The Tour of Flanders is one of the toughest races on the calendar for both man and machine.
It’s why most riders swap their day-to-day race machine for something built specifically for the job in hand. For Cannondale rider Peter Sagan, that meant switching from the SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod to the Synapse Hi-Mod, which broke cover this time last year ahead of the 2013 cobbled Classics.
Meanwhile, Omega Pharma-QuickStep duo Tom Boonen and Zdenek Stybar left the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 in the mechanics truck and instead rode the American firm’s Classics machine, the S-Works Roubaix SL4.
Both the Synapse and the Roubaix are designed to take the Hell out of the Hellingen cobbled climbs of Flanders. The Synapse utilises Cannondale’s ‘SAVE Plus’ micro-suspension system, which uses a revised carbon fibre layup, complex tube profiles and a super-skinny seatpost to ease the pain of the pavé. The Roubaix, meanwhile, uses Specialized’s ‘Zertz’ viscoelastic inserts in the fork and seatstays to help dissipate vibrations before they reach the rider.
Riders also have a number of other tricks up their sleeves at the Classics, including wider tyres to soften the hammer blows dealt by the cobbles, and double-wrapped handlebar tape. Team mechanics will be even busier in the build-up to this Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, where the pavé is significantly rougher than the cobbles of Flanders.
But, for now, let’s take a closer look at the bikes ridden by Sagan, Boonen and Stybar at the Ronde van Vlaanderen.