Paris-Roubaix is the toughest testing ground of all – it’s jagged, shark’s tooth cobbles pushing both man and machine to the limit.
Each year, the Hell of the North sees riders swap their regular, team-issue bikes for machines designed to tame the cobbles.
Trek unveiled the Domane ‘endurance’ bike in 2012, now ridden year-round by Paris-Roubaix champion Fabian Cancellara regardless of the terrain, while last week Bianchi introduced the ‘vibration cancelling’ Infinito CV frame. Team mechanics prepare each bike to ensure it can withstand 254km of the most challenging terrain in cycling.
Balint Hamvas, photographer and the man behind the Cyclo-Cross 2012/13 photo book, was there for RoadCyclingUK to scope out the latest cobble-taming tech, including a radical update to the Cannondale’s Synapse.
Cannondale Pro Cycling riders have been using the latest update to the Cannondale Synapse throughout the cobbled Classics season. It’s a radical redesign, most notably due to the cut-out on the seattube above the bottom bracket. The bike is a prototype, with no decals to identify it, but more details will be released in a couple of weeks
Unsurprisingly, it’s a machine designed for comfort, with skinny, flattened seatstays, while the aero seatclamp looks very similar to the design found on the Slice RS time trial bike. Peter Sagan rode the new machine to victory at Ghent-Wevelgem and second at the Tour of Flanders
A custom Spartacus paint job for Fabian Cancellara’s Trek Domane 6-Series
This is Alex Dowsett’s Pinarello DogmaK (the Italian firm’s ‘comfort’ bike, with a more relaxed geometry). It’s equipped with Campagnolo Super Record EPS – note how the battery has been taped to the downtube to ensure it didn’t rattle off on the pavé sectors
This year’s edition of Paris-Roubaix was dry and dusty but Ag2r La Mondiale still opted for the Focus Mares CX cyclo-cross bike thanks to it’s extra tyre clearance and stable handling
Astana rode the Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL4 but downgraded to mechanical Campagnolo Chorus, while the team’s spare bikes were Venges with Super Record EPS
This is 2011 Paris-Roubaix champion Johan Vansummeren’s Cervelo R3 with Rotor Q-Rings and 3D+ cranks
No change for Heinrich Haussler’s IAM Cycling team, who used their regular Scott Foil aero bikes
Cofidis also rode the same LOOK 695s they use year-round
A Netapp-Endura mechanic adds extra padding to Zak Dempster’s handlebar to help take the sting out of the cobbles
Saxo-Tinkoff had these custom-made tubs on Zipp wheels
All photos © Balint Hamvas