KORTRIJK, Belgium (VN) — When I stopped by the Leopard-Trek hotel mechanics were busy working on bikes for the upcoming weekend. Fabian Cancellara’s bike in particular had some interesting modifications being made.
His mechanic, Roger Theel, and Trek team liaison, Ben Coates, were discussing a fork change on Fabian’s race bike. Instead of using the stock Madone carbon fork sent with his frame, he prefers a bit more rake — 45mm instead of the spec’d 40mm fork. Luckily Trek makes a 45mm rake fork for the Madone, but for smaller frames. It was just a matter of painting a few of them in Leopard-Trek colors for Fabian’s bike.
What’s a little funny is that the reason the mechanics and Fabian requested the increased rake was to slow the bike’s handling down a bit. Of course only increasing rake actually decreases trail and livens the handling a bit. That said, the additional rake does increase the wheelbase and helps with toe overlap. In any case, Fabian likes the change and so it is.
Another change for Cancellara is from Shimano’s Di2 Dura-Ace group to a mechanical one. At E3 Prijs Harelbeke, after some technical issues and a bike change, Cancellara decided that he wanted to race on the mechanical group. What was formerly his spare bike is now his race bike and that is what is shown in these photographs. (The process of changing a spare bike to a race bike is a simple one: take the number hanger from the former race bike and install on the new one.)
About the change Cancellara said: “I prefer manual. You have two possibilities, and (on this team) we have the choice. For me, it’s been okay as it is (manual). Both (Di2 and mechanical) are something nice. Not everyone has the same preferences, and it’s good that we can decide.
“It’s great that we have the support we need. Cycling is turning into … I won’t say Formula 1, but every little detail counts.”
If conditions are bad for the race it’s also possible that Cancellara will ride Speedplay’s Roubaix team-only pedal. The open design allows for much better mud clearance after unclipping into a muddy road shoulder. Even if the defending Flanders champ doesn’t use them this Sunday, he’s likely to at Roubaix.
Time will tell if Spartacus can repeat his impressive 2010 performance at Flanders and Roubaix. But thanks to his personal mechanic and careful attention to this year’s bike he won’t be handicapped by his material.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, Stamsnijder and Coates
Hennie Stamsnijder, Shimano Europe, and Ben Coates, Trek team liaison, were both at the Leopard-Trek camp getting the team ready for the big weekend ahead.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, tightening stem
Lastly, tighten the stem to lock it all in place. (and no, Theel did not use a torque wrench — let the comments begin!) Just like that, Fabian has a new fork.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, adjusting stem and headset
Make sure the stem is straight and the headset is properly adjusted. In the background Ben Coates (in white) builds a new bike for team manager Brian Nygaard. Rune Kristensen, another team mechanic, was busy organizing the truck.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, adjusting headset preload
Adjusting headset preload.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, stem install
A bit of clean-up and the stem is installed.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, cutting steerer
Theel hacking away. He took his time to avoid splintering.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, cutting guide
Park cutting guide in place. Cancellara's stem sits on the headset.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, Fabian's fork
Here's Fabian's new fork. It has 45mm of rake and is taken from one of Trek's smaller frames (54cm and below use 45mm offset forks, 56cm and up use 40mm).
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, Cancellara's setback
Cancellara likes a lot of setback. His 58cm Madone has a 73 degree seat tube. Even with a setback seat mast, his saddle is slammed.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, wear and tear
Road grime and some serious brake pad wear show that Theel hadn't worked on the bike just yet.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, Bontrager stem
A white 14cm Bontrager XXX Lite carbon stem keeps Fabian pointed in the right direction.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, deep-drop bar
Cancellara rides a deep-drop anatomic aluminum bar.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, team-only Speedplays
If conditions take a turn for the worse, Cancellara and his Leopard-Trek teammates will use these team-only Speedplays.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, 175mm Shimano SRM cranks
Spartacus spins 175mm Shimano SRM cranks.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, stainless Speedplays
Cancellara rides stainless steel Speedplay pedals. These have a bit of wear.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, custom K-Edges
Leopard-Trek is using custom K-Edges this classics season.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, swapping number hanger
Roger Theel, Cancellara's mechanic, had already swapped the number hanger from his Di2 bike. The dirt is from the morning's training.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, Fabian Cancellara
Fabian stopped by while I was shooting his bike. What he's trying to hide in his left hand are the chocolates he grabbed just prior to the Leopard press conference. In the background are prototype Bontrager wheels.
2011 Tour of Flanders tech, good working weather
In the days before the Tour of Flanders both soigneurs and mechanics put in long hours. Unseasonably warm (and dry) weather kept a smile on everyone's face.