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for all my friends · the pro moment

the pro moment

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the pro moment.

handbuilts for the cobbled classics.  at first glance, riding over cobblestones paved into the ground doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.  but pro cyclists don’t just ride over them.  they race on the cobbles for relentless hours on end.  so it would come as no surprise that most pro bikes rely on wheelset basics to get them rolling as efficiently, and comfortably as possible.  enter the realm of the handbuilt wheelsets.  let’s use the above photo as reference.  movistar used campagnolo record hubs, 3 cross laced to campagnolo barcelona 92 box section tubulars with wider tires glued for extra cushion.  these handbuilt wheelsets are put into rotation once the cobbled classics begin, but don’t see much daylight afterwards.  appropriately, after the classics are over, they’re stashed away until the next year.  there’s a certain humbling sensation about classic-specific wheelsets.  pro cyclists ride on some of the lightest, smoothest riding, fastest wheelsets year round – when the cobbled classics come around early season, a majority of the carbon rims, ceramic bearings, and fancy aero wheels go away.  but not completely.  there are still some riders that race (and win) on carbon, but they are the exceptions to the ‘norm’.

euskatel-euskadi:  the team appears to be riding on dura-ace hubs, 3x to ambrosio nemesis box section tubulars and vittoria tires.  classics for the classics.

bretagne-schuller:  the pro-continental team rode on ambrosio nemesis box section tubulars, too.

omega-pharma lotto:  riders were equipped with spokey, mavic box section tubulars.  notice the bike on the bottom left, out of the picture.  this rider chose to race on mavic cosmic carbon tubulars for the race.

another exception to the ‘norm’: 2010 winner, fabian cancellara, rode on bontrager race xxx lite carbon tubulars with 27mm fmb tubulars front and rear for 2011.  the wheels might be a bit of an exception, but the tires fit right into the classics.

2010: fabian cancellara won the paris-roubaix on zipp 303 carbon tubulars.  zipp raved for the rest of the year about the torsional rim shape, and how it acted like a spring under load.  meanwhile, all the fair-weather internet cyclists of the world claimed cancellara had a brifter controlled, seat tube based bottom bracket motor.  unfortunately, he couldn’t recreate his amazing win this season.

garmin-cervélo had a slew of mavic box section tubulars.  but…

johan van summeren won on prototype mavic m40 carbon tubulars anyway.  granted, he was running 27mm, gumwall tubulars, but he flatted with 5km to go.  and still won.

in short, rider preference rules above all.  if a cyclist is comfortable riding 250km+ on carbon tubulars and chunky tires, what’s stopping him (or her) from doing so?  that being said, a pro team’s wheel arsenal is never complete without classic’s specific handbuilt wheelsets!

photos from steephill and bike radar.

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the pro moment.

drinking coca-cola post race (greg lemond, above – photo from velorunner).  maybe it’s the taste, caffeine, carbonation, or look of overwhelming pro-ness that is drinking a soda after a hard race, but whatever the case may be, coca-cola has a very pro stigma around it when it comes to professional road cycling.  there’s a lot of research out there attempting to understand the fascination with coca-cola as an ‘energy’ or recovery drink (my favorite is peak performance online’s article about it), but in reality, there might not be anything more refreshing after a hard race than an chilled can of coke.  the hint of caffeine might make the legs feel less sluggish after a long day in the saddle, eating wind.  or maybe the smooth, caramely liquid just tastes like heaven after sipping on dull sports drinks for hours.  and it would seem inevitable that more processed sugar would eventually make it into the tasty beverage that is coca-cola – yes, canned coke now contains high fructose corn syrup.  but it doesn’t seem to be stopping these guys:

philippe gilbert.  (photo from dan chabanov)

not completely sure who the de rosa-flaminia cyclist is, but his soigneur is handing him a taller, thinner can of coke.  (photo from bikeadelic)

chabanov.

have a coke and a smile.

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the pro moment.

bromance.  like the way pierre roland helped thomas voeckler defend his yellow jersey on stage 12.  the suffering bond that is professional cycling.  and as effortless as it sometimes appears, riding a bike really, really fast, isn’t easy.  especially when races are stacked up one after the other for a month straight.  riders rely on their teams to help them along.  and even when riders leave teams after contracts are up, rivalries get talked to death, and emotions run high at the grand tours, cyclists are still racing together in the pack, talking, and winding up to the line to the best of their abilities.

cavendish (htc-highroad) and andre greipel (omega-pharma lotto) after the bunch sprint on stage 11 of this year’s tour de france.  last season, they were teammates.  this season, they were bitter rivals.  both sides talked, and the media twisted things out of proportion.  but in the end, it’s all in the legs, and it came down to riding, not talking.

hug it out, boys.  a victory well-deserved.  sylvain chavanel (quickstep), don’t be jealous that you can’t get in on the bmc group hug.

top and bottom photos from steephill, cavendish photo from cycling news.

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the pro moment.

the spotless drivetrain.  the staple to every pro bike is the immaculately clean drivetrain.  everything from the cranks, chainrings, chain, derailleurs, and cassette is flawlessly clean, maintained daily by the mechanics of the team.  the components look better than brand new.  there isn’t an excess of chain lube, no grimy spots or packed dirt in the cassette, and not even a speck of grease on the chain links.  seeing a shot of a pro drivetrain is like witnessing the birth of a new galaxy in the universe.  the cleanliness is all-knowing, and infinitely flawless.  the awe and wonder of the spotless drivetrain is also tied to the rider.  pro cyclists deliver constant wattage that amateur cyclists barely ever see, and it’s only fitting that the mechanical components that ‘make them go’ follow suit.  the perfectly lubed drivetrain before every event.  a point-to-point component inspection before every event.  chain stretch, cassette wear, chainring wear, cable stretch…everything checked meticulously, and cleaned prior to races.  the dream drivetrain for worthy, pro cyclists.

perfect examples of spotless drivetrains.  my setups will never even come close, not even on their best days.  from top to bottom: philippe gilbert (omega-pharma lotto) rocking the berner rear derailleur cage on his campagnolo super record 11 at the tour de france, tom danielson (garmin-cervélo) with the sram red derailleur with shimano 7900 cassette/chain, and lars boom (rabobank) with a shimano 7970 di2 setup.

photos from bike radar.

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this week’s pro moment is a bit of a broad one: receiving cool prizes for proving yourself worthy.  there are different levels of complexity for this since there are various prizes and jerseys for young riders, stage winners, combative riders, points, general classification time, mountains, etc.  you know you’ve reached professional cycling at the highest level when your prizes no longer make sense from a bystander point of view.  I mean, if a ‘normal’ person saw a guy wearing a cycling kit, standing on a stage, holding a big block of cheese, what would they think?  probably that the cheese was an irrelavent prize of sorts.  but of course, prizes don’t need to make sense when you’re peter sagan, 21 years old, and taking wins at stage 3 of the tour de suisse.

congratulations thor hushovd, you raced well on your bicycle in this race, and to that, we gift you a small bundle of greeneries and a stuffed animal lion.  hold them up so we can take a picture!  awkward?  nope, just a pro moment.

and if you try really hard in a big stage race like contador did, you get a small bushel of greeneries with a red glass plaque that says exactly that – you tried really hard, and deserve a plaque.  pro cycling at it’s best.  filled with pro moments.

photos from steephill.

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the second weekly series I’m starting is called “the pro moment”.  I define a pro moment as being situation that pro cyclists find themselves in at fairly regular intervals since riding and racing their bikes come almost naturally.  topics will be everything from bike components, “looking” pro, daily routines, and a stash more.  I came up with the idea earlier this week, and wanted to start executing it every sunday.  hope you enjoy.

this week’s pro moment is small and simple.  the swinging gold necklace.  only exposed while ascending categorized climbs with the jersey halfway zipped down, the gold necklace is a staple of european pro-ness at the ultimate level.  the addition of an 18k gold wedding band is also acceptable, and adds more swing with every pedal stroke.  frank schleck (leopard-trek) shows a perfect execution of this.  his brother andy also wears a thin, gold necklace with a small medallion on it.  other pros do it as well:

jelle vanendert (omega-pharma lotto) sporting the thin gold chain with no hanging accessories.

tom danielson (garmin-cervélo) pulling a frank schleck.

in short, the presence of a thin gold chain swinging effortlessly around the neck while ascending a sustained, difficult climb is pro.  a silver, platinum, or even thickly linked gold chain is unacceptable, and only adds unnecessary weight.  accessories hanging on the gold chain must also be gold.  that’s just how it goes.

photos from steephill.

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