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Old 04-15-08, 12:22 PM   #1
SEAcarlessTTLE
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wheels at Paris-Roubaix (minor spoilers)

Hm, I don't see a lot of pro race fan chitchat here, but I'll toss this out there anyway. If nothing else, maybe someone will tell me where to run off to find other fans...

So help me understand something here...what is the deal with the wheels at Paris-Roubaix this year? I'm not the most attentive fan, but I thought conventional wisdom was to ride aluminum rims with 32 spokes laced three-cross---and not for tradition but for durability. In a rough race like Paris-Roubaix, what's the advantage of deep dish carbon with lower spoke counts?

As a Slipstream fan, I was particularly baffled by Backstedt's choice of wheels, and now that I've heard he broke them, well, I'm baffled and disappointed. (Okay, so Maaskant's placing made me feel better.) (:

So is this a case of carbon wheelmakers' ambitions/marketing outstripping their engineering chops?
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Old 04-15-08, 12:27 PM   #2
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Magnus made the wrong choice. That's the bottom line.
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Old 04-15-08, 02:08 PM   #3
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I dunno - on a fast flat course a deep aero wheel has some advantages if it can take the beating. Zipp has this new Kevlar bridge technology (think that's what its called - they basically add Kevlar to the edge of the rims joining the sidewall and tire bed). It was supposed to increase the impact resistance of the wheel dramatically. I seem to recall a quote somewhere where I think in Paris/Roubaix the year before CSC only broke one wheel and that was in a crash into a curb - sorry, really need to go look up my facts I guess. Perhaps they thought the wheels were stout enough - dunno. Obviously they weren't - Hincapie also lost a wheel along the way I believe.

Of course the ultimate reason is probably because the sponsors are paying mega bucks to have their stuff ridden in Paris/Roubaix. I mean the marketing potential of being able to say your stuff is strong enough for this race is immeasurable. Of course its probably a little bit of a marketing nightmare when it fails completely. Doh.
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Old 04-15-08, 02:42 PM   #4
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I dunno - on a fast flat course a deep aero wheel has some advantages if it can take the beating. Zipp has this new Kevlar bridge technology (think that's what its called - they basically add Kevlar to the edge of the rims joining the sidewall and tire bed). It was supposed to increase the impact resistance of the wheel dramatically. I seem to recall a quote somewhere where I think in Paris/Roubaix the year before CSC only broke one wheel and that was in a crash into a curb - sorry, really need to go look up my facts I guess.
Interesting design idea (assuming it works!) (: A quick search suggests that at least Stuey's rig had 32h, box-section rims last year. Not sure about the rest of the team, but maybe some were running deep-section carbon. I might root around for some more photos later...always interesting to see what the teams ride in the extreme conditions of the classics.

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Of course the ultimate reason is probably because the sponsors are paying mega bucks to have their stuff ridden in Paris/Roubaix. I mean the marketing potential of being able to say your stuff is strong enough for this race is immeasurable. Of course its probably a little bit of a marketing nightmare when it fails completely. Doh.
*sigh* I was afraid it was sponsors and marketing muscle at work...but perhaps it was a bad gamble this year for Zipp and whoever made Hincapie's wheels.
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Old 04-15-08, 02:50 PM   #5
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It's like the Pepsi Challenge, where more people actually liked Coke better in the blind tests.

"We'll show them we're better with a real challe.... oops." Ok, back to your asphalt everyone, nothing to see here.

Last time Ballan got 3rd, he was riding steel. At least there were no frame failures that I heard of.
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Old 04-15-08, 03:01 PM   #6
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Interesting design idea (assuming it works!) (: A quick search suggests that at least Stuey's rig had 32h, box-section rims last year. Not sure about the rest of the team, but maybe some were running deep-section carbon. I might root around for some more photos later...always interesting to see what the teams ride in the extreme conditions of the classics.

*sigh* I was afraid it was sponsors and marketing muscle at work...but perhaps it was a bad gamble this year for Zipp and whoever made Hincapie's wheels.
It may not have been Paris/Roubaix last year but another race - or maybe it was for a season....really need to try and find it. Sorry. It was specifically in regards to CSC's wheels though.
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Old 04-15-08, 03:13 PM   #7
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Hincapie was riding Zipps for GW on Wednesday...
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Old 04-15-08, 04:57 PM   #8
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It may not have been Paris/Roubaix last year but another race - or maybe it was for a season....really need to try and find it. Sorry. It was specifically in regards to CSC's wheels though.
I read the same thing, and I think it was for the season. I think it was in a thread about the guy who gave up a rear wheel at the ToC to a CSC rider who thrashed his on a curb.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:17 PM   #9
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It may not have been Paris/Roubaix last year but another race - or maybe it was for a season....really need to try and find it. Sorry. It was specifically in regards to CSC's wheels though.
Last year, as we were developing the Carbon Bridge technology, we had the CSC boys do an off-season test run for us at Roubaix. Our first attempt, which we were pretty confident of, failed miserably and virtually immediately. We went through about 12 more interations spanning about 400 destroyed rims and arrived at what is now the production rim. CSC rode them in their reconnaissance rides and had zero issues but elected to ride the traditional Ambrosio wheels for Roubaix last year as they felt the stiffness of the new wheel was excessive for the extremes of certain pave sections. Lars had a mechanical in the midst of last year's race and switched to a bike with our wheels; he crashed soon after and managed to break one of the wheels, finishing on his initial bike instead.

In the interim, both CSC and Slipstream have ridden current production wheels throughout the Spring Classics this year. Slipstream has run our wheels throughout the Classics season, including Flanders and G-W, while most of CSC has done the same, with Fabian scoring some nice wins in adverse conditions.Maggy did one or two reconnaissance runs at Roubaix with our stock wheels and had no issues; unfortunately I am now hearing conflicting stories on whether he had tire or wheel issues and he is vacationing with family, so it will be a bit before we get that sorted.

The boys are free to ride whatever they choose-as you saw CSC stuck with their Ambrosios while Slipstream rode a mix of 202s, 303s, and 404s, including Martijn Maaskant's outstanding ride on what appears to be a set of 202s from the few pictures I have been able to find. For what it's worth, the initial plan was that we would cook up some special wheels for the Slipstream boys for Paris-Roubaix...they had successful initial tests and therefore elected to stick with the stock, off-the-shelf rims. I feel very bad on a personal as well as professional level that this hurt Maggy's quest to re-claim this title but take some solace in the other results.

To clarify, as can be seen from the pictures, George's run of bad luck at Paris-Roubaix was extended while riding a Hed Stinger; he has been riding mostly Zipp rims this season as part of the crew amongst High Road that pays for our wheels.

Last edited by Waldo; 04-17-08 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:21 PM   #10
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There was an issue in Pro Cycling mag (or Cyclesport) last year where CSC was testing wheels before P-R. They cracked 1-2 around the spoke holes. I believe it was Alan Johansen?
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Old 04-16-08, 09:25 PM   #11
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Last year, as we were developing the Carbon Bridge technology, we had the CSC boys do an off-season test run for us at Roubaix.
Was this when they also tested the new Vittoria tires? I think I read about it in Procycling.

Edit: I'm slow. I believe Cancellara & Michaelsen were testing them too.
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Old 04-16-08, 10:03 PM   #12
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Last year, as we were developing the Carbon Bridge technology, we had the CSC boys do an off-season test run for us at Roubaix.
Great post, very straightforward.

PR is a fairly unique event in that you're balancing speed vs. durability vs. comfort, weight being of minimal importance. The old school box rims had held an advantage in the latter two, Waldo's boys and the other carbon folks are obviously working hard to put their product on top.

My belief is that this will happen at some point, given that for the last several years all carbon bikes have dominated the results, having been refined to the point that they provide superior performance across the board. A properly designed, lower spoke count, higher profile wheel will be faster, it's a matter of getting it to survive and be complaint enough. In the mean time you'll see folks gamble on the cutting edge and there will be teething problems.
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Old 04-17-08, 02:59 AM   #13
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Last year, as we were developing the Carbon Bridge technology, we had the CSC boys do an off-season test run for us at Roubaix. Our first attempt, which we were pretty confident of, failed miserably and virtually immediately. We went through about 12 more interations spanning about 400 destroyed rims and arrived at what is now the production rim. CSC rode them in their reconnaissance rides and had zero issues but elected to ride the traditional Ambrosio wheels for Roubaix last year as they felt the stiffness of the new wheel was excessive for the extremes of certain pave sections. Lars had a mechanical in the midst of last year's race and switched to a bike with our wheels; he crashed soon after and managed to break one of the wheels, finishing on his initial bike instead.

In the interim, both CSC and Slipstream have ridden current production wheels throughout the Spring Classics this year. Slipstream has run our wheels throughout the Classics season, including Flanders and G-W, while most of CSC has done the same, with Fabian scoring some nice wins in adverse conditions.Maggy did one or two reconnaissance runs at Roubaix with our stock wheels and had no issues; unfortunately I am now hearing conflicting stories on whether he had tire or wheel issues and he is vacationing with family, so it will be a bit before we get that sorted.

The boys are free to ride whatever they choose-as you saw CSC stuck with their Ambrosios while Slipstream rode a mix of 202s, 303s, and 404s, including Martijn Maaskant's outstanding ride on what appears to be a set of 202s from the few pictures I have been able to find. For what it's worth, the initial plan was that we would cook up some special wheels for the Slipstream boys for Paris-Roubaix...they had successful initial tests and therefore elected to stick with the stock, off-the-shelf rims. I feel very bad on personal as well as professional level that this hurt Maggy's quest to re-claim this title but take some solace in the other results.

To clarify, as can be seen from the pictures, George's unfortunate continued run of bad luck at Paris -Roubaix was extended while riding a Hed Stinger; he has been riding mostly Zipp rims this season as part of the crew amongst High Road that pays for our wheels.
Great post - thanks. Yeah, I think it was one of your posts in another thread that I was thinking of all along. I've been watching the performance your wheels lately esp. since the carbon bridge technology has come out. I have a set of 404's and I really like the performance of them except for the durability. I currently have my rear wheel coming back to me from your facility for repair - for a cracked rim. I'm hoping the rim they replaced it with has the carbon bridge. (I was also concerned with how long it has taken for me to get the wheel back, but the shop I went through for the repair is probably partially to blame on that score). In any event, they certainly are the fastest wheel set I have ridden and would certainly provide an advantage on a flat course if they could take the beating. If you find out what happened with Maggy's wheels please let us know.
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Old 04-17-08, 02:43 PM   #14
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Hey, many thanks to Waldo for sharing an informative and personal insider glimpse.

Meanwhile, as long as I was looking around, here's an obviously biased fan's selection relevant photos from this year's race...

Magnus, pre-race and mid-race
http://www.cyclingnews.com/photos/20...0080413_093234
http://www.flickr.com/photos/slipstr...n/photostream/

Martijn, rolling to his fourth place in the velodrome
http://www.cyclingnews.com/photos/20...0080413_160144
http://www.flickr.com/photos/slipstr...n/photostream/

DS Lionel Marie carrying some wheels
http://www.flickr.com/photos/slipstr...n/photostream/
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Old 04-17-08, 07:51 PM   #15
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Was this when they also tested the new Vittoria tires? I think I read about it in Procycling.

Edit: I'm slow. I believe Cancellara & Michaelsen were testing them too.
You're right, they were experimenting with Vittorias as well; Fabian and Lars were there along with some others. I don't recall exactly who was there as the other engineer on that project got to go on that trip (and to the race itself).


Racer Ex, I definitely agree that it's only a matter of time before deeper carbon rims become the rule rather than the exception at P-R. The issue we've heard from the CSC boys is that they found it difficult to put the power down with the stiffer wheels we had for them last year, but we haven't been able to get all the feedback yet from the Slipstream boys on the newer wheels. In fact, we're still hearing conflicting accounts of whether Maggy had tire or wheel difficulties and can't reach him as he's on holiday...if anyone can confirm somehow I'd definitely appreciate it.

Ravenmore,
Sorry to hear of the issue with your wheel and delay in getting it back to you. As a pathetic excuse, our warranty guy missed a week while on tour with his band. He's back and we have hired another person to help speed things along, but there was certainly a period recently where things were a bit slow. Your new rim will employ the Carbon Bridge technology, as that is all we have on the shelves at this point.

SEAcarlessTTLE, thanks for the pictures.
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Old 04-17-08, 09:49 PM   #16
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Waldo - no worries, they wheel showed up today finally!



Rockets suggested I pluck the spokes to roughly guage tension though, and there seems to be a bit of variance. I might take a tensionmeter to them in the next couple of days.

It is a carbon bridge rim (according to the colored dot in the tire bed).
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Old 04-18-08, 01:38 AM   #17
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According to the Saris page with Martijn's power graphs...

http://www.saris.com/athletes/PermaL...189bc10c4.aspx

...he was on 303s. I hadn't ever looked at these graphs very closely before...pretty interesting for a bunch of lines, thanks to the annotations. Or maybe that's just a sign that I'm a hopelessly tech-obsessed racing fan.

That said, I'll just embrace it and ask...So what's the scoop on these Vittorias? Can shakeNbake or others point me at some more info? (:
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Old 04-18-08, 05:14 AM   #18
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The Vittoria Open Corsa CX are my favorite tubbie to run. Handle great. When Schwalbe gets their Ultremo out though I'll probably give those a whirl.
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Old 04-18-08, 06:12 AM   #19
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Boonens rig

http://www.cyclingnews.com/photos/20...gbBoonenBike01

Boonen anit no little guy.. and He gave these a thrashing.. it says he ditched the fancy fulcrums.. and the areo spokes.. (hid did use Sapims..).. this is a heavy wheel.. but he did factor in the finish..
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Old 04-18-08, 05:30 PM   #20
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Waldo - no worries, they wheel showed up today finally!



Rockets suggested I pluck the spokes to roughly guage tension though, and there seems to be a bit of variance. I might take a tensionmeter to them in the next couple of days.

It is a carbon bridge rim (according to the colored dot in the tire bed).
Cool, glad you finally got the wheel in (sorry again about the wait) and even got the obligatory garage door shot. I always liked that TCR paint job.

Due to the nature of molding a carbon fiber rim, it's not uncommon for there to be more variation in spoke tension than one would have in an aluminum rim. The spokes are stress relieved multiple times during the course of the build and we put a spot of Loctite on the threads, so it is unusual that it would de-tension in shipping, but that's not to say it doesn't happen. Keep me posted-I don't get to check here that often these days so a PM might be your best bet.

Enjoy!
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