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by Dave Everett
April 1, 2017
Photography by Dave Everett
With the Northen European races well under way and the big one about to kick off on Sunday, it’s usual for all the limelight to be hogged by the big guys, the big teams, and the big brands that have something to show off. At this point in the season, all eyes are on the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, and it’s here where many teams and sponsors will pump up the hype and aim to get as many eyeballs on them as possible.
But there’s hope for the smaller teams.
Some of the bigger teams choose to rest their riders and sit out of the mid-week races like Three Days of De Panne-Koksijde, and it’s here where many of the smaller teams can finally enjoy their time in the spotlight, especially when the world’s cycling media is already camped out in Belgium. For these smaller outfits — in particular, Continental teams — the Three days of De Panne can be their Tour de France, a chance to showcase their jersey sponsor on TV and in front of big crowds. Belgium alone has nine Continental teams, and as is usually the case at this level of the sport, they run more on passion than money.
Cibel is a producer and seller of oranges and other citrus fruits, and has been the title supporter of this squad since 2009 — which arguably has one of the best kit designs in the peloton as far as faithfully representing the interests of your team sponsor. Despite the team’s modest position, its equipment is surprisingly high quality in many places. Bikes are supplied by a well-established Taiwaneese brand, CKT, that has a quiet, yet solid, following and reputation in Europe — France, in particular. CKT has even gone out of its way to match the paint scheme with the rest of the team livery, something you don’t usually see with a Continental team.
CKT are a Taiwanese brand that have quite a strong image in Europe and especially France, where ex-pro Richard Virenque serves as a brand ambassador.
CKT is an acronym for Carbon Knowledge Team — very catchy. A 53cm frame comes in at a claimed 990g.
A Specialized Phenom saddle sits atop a seatpost from Resa, which is presumably a house-brand for CKT.
Continental teams often resort to lesser-known brands for equipment.
A Quarq power meter and chainset with FSA chainrings were the only deviation from a full Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain. Note the use of 10-speed rings, too.
These levers have seen so much use that the anodizing is partially worn off.
Vredestein Fortezza Senso T tubular tyres in 25mm.
A team logo I’m sure many aren’t familiar with.
DT Swiss hubs are very popular on many of the team bikes, as they’re not only reasonably lightweight, but also very reliable.
The integrated carbon cockpit is finished to match. Needless to say, though, this bike is due for some fresh bar tape.
This team hopefully enjoys some of the fringe benefits of having good sponsors: Tarteletto is a maker of cakes, and Superano produces ham. Having classics superhero Johan Museeuw as a technical advisor probably doesn’t hurt, either.
The team’s bikes, however, are an odd affair, featuring Zannata frames, Ryde wheels, and mish-mash of parts that aren’t consistent from rider to rider.
Zannata’s Z88 is an open-mold frame whose shape is shared with several other bike brands.
Tarteletto-Isorex is a small Continental team, but do have Johan Museeuw on the books as technical manager.
The back of the bus is a perfect place to showcase all the sponsors of the small continental team.
Tidy looking graphics on the team bikes.
Ryde is the new brand name of long-time rim company Rigida. The sticker stating who built the wheels is a nice touch.
Challenge Forte tubulars in 25mm.
The aluminium Deda Zero 2 cockpit is smart workhorse equipment for a team that likely has a very tight equipment budget.
There’s no white tape to be found here.
The seatstays attach further down on the seat tube, and the brake is mounted below the chainstays — a move likely motivated by aerodynamic efficiency.
Bitex is another Taiwaneese company.
There definitely seems to be a food trend when it comes to Belgian Continental teams, as team title co-sponsor Pauwels Sauzen makes sauces for frites. Business is apparently pretty good, too, as this is a Continental team that seems to have a healthier budget than most with three team mechanics, Colnago CLX carbon frames, a mix of SRAM Red and Force components, and Zipp bars, stems, and seatposts. Even the team cars, motorhomes, and vans all looked new and more in keeping with what you’d see on Pro Continental teams.
Team Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice Continental (try saying that with a few Duvels in you) has quite a fancy fleet of Colnago CLX bikes for a Continental team.
One of the riders was testing out a personal chain lube sponsor. The team mechanic wouldn’t provide any specifics, but the white powdery appearance suggests that it’s similar to the Teflon treatments used by CeramicSpeed.
OHR Cycling is a wheel brand based in Belgium.
Hybrid ceramic hub bearings are supplied by Enduro.
Saddles are provided by Prologo.
In addition to bars, stems, and seatposts, Zipp also supplies its Service Course bar tape.
More northern European than Belgium, the Joke-Icopal team hails from Norway and has had several notable riders pass through its midsts, including Lars Petter Nordhaug, Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Alexander Kristoff. Bikes are from Norwegian brand Gavia, and wheels are supplied by Aerlite — the house brand for a Norwegian online retailer. Whereas many Continental teams are on Shimano’s second-tier Ultegra Di2 groupset, Joker-Icopal goes all-out with Dura-Ace Di2.
Gavia is a Norwegian brand, and this is its Imperial SL 1 model.
Aerlite is apparently the house-brand of the online retailer that sponsors the team.
Just what you need for the rough Belgian roads.
Deda cages hold the bidons in place.
The Norwegian colors decorate the seat tube.
A tidy cap helps prevent water from seeping into the seat tube.
With so many DT Swiss wheels in the peloton, team mechanics likely don’t have much trouble finding spares if they don’t have what they need in their own truck.
The seatstays look quite stout on the Gavia.
The frame is topped with a proprietary aero-profile carbon seatpost.
The Cycling Academy team is not only the first Israeli registered Pro Continental team, but also the only non-profit cycling team. Bikes are supplied by Cannondale, FSA and Vision provide components and wheels, and groupsets come from Shimano — although as is often the case with Continental and Pro Continental squads, what you’ll find here is Ultegra Di2, not Dura-Ace Di2. Even the FSA equipment wasn’t from the top tier K-Force range, but the more modest SL-K collection.
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod are the bikes of choice for the Cycling Academy, the same model used by the Cannondale-Drapac WorldTour team.
Fabric has pulled out all the stops by producing a very sweet looking custom Scoop Carbon saddle for the Israeli-backed team.
Another well used Ultegra lever, and we’re only a few months into the season.
Sprint shifters are neatly tucked away.
C-Bear, a producer of ceramic bearings, is another Belgian brand that seems to be cropping up more and more in the pro ranks. The company also sponsors WorldTour team Lotto-Soudal.
The Cycling Academy had a full fleet of Vision wheels in multiple depths. These are the Metron 40 SL model.
K3 make the frame number mounts.
Cycling Academy, Israel’s first Pro Continental team.
Though Willems has been around as a cycling sponsor for some time, this team is a new set up founded by 2011 Tour of Flanders winner Nick Nuyens. Also situated under the same corporate umbrella is the cyclocross side of the team, with current world champion Wout Van Aert racing in its colours. Team-issued Felt FR1 carbon framesets are fitted with SRAM Red eTap wireless electronic groupsets and Zipp wheels, bars, stems, and seatposts.
Felt supplies its light-and-stiff FR1 model to the Belgian Veranda’s Willems Crelan Pro Continental team.
All the team were on the FR1 model while at De Panne. Felt has been teasing hints that something new may be on the way, but mechanic Tim was tight-lipped as to what it was.
Zipp supplies the team with bars, stem, and seatposts. This SL Sprint model is built more for stiffness than low weight.
Felt is a prominent user of TeXtreme “spread tow” carbon fabrics in its composite frames and forks.
Belgian brand Sx-Force makes a few little gizmos for the bike, including this race number mount (which was slightly doctored by the team mechanic).
This is the only Pro Continental team in Europe running SRAM’s Red eTap groupset.
The FR1 does without any aero shaping.
Felt was recently acquired by French ski brand Rossignol.
This custom repair stand, made by team mechanic Tim Dejonghe, was compact and full of neat little features.
The stainless steel material not only looks cool, but is a perfect choice for an item that will see lots of degreasers, cleaners, and water.
Team mechanic Tim Dejonghe also has a few little box full of emergency time trial equipment.
As always, the team bus is hard to miss.
Dutch Pro Continental team Roompot was the first to trial bikes in the peloton with disc brakes, but its riders have since reverted to standard rim brakes this year due to the fact they are now sponsored by Campagnolo, the last remaining major player to not have released a race ready disc groupset… yet. Bikes are from Isaac, wheels are from FFWD — another Dutch company — cockpit components are supplied by Ritchey, and Selle Italia supplies saddles.
Isaac has backed the Roompot team for three years now. It was the first team to start using disc brakes.
The Element is the bike of choice for the team./caption]
[caption id="attachment_239508" align="alignnone" width="1060"] The stout two-bolt head on the Ritchey seatpost should keep the Selle Italia saddle from rotating on bumps.
Dutch tyres for a Dutch team.
FFWD F4R rims are laced up to DT Swiss hubs.
Campagnolo has yet to officially announce its disc-brake groupset — although it’s coming soon.