Not every rider at Paris-Roubaix swapped their regular race rig for an ‘endurance’ machine built specifically for the job in hand.
Katusha’s eight riders – including Luca Paolini – rolled out of Compiègne on the super-light Canyon Ultimate SLX, which you’re just as likely to see at the Tour de France. The Russian team’s sponsor, Canyon (who also provide bikes to Movistar), doesn’t have a Classics-specific machine in its range but the Ultimate CF SLX has plenty of clearance for the plush tyres popular at Paris-Roubaix, with Paolini’s machine wearing rebadged FMB Paris-Roubaix tubulars.
Katusha’s team mechanics also took a series of measure to protect Paolini – a one-day specialist whose palmares includes victory at the 2013 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, a World Championship bronze medal, and a stage win apiece at the Giro d’Italia (2013) and Vuelta a Espana (2009) – from the brutal pavé of Paris-Roubaix.
The 37-year-old peloton veteran rode with a cyclo-cross ‘suicide brake’ rigged up to his handlebar to provide quick access to the rear brake, while a layer of gel pads underneath Paolini’s ‘bar tape helped soften the impact of the rough cobbles. Paolini also swapped his regular 53-39t chainrings for a 53-46t setup with a larger inner ring, as is standard at Paris-Roubaix thanks to the flat course.