Archive | April, 2011

Colnago Master – Classic Italian

28 Apr
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Credit – TMLUK

 

Thomas Voeckler – his best year ever – Europcar’s French national champion !

25 Apr

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The same afternoon that Philippe Gilbert was winning the Flèche Wallonne atop the notorious Mur de Huy last Wednesday, another French-speaking rider was taking a hilltop stage victory at the Giro del Trentino in the Dolomite mountains of Italy. That would be Thomas Voeckler, the current French national champion, notching (like Gilbert) his sixth win of the year and cementing his leadership of the 2011 UCI Europe Tour.

 This has been the best season start ever for Voeckler, who most cycling fans remember as the charismatic young man who wore the yellow jersey for 10 days at the 2004 Tour de France before finally giving it up to Lance Armstrong in the Pyrénées. Seven years on, at age 31, Voeckler is more popular than ever in his home country and, along with Sylvain Chavanel, is its most successful rider.

Unusually, Voeckler has stayed with the same team throughout his 11 years as a pro, always with team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau, a former lieutenant of five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault. Based in the Vendée region of western France — where this year’s Tour starts — Voeckler has raced for Bernaudeau under five different sponsors: Bonjour (a one-time free newspaper), Brioches La Boulangère (a commercial bakery), Bouygues Telecom and BBox (mobile phone operators) and, from this year, Europcar (a Paris-based car rental company that also operates National and Alamo in Europe).

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Voeckler struggles to retain his yellow jersey on stage 13 of the 2004 Tour de France

  It was only because Voeckler (who had a 2011 contract ready to sign with Cofidis) said he would stick with Bernaudeau that the French team manager was able to clinch a multi-million-dollar deal with Europcar on the very last day for registering elite pro teams with the UCI last October. “We’re going through a difficult economic period,” Bernaudeau said at the time. “Thomas allowed us to find a solution.”

Voeckler has given instant payback to the sponsor. In February, he won the opening stage of the Mediterranean Tour after instigating one of the typical long-distance breakaways he favors, and he then took the overall title at the Tour du Haut Var, clinching it with an audacious downhill attack on the final stage.

 In March, he won two stages of Paris-Nice at the end of long, opportunistic breakaways, but his Pro Continental team didn’t get an invitation to ride Milan-San Remo on March 19. Instead, Voeckler raced the following day’s GP Cholet, the year’s first French Cup race, where he pulled off a brilliant solo win; after his team wound-up the pace, he surged clear inside the 3km marker and held off a 70-strong pack to win by less than a second.

Runner-up Tony Gallopin of FDJ said, “What a stud! He was the super-favorite and still did his stuff.” But Voeckler, who pulled of a similar, if shorter, winning attack at last September’s GP de Québec in Canada, put that fifth 2011 victory in perspective by saying: “Even if I’m happy to win, this isn’t Milan-San Remo. I wasn’t jumping clear on the Poggio.”

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Voeckler in his French National Champion jersey – wins the 4th stage of the 2011  Paris-Nice

 In the only major classic he rode in April, Voeckler finished in the peloton from which Tom Boonen took the victory at Ghent-Wevelgem, and he was prominent for much of the Tour of Flanders before arriving with the 33-strong pack that sprinted for 13th place. The Frenchman then took ninth overall at the Circuit de la Sarthe and fourth at the Tour du Finistère before heading to Italy’s Giro del Trentino.

After a short opening time trial (won by Team RadioShack’s Andreas Klöden), Voeckler saw that his only opportunity for a stage win was on the next day’s finish at Ledro Bezzecca, which featured a 12.5km, 4.5-percent climb before a gentle 5.5km uphill to the line. After an earlier break was brought back on the main part of the climb, Voeckler made a strong counterattack 7km from the finish; only Lampre-ISD’s Michele Scarponi, honing his form for the Giro d’Italia, could match the Europcar’s leader’s burst.

 “When I saw Scarponi was there,” Voeckler said, “I took a little breather. Then I took only three or four pulls to keep some energy ahead of the sprint. I knew that he was mainly looking at the GC.” That was a smart decision because the stage ended with Scarponi taking the overall lead after losing the sprint to Voeckler, who said, “I know the next two stages are too mountainous for me.” Even so, he finished Trentino in seventh overall, 1:12 behind overall winner Scarponi.

Voeckler’s six wins put him on a par with Alberto Contador as this season’s second-most prolific winner (Gilbert is first with seven after his Brabançonne-Amstel-Flèche-Liège quadruple); and with two teammates contributing three more 2011 victories Europcar is on a par with the average ProTeam with nine overall wins. Whether that will equate to his team obtaining a UCI ProTeam license in 2012 is a question that won’t be answered for another six months. But for now, Europcar and Voeckler are riding high.

From – Velo News

Lets take a closer look at the new Mavic R-SYS SLR wheels

24 Apr

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For sometime now, I have been in the market for a decent set of non carbon wheels. To be honest, its not been an easy task. Presently, I have been running full carbon wheels and its always a bit of a worry, especially when navigating along the UK’s finest pot hole roads etc. Also, I required a set of wheels which would suit most conditions. I did for a short while own a set of Campagnolo Shamal Ultra wheels, but aesthetically, they done nothing for me and felt they really didn’t work with my Colnago EPS. Being a fussy kind of a guy, for me the whole package has got to work. I suppose its the whole visual effect, combined with the enjoyment of riding the bike and wheels. I wanted a wheel which would offer superb build quality, design and engineering, ultimate performance and good value for money, not an easy find! After spending weeks researching this subject, I kept coming back to the new Mavic R-SYS SLR wheels. After consulting with a few friends in the trade and reading reviews from all over, I finally pulled the trigger on these French eye catchers!  

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Funny, I have never owned a set of Mavic wheels before, or come to think of it, a set of French wheels. So, it was quite a new adventure for me. Hopefully, I had made the right decision! So, it was au revoir to my Sunday best carbon wheels and bonjour to my new Matt black Mavic wheels. Now, just going back to that whole package thing. When my wheels arrived I immediately noticed the attention to detail. Unlike other sets of wheels you may wish to order, these wheels come with a top of the range race slick tyre, inner tubes and Mavic’s new Exalith brake pads which have been uniquely formulated for these wheels and made by Swisstop. Now, just looking at the tyres for a moment. Mavic haven’t just mounted any old tyre on these wheels just to sell them. No, they have also formulated a fantastic set of race spec tyres for these wheels. Now, these guys have put some thought into this! Also, they all come mounted and ready to rock and roll. All you need to do is place some air in the tyres and apply a cassette of your choice and you are ready to hit the road. Also, the wheel bags have been constructed with a filling inside which offers protection to your wheels when in transit and both come with a largish inside pocket for your skewers etc. Its a well thought out package and I for one am very pleased with the presentation. 

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Mavic have used an exclusive treatment for aluminium alloy that reinforces the rim while allowing Mavic to make it thinner, thus saving weight on the overall package. These wheels must be used with the new Mavic ‘Exalith brake pads which allow top quality braking. Now, these do take a bit of getting use to and you have to make sure the set up is correct against the wheel. Initially, they do sound a little like a gas turbine when applying the brakes and they will bring you to a halt very quickly if required. They do have a ‘bedding in’ period. Mavic also use Traction Compression. According to Mavic, ‘Tracomp’ carbon fibre spokes works in traction and compression: – under normal loads, wheel deflection is limited by the very high traction resistance of carbon fibres. – under greater loads, where a normal wheel would flex more because of one of its spoke loosening, Tracomp spokes enter into compression and keep supporting the rim, preventing any further wheel deflection.

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So, how do they ride? I met up with a few friends recently for the ‘maiden voyage’. Both guys were really struck on the wheel construction and overall finish. I tend to run with quite high pressures in my tyres. The tyres state that they will hold a maximum of 9 bar which is fine for me. Our ride took us through the rolling Kent countryside with a few good hills thrown in for good measure. When initially taking of with these wheels, they felt quite urgent. There was no sluggish feeling about them. Even with quite a high tyre pressure, these wheels were amazingly comfortable. Felt like I was riding on a velvet road. Just really smoothed out the whole ride feel. However, I was still very much connected to the ride feel, but without the harshness. These wheels are amazingly comfortable. Mavic state that these wheels weigh in at 1370 grams, which is quite light. Combined with the tyres, the wheels really pick up speed very quickly and I found it quite easy to maintain a good pace. Also, they felt rock solid and even under pressure of a steep hill climb, they did not flex or quiver. A Very confident set of wheels indeed and a complete joy to ride. So, combined with excellent performance and all round style, these wheels are a winner. With Mavic’s excellent customer care policy on these wheels, the owner can ride with confidence!    

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Big thanks to my neighbour for allowing me to use his new Caterham 7 sports car for the back drop!

 

Fake Colnago frames

21 Apr
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Folks, just recently I have spotted a couple of fake Colnago frames on that well know bidding site. If you do come across a fake Colnago – please report this to the company responsible for listing the sale. Also, please let Colnago Con Brio know. Like our friends over at Pinarello and De Rosa frames are being faked for sale on the open market. So, please buy your Colnago frame from an authorised dealer or if its used, know the history before you part with the cash! Take care and safe riding!

Voeckler wins at Trentino

20 Apr
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Voeckler out-smarted Italian ace Michele Scarponi to claim the stage finishing up an explosive final climb that saw the pack break up under pressure from the attacks. Scarponi slipped into the overall leader’s jersey while Voeckler moved into the top-5 overall after his sixth win on the 2011 campaign for the French nation champion. A four-man breakaway was swept up coming into the final decisive climb and Voeckler had the legs to follow the attacking Scarponi. The pair carved a 30-second lead on the chasing leaders and Voeckler kicked his way to another huge win for Colnago.

Colnago-CSF Inox had another strong outing as well, with Domenico Pozzovivo riding in with the front group to climb into seventh overall at 31 seconds back.

The four-day Trentino tour continues Thursday with the 170km third stage from Molino di Ledro to Fai della Paganella. The mountainous course includes three first-category climbs, with 11km final summit finish with ramps as steep as 7 percent.

Colnago Gran Fondo – USA – 2011

14 Apr

How long does it take you to unpack your Colnago ?

14 Apr