Italy’s Alessandro Ballan (Lampre)
scored a notable victory in April 2007 when the he beat Tom Boonen on his
home ground to win the Tour of Flanders. Ballan’s mount for that day and throughout the 2007
the season has been a Wilier Le Roi. The Tour de France bike (No 10) featured
here differs little from his Flanders winning bike, which merely had a longer fork rake
to help over the Flanders cobbles.
The Wilier Le Roi is made in a local workshop
The heart of the bike is the ‘multi-monocoque’ carbon frame. This is constructed from carbon
tubes joined together using a carbon fibre wrap. Where necessary, as for the sprinters in the Lampre squad, an extra layer of carbon weave may be
added. The Lampre team has the
choice of the newer and lighter Cento frame, which is preferred
by the diminutive Damiano Cunego, or the older Le Roi. It is the Le Roi that
remains popular with riders such as Ballan.
Instead of a single mould for the main triangle, there are several moulds, each forming an individual monocoque section that may comprise more than one frame tube.
When the monocoques are ready, each one with its unique mould for the required
length and inclination, they are assembled and wrapped. Then the carbon seat stay and
chain stay are attached.
At this point begins the most delicate phase of production, the manual reinforcement
of the pre-peg weave on the parts of the frame that undergo the most stress
during riding. These are the head tube, the bottom bracket, and the intersection
of the seat stays with the seat tube. The wrap is then placed under pressure to drive out air voids and heated to cure the resin.
Wilier say, ‘This method allows us to produce frames weighing less than 1kg
and with technical characteristics of the highest quality. The weave used to
build these frames constitutes a balanced mix of the fibres 40T, 30T, and 24T.
Each of them has different degrees of resistance and flexibility. 30t is the
most frequently used because it has the most strength, while 40T has the highest modulus of
elasticity. 24T accounts for the smaller percentage in the mix. It is normally
used in bicycle forks.’
The bike is finished with a Campagnolo Record Carbon groupset and Fulcrum
wheels. ITM bars and stem are matched with a Ritchey carbon seat post, a Fizik Arione saddle
and Look Keo Carbon pedals. Mizuno straight-blade carbon forks complete the
Marco Pantani and historic Wiliers – click
Multi-monocoque carbon frame
ITM alloy bars and stem
Ritchey carbon seat post and Fizik saddle
Wavy rear stays
Mizuno straight carbon forks
Website – www.wilierbikes.co.uk