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Fabian Cancellara’s fork: the rake’s progress

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.

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.