2010 Tour de France Preview
When 97th Tour de France rolls out of Rotterdam on Saturday, Zipp will once again be heavily represented among the major contenders. Each of our three teams – Astana Cycling Team, Cervélo TestTeam, and Team Saxo Bank – carries serious ambitions and high expectations.
We’re backing them up with the industry’s broadest range of race-ready wheels: six options from the 202 climbing wheel to the Super-9 disc. Here’s where we expect to see them shine.
The superlight 202 will be the wheel of choice as the GC leaders trade blows in the Alps and Pyrenees. Winner of the 2007 and 2009 Tours, Astana’s Alberto Contador is the clear pre-race favorite. But last year’s 5th and 2nd place finishers, Frank and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), could have the firepower to make this their year. Cervélo’s Carlos Sastre is coming off an injury but the 2008 Tour champion is always a rider to watch in the mountains.
Riding the rugged-yet-aero 303 wheelset, Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) put on a clinic at this spring’s Paris-Roubaix while Thor Hushovd (Cervélo) placed second. Stage 3 of the Tour will traverse many of those same cobblestone roads, where Saxo Bank’s Stuart O’Grady is another former winner. Riders will also select the lightweight 303 on moderate mountain stages, as Cervélo’s Heinrich Haussler did for a memorable stage win in 2009. Unfortunately, he’ll miss this year’s Tour due to a knee injury.
The versatile 404 is never a bad choice on any terrain for attacking all-arounders like Astana’s Alexander Vinokourov or Saxo Bank’s Nicki Sorensen, who won a stage last year on the 404. Its balance of aerodynamics and stable handling should prove especially useful in the strong crosswinds expected on Stage 1 from Rotterdam to Brussels. The 404 could also make an appearance on the punchy climbs of Stages 2 and 13.
Both sprinters and time trialists love the stiffness and aerodynamics of the 808. On flat stages, Cervélo’s formidable crew of leadout riders will likely take advantage of its 81mm-deep profile as they support Hushovd’s quest to defend the Green Jersey he won last year. Although the 808 is not quite as fast as the 1080 in the time trials, it will still be a popular choice among riders who are neither TT specialists nor GC hopefuls.
There’s no faster combination than a 1080 front wheel and Super-9 disc for flat time trials like the Tour’s Prologue and Stage 19. Cancellara’s unparalleled track record makes him the man to beat in the “race of truth”, although Contador’s TT win at last year’s Tour established him among the world’s best. Meanwhile, the Schleck brothers have worked hard to improve in the discipline and Frank’s time trial performance to win last month’s Tour de Suisse surprised many.