Athlete: Eric Bernard
Age Group: M35-39
Frame: Scott Plasma 3
Components: SRAM Red
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How can you not love Zipp Wheels?
When the 97th Tour de France rolled out of Rotterdam on Saturday, Zipp will once again be heavily represented among the major contenders. Each of our three teams – Astana Cycling Team, Cervélo Test Team, and Team Saxo Bank – carry serious ambitions and high expectations. (image – SaxoBank loaded and ready to ride)
We’re backing them up with the industry’s broadest range of race-ready wheels: six options from the 202 climbing wheel to the Super-9 disc. Here’s where we expect to see them shine.
The super light 202 will be the wheel of choice as the GC leaders trade blows in the Alps and Pyrenees. Winner of the 2007 and 2009 Tours, Astana’s Alberto Contador is the clear pre-race favorite. But last year’s 5th and 2nd place finishers, Frank and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), could have the firepower to make this their year. Cervélo’s Carlos Sastre is coming off an injury but the 2008 Tour champion is always a rider to watch in the mountains.
Riding the rugged-yet-aero 303 wheelset, Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) put on a clinic at this spring’s Paris-Roubaix while Thor Hushovd (Cervélo) placed second. Stage 3 of the Tour will traverse many of those same cobblestone roads, where Saxo Bank’s Stuart O’Grady is another former winner. Riders will also select the lightweight 303 on moderate mountain stages, as Cervélo’s Heinrich Haussler did for a memorable stage win in 2009. Unfortunately, he’ll miss this year’s Tour due to a knee injury. (image – Special Edition bikes for Astana’s Contador and Vinokourov)
The versatile 404 is never a bad choice on any terrain for attacking all-arounders like Astana’s Alexander Vinokourov or Saxo Bank’s Nicki Sorensen, who won a stage last year on the 404. Its balance of aerodynamics and stable handling should prove especially useful in the strong crosswinds expected on Stage 1 from Rotterdam to Brussels. The 404 could also make an appearance on the punchy climbs of Stages 2 and 13.
Both sprinters and time trialists love the stiffness and aerodynamics of the 808. On flat stages, Cervélo’s formidable crew of leadout riders will likely take advantage of its 81mm-deep profile as they support Hushovd’s quest to defend the Green Jersey he won last year. Although the 808 is not quite as fast as the 1080 in the time trials, it will still be a popular choice among riders who are neither TT specialists nor GC hopefuls.
There’s no faster combination than a 1080 front wheel and Super-9 disc for flat time trials like the Tour’s Prologue and Stage 19. Cancellara’s unparalleled track record makes him the man to beat in the “race of truth”, although Contador’s TT win at last year’s Tour established him among the world’s best. Meanwhile, the Schleck brothers have worked hard to improve in the discipline and Frank’s time trial performance to win last month’s Tour de Suisse surprised many.
During the development process for the 404 Carbon Clincher, chemists and engineers from Zipp’s composites supplier made repeated visits to Zipp’s R&D lab to test and refine the new technology, which offers more consistent braking performance and prevents spikes in tire pressure on long descents.
According to Jim Douglas, Zipp product manager for wheels, “The versatility and popularity of the Zipp 404 made it a natural choice for carbon clincher. The performance characteristics of the 404, combined with the functionality of our carbon clincher and Firecrest rim shape will make it a success among triathletes and road racers alike.”
Indeed, the 58mm-deep 404 has long been a favorite of Zipp athletes for long-course triathlons, field sprints, rolling breakaways, and even mountain stages.
Like all Zipp carbon wheels, the 404 Carbon Clincher uses rims manufactured in-house by Zipp, premium Sapim CX-Ray spokes (16 front/20 rear), and US-made hubs with Swiss steel bearings.
Suggested retail price is $2700 U.S. per wheelset.
It’s no surprise that the world’s fastest riders want the world’s fastest wheels, and Zipp’s lineup of teams for 2010 surpasses that of any year in our history. Here’s a preview of who’ll be riding Zipp wheels this year.
TEAM SAXO BANK
Since 2004, our partnership with Bjarne Riis’ program has yielded nothing but results, on the road and in the design lab. The team has won world championships, Olympic gold, Spring Classics, the Tour de France, and countless other races. Their testing and feedback have helped make Zipp wheels lighter, stronger, and faster.
Team Saxo Bank’s 2010 roster is as versatile as ever. Fabian Cancellara will look to retain his title as the world’s best time trialist and return to top form in the Spring Classics after last year’s injury-plagued early season. Meanwhile, Frank and Andy Schleck will hunt for wins in the hillier Classics and build their GC form for the Tour de France.
Key wheel: The new Super-9 disc will play an important role as the Schlecks improve their time trial performances and Cancellara continues to dominate in the race against the clock.
Last year, Cervélo TestTeam’s debut season included a strong campaign in the Spring Classics, multiple stage wins in each of the Grand Tours, and capturing the green jersey at the Tour de France. Meanwhile, Cervélo’s women’s team won the Giro d’Italia and La Grande Boucle. In 2010, the TestTeam will once again be on Zipp wheels as they make the transition from upstart to established powerhouse.
Cervélo TestTeam has a shot to win almost any race. On the men’s team, Thor Hushovd and Heinrich Haussler offer balance for the Classics and Tour de France stage wins. Carlos Sastre’s Tour victory in 2008 places him in the upper echelon of GC contenders, along with stage race standouts Claudia Haeusler and Emma Pooley on the women’s team.
Key wheel: The supremely versatile 303 will provide strength and toughness in the Spring Classics along with light weight and aerodynamics for breakaways in Grand Tour transition stages.
ASTANA CYCLING TEAM
The final addition to Zipp’s 2010 sponsorship roster was a big one. The revamped Astana Cycling Team features two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, 2006 Tour winner Oscar Pereiro, and Alexander Vinokourov. Like Team Saxo Bank, Astana will be riding Specialized bikes with Zipp wheels and SRAM components.
Having won the last four Grand Tours he’s contested, Contador will again be the odds-on favorite for the 2010 Tour de France. But he’s not Astana’s only card to play. Vinokourov, Pereiro, and sprinter Allan Davis are all experienced race winners.
Key wheel: Astana will rely on Contador’s climbing ability to deliver a third Tour win, and he’ll rely on the Zipp 202 in the high mountains.
All three programs will have access to Zipp’s full range of high-performance race wheels, all made by hand in Speedway, Indiana: the 202 climbing wheel; the all-around 303 and 404 models; the 808 and 1080 wind tunnel tuned wheels; and the Super-9, Sub-9, and 900 discs. No other company offers as many options to suit all conditions and terrain.
Photo credits: Tim De Waele