With Carlos Sastre taking the big win of the year, one of the teams to watch this year has been Team CSC, and it’s not unfair to say that their choice to ride Cervelo is part of the equation. After all, it’s the brand that has had consecutive victories in Paris-Roubaix through CSC riders Fabian Cancellara and Stuart O'Grady.

Cervelo have made several top performance bikes available to the riders, with the super-stiff andlightweight R3 SL and the aerodynamic Soloist both seen in action during the race. For the ascent up stage 17's Alpe d’Huez however, the team's lead riders, and the race's big contenders, chose the scales-defying R3 SL.

A nice line of Cervelo bikes (Pic Chris Wallis)

The R3 SL is an interesting frame to look at, having been designed with the help of Finite Element Analysis software, which has resulted in the unique “Squoval" downtube, along with a multi-shaped top tube and multi-shaped asymmetrical seat tube.

While the front of the frame is all large oversize tubes, the rear triangle is a collection of incredibly thin tubes. As much carbon as possible has been removed from the seat stays. The result is said to pass the “Cancellara-test" on the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix.

Ensuring the frame makes use of every precious watt that the Shleck brothers and Carlos Sastre can muster, the bottom bracket is hugely oversized. This provides a large area of contact for the downtube and, along with the tall chainstays, provides an impressive stiffness-to-weight ratio.

Taking a look at one-time yellow jersey wearer Frank Shleck, we see his R3 SL is built up with a similiarly weight-defying build. 3T supplies the handlebars and stem, Prologo the in-vogue Scratch TR saddle, Speedplay the pedals and Zipp their 202 wheels. Team CSC isn’t sponsored by Shimano, and instead chooses to purchase the components it deems will give its riders the best possible advantage. Each bike is fitted with Shimano’s Dura-Ace 7800 groupset, with FSA supplying its K-Force Light carbon chainset with ceramic bearings.

Phil White, cofounder of Cervélo Cycles, says: "The partnership between Team CSC and Cervélo has led to excellent results.

"The team is tremendously organized and the riders have won great victories on our bikes. Originally we entered this partnership due to the visions of Bjarne Riis, and we've not been disappointed. We have used the feedback given by him and the riders to make our bikes even better and at the same time it's made Cervélo one of the most exposed cycle brands on the market. It makes me very proud to hear that the riders are satisfied with our bikes."

  • www.cervelo.com
  • www.ultimatepursuits.co.uk