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Back 5.1.2017

Zipp at the Spring Classics – innovation, determination, and panache

Falling in love with the Spring Classics is a rite of passage for most every cycling fan. For Zipp, the Spring Classics are an opportunity to push the boundaries of technology amid the sport’s most historic and demanding backdrops, whether it’s the Milan Sanremo’s Poggio, Ronde van Vlaanderren and Paris-Roubaix’s cobbles, or Ardennes’ climbs.

Over the past couple of months, we’ve relived memorable moments of Zipp athletes past and present at the Spring Classics through weekly #ThrowbackThursday posts on @ZippSpeed Twitter and Instagram, and Zipp Facebook. Now we bring together all of those photos plus a few additional inspirational milestones.

All photos © Tim De Waele


Spaniard Carlos Sastre competes in the 2003 Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Sastre, a formidable climber, rode on Zipp wheels while on CSC and the Cervélo TestTeam. His victory in the 2008 Tour de France is his crowning achievement on the bike. One of his yellow jerseys is displayed in Zipp’s Indianapolis facility.



Just one day after turning 26 years old, Frank Schleck, wearing the national champion’s jersey of Luxemburg, attacked in the final kilometers to springboard to victory in the 2006 Amstel Gold Race. This would serve as one of the most significant victories of Schleck’s career. It also was a crucial early Spring Classics accomplishment for Zipp with the CSC star riding 404s on the day.


Stuart O’Grady forges ahead in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne in March 2006. Not that he’s riding a Zipp 303 front and a deeper 404 rear wheel. Note also the rides around him on traditional aluminum wheels. Stuey was a determined and memorable rider, and we’re proud to honor him.


This image captured one Monumental highlight of Fabian Cancellara’s Monumental career. In March 2008, he scored a brilliant victory when he escaped a group of around a dozen top riders to win the 99th Milan-San Remo in Italy. He rode Zipp 808s that day, a perfect aero advantage for his solo escape. Cancellara, now retired, would go on to become of the more accomplished and inspiring Classics riders of all time.


In February 2009, Norwegian star Thor Hushovd of the then newly launched Cervélo TestTeam thundered to victory in the Het Nieuwsblad Classic in Belgium aboard Zipp 303s. This was a crucial early victory proving precision-engineered carbon wheels could be an advantage on the cobbles. At the time, Cervélo TestTeam stood out for riding Zipp carbon wheels in the cobbled classics at a time many teams still rode traditional aluminum rims. That day in Belgium, three Cervélo TestTeam placed three riders in the top eight.


Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland won the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix back to back aboard Zipp 303s in 2010. This accomplishment also was a key moment in Zipp’s own history, as it marked the first time that carbon wheels were ridden to victory in the two most famous cobbled classics. Several years before that Cancellara had been part of a group of pros from the CSC team to test prototype carbon wheels on the Paris-Roubaix’s Forest of Arenberg sector, quickly breaking every test wheel. The failure sent Zipp engineers back to Indianapolis with renewed determination to design a carbon wheel to excel on the cobbles. The result was the 303 Cancellara rode to his Flanders and Roubaix victories in 2010. The lessons learned from designing the 303 helped lead to the next generations of Zipp innovations, including Firecrest and NSW rim technologies. We congratulate Cancellara on an amazing career.


For the second straight year, the Tour of Flanders was won aboard Zipp 303s. Belgian Nick Nuyens was strong on the Muur van Geraardsbergen and in the final kilometers of the 2011 Tour of Flanders. This would be the middle of the 303s three-peat in Flanders between Cancellara’s win in 2010 and Tom Boonen’s in 2012.


Belgian Tom Boonen is an all-time great. Tornado Tom retired after this year’s Paris-Roubaix. We were honored to work with Tom for part of his legendary career, including his stellar 2012 season. That year he won the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix (and numerous other races) all the while entertaining fans with his strength and determination on the bike and friendly personality off it. While with us, his go-to wheelset was the 303 for the Spring Classics. In 2012, he told us how the first pair of wheels he bought as a youngster in the mid-1990s were Zipp wheels. “If you had a carbon pair of wheels you were already a big shot, huh?” We congratulate Tom Boonen on his brilliant career. 


Driving snow and freezing rain made the 2013 edition of Milan-San Remo miserable and memorable for the 200 riders who started. The race even featured a “half time” as the event was suspended and riders transferred to a restart of a shortened route due to the atrocious conditions. In the end, German Gerald Ciolek of MTN-Qhubeka – a wildcard entry – outsprinted stars Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara for the victory. Ciolek rode a combo 303 Firecrest front, 404 Firecrest rear on the day optimizing aero and stability for the long day.

Roman Kreuziger’s late-race attack resulted in a brilliant solo victory in the 2013 Amstel Gold race as the rider from the Czech Republic held off the final surge from his rivals on the famed Cauberg climb. Kreuziger rode Zipp 303s and Zipp bars, stems, and seatpost.



Dutchman Niki Terpstra launched his ultimately successful solo attack with about 6km remaining in the 2014 Paris-Roubaix. The final selection of 11 included formidable rivals Fabian Cancellara, Peter Sagan and Sep Vanmarcke for also Terpstra and OPQS teammates Tom Boonen and Zdenek Stybar. He rode Zipp 303s with Zipp Service Course SL bars, stems, and seatpost.



American Megan Guarnier in March soloed to victory in the inaugural edition of the women’s Strade Bianche in Italy aboard Zipp 303 Firecrest and Zipp Service Course SL bars, stems, and seatpost. The Women’s Strade Bianche covered 103km from San Gimignano to the scenic city of Siena including 17km of dirt/ gravel roads spread across five sectors. The marked the emergence of Guarnier of Boels-Dolmans as one of the world’s best. Guarnier has made the 303 her go-to wheelset for most every situation.



Lizzie Deignan’s brilliant victory in the 2016 Elite Women’s Ronde van Vlaanderen certainly is worth revisiting. The British star even lists winning the Tour of Flanders while wearing the rainbow jersey of world champion as her best performance to date, according to the Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team website. The 13th edition of the Women’s Ronde van Vlaanderen, after 140-kilometers, came down to a sprint finish between Deignan and Emma Johansson of Sweden. For the race, Deignan rode the multi-Ronde winning wheelset, the 303 Firecrest. 



Alexander Kristoff of Norway is a formidable sprinter and classics specialist. The Tour of Flanders is a race he’s won before and remained one of the key objectives for Team Katusha-Alpecin’s Spring campaign. In the end, Kristoff would finish fifth. 

Anna van der Breggen and her Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team scored a trifecta of excellence this month. The Dutch star completed a sweep of the three Ardennes classics with Sunday’s triumphs at Liège-Bastogne-Liège following victories in Flèche Wallonne and the Amstel Gold Race. What’s more, van Der Breggen was joined by teammate Lizzie Deignan on the podium in all three races, giving Boels-Dolmans a memorable 1-2 punch. Simply put, they conquered the competition over some of the most challenging and famous terrain of the Spring Classics, the steep hills and narrow lanes of Belgium and the Netherlands.

A special thanks to Tim De Waele for so many great years of cycling photography