Ardennes week is almost here, which means it's time to replace those 46t chain rings with the 39t. And there's no need for the heavy duty frames, canti's, 27mm tires, box rim 36 spoke wheels and all the other tidbits that made the previous week so much fun (ok fun to tech nerds..). Now the racers will be back on their 15lb super quick race machines, with carbon everywhere imaginable and skinny tires again. Durability and comfort over nasty cobbles is no longer a concern.
What did I learn last weekend? In the end, despite all the fun talk about modified cross bikes (and there were plenty of those out there), it was a guy (Boonen) on a fairly standard road bike (Ok, the Specialized Roubaix is not exactly your average road bike, but it's no cross bike either) with bigger tires took the prize. The rest of the podium included Pippo on his fairly standard Ridley with carbon rims and 23mm tires. I haven't seen third place finisher Thor's bike, but I suspect he was on a Cervelo R3 or maybe the RS with Zipp 303's. It just goes to show what advances have been made in carbon fiber technology in a relatively short time.
Boonen took chances, handled his 18.3 lb bike brilliantly, stayed out of trouble and eventually won going away. He IS that good, but the last 2 P-R's were won on the Roubaix and Tommeke seemed to just get stronger as the race progressed. The last 4 P-R's were won on carbon bikes designed to dampen vibrations (the R3 with it's pencil-thin seat stays and the Roubaix with it's Zertz inserts). Coincidence? Perhaps, but it sure was a fun race watching the equipment tested to the extreme.
Now back to those boring old climbers bikes....