipped SISL chainset with FSA chainrings (39/53), Mavic’s ultralight and super stiff Cosmic carbon wheels, and a cockpit from FSA including compact bars and an SLK stem wrap up the package nicely.
The frame is Cannondale’s latest SuperSix Evo Hi Mod. It’s not glaringly obvious that it’s a new frame design but Cannondale has made changes to its latest top-level road bike. The frame and fork both have a slimmer profile, and are stiffer. The slimmer head tube helps with the all important limiting of frontal area. The carbon layup has also changed.
It’s a lovely bike but will we see Rolland do the machine proud once the Tour reaches the Alps, a stomping ground he’s found victory on previously?
Apart from the chain, jockey wheels and the paint scheme, the bike’s pretty stock standard when compared to the other team machines. Under the paint is Cannondale’s latest version of the SuperSix Evo HiMod.
A closer look at the UFO (Ultra-Fast Optimised) chain by CeramicSpeed.
Mavic’s top-of-the-range Cosmic Ultimate wheelset.
Many pros are using an 11-27 cassette.
Those oversized jockey wheels are huge when compared to standard Shimano ones.
We’ve seen it on some of the team leaders’ time trial bikes over the past two seasons, but not on any of the road bikes. Rolland seems to be the first to be using CeramicSpeed’s UFO chain. The process involves removing the manufacture’s lubricant, slightly wearing the chain in and then re-coating it in a wax-like powder to help reduce friction.
Several riders at the Tour have been spotted using the thickly padded Fizik Arione Tri saddle. The plastic thing under the saddle is a transmitter used to feed the rider’s onboard info to a crew at the finish who can then use it for showing race statistics on TV.
Being team leader means the #1 race number.
The paint scheme was designed by the very experienced Lara Cassanelli and Danilo Straffi.
Not the latest Fizik Arione, but if a rider likes a saddle they tend to stick with it. When you’re doing up to 8 hours on the bike a day you need comfort and that may not mean the latest technology.
Arundel carbon cages, reliable and great looking.
Cannondale’s SISL2 chain sets are some of the stiffest on the market. Match this with an SRM power meter sensor and it’s a pretty great setup. Chainrings are from FSA. Rolland’s setup the day we took the photo was a standard 39/53.
A closer look at the mottled “jewl” design.
Ceramic Speeds OSPW (Oversized Pulley Wheel) system.
Camelback bottles held firmly in place by the Arundel cages.
Rolland’s stage win back in 2011 (yep, five years ago now) is remembered on his stem. On the other side his stage to La Toussuire is also remembered.
The team uses Mavic tubulars and tyres. The French company has swapped manufacturing of the tyres to the Hutchinson group.