Monday, April 22, 2024

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Kuurne-Bruxelles-KuurneIt was Sean Connery’s character in the film “The Untouchables” who suggested you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight and it was clear that the weapons of choice at the opening classics weekend in Belgium would contribute to the outcome and individual’s performance.

Having wandered around the teams at both the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and KBK it became clear there was a lot of nice kit being readied to race.

Weapons of choice?

Well the pro’s do get paid to ride them so ask a pro what’s the best bike he has ever ridden and common sense will normally dictate they confirm it’s the one they are currently riding. Sensible response, however what about the weekend warriors or those who like to have the show pony even if it’s not being tested to the max, what would you choose?

Let’s start with something that isn’t available at your local bike shop, the Shimano neutral service bike, Di2 equipped although no idea who makes the frame these bikes don’t have a hard life. Ever seen one being used by a pro?

A good end of year purchase should Shimano decide to offload them. Note the quick release on the seat tube for rapid adjustment.

Shimano Photo©Callum McGregor

Next we spotted what appeared to be the only team on disc breaks, the Isaac’s of Team Roompot. These looked nice with slim line discs, got to keep that team car close though and don’t look to Shimano service car for assistance.

Isaac discs. Photo©Callum McGregor

The Canyons of Katusha were lined up and looking like serious pieces of kit. I like the one piece aero bar and stem. Stealth bombers in formation.

We also noticed they were fitted up with the new SRAM wireless electronic gear system, it looked smart and must surely be the future.

Katyusha’s Canyons. Photo©Callum McGregor
Canyon Electronic Front Mech. Photo©Callum McGregor
Electronic Rear Mech on the Canyons. Photo©Callum McGregor

Where next?

The Pinarellos of Sky are not to everyone’s taste, with the melted seat stays I’ve never been super keen. That said they are immaculately presented and proportioned with Mikal Golas looking the king of cool on his, Sunday morning at Kuurne.

Team Sky’s Pinarello. Photo©Callum McGregor
Properly printed berg notes, natch. Photo©Callum McGregor

From the Pinarellos of Team Sky we spot the Lapierre’s of FdeJ. The seat stays here look like an evolution of GT’s of the nineties.

In carbon it looks more sculpted although the mainly black paint job is not as nice as previous years. A French team on a French bike, something of a rarity these days.

Lapierre’s funky seat arrangement. Photo©Callum McGregor

The other French team on home grow hardware is the Fortuneo Vital Concept team on the Marmite (love or loath) Look 795. I’m a marmite man. They look smart with the American classic carbon wheelsets.

LOOK front end. Photo©Callum McGregor

Meanwhile IAM and Orica GreenEdge are on American Scotts. The steerer and extension set up looked a bit odd, aero I guess, although it doesn’t grab attention like the Look.

Scott Foil detail. Photo©Callum McGregor
The Scott Foils ready to go. Photo©Callum McGregor

One guy who proved over the weekend that his of choice bike was more than up to the task (apart from GVA on his BMC, and Jasper Stuyven on his Trek) was Scott Thwaites, Bora Argon 18, who with a 16th in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and a 10th in KBK – and more recently 2nd in Le Saym, has some fine form.

The bike in question a cool looking Argon 18, with nice Vision wheels, filled in chain rings and aero, concealed front Argon TDP braking system.. The black and red worked better for me than the Lapierre’s.

Thwaites’ Argon. Photo©Callum McGregor

The Colnagos’ of Crelan Vastgoedservice got a mixed response, anything with the prancing horse Ferrari logo has got to be cool, right?

But with SRAM not Campagnolo equipment the traditionalists (Dave…) were not impressed . Oh, and the back break tucked under the chain stays at the bottom bracket has got to be a crud-catcher.

Colnago rear brake setup. Photo©Callum McGregor
Collage’s still look great. Photo©Callum McGregor
The front brake on the Treks look great. Photo©Callum McGregor

The One Pro Cycling, Factor bikes are the business; nice Black Inc carbon wheels adding to the look. Speedlights, Di2 and a cool paint job. We like a lot.

Lovely Factor. Photo©Callum McGregor
Black Ice wheels. Photo©Callum McGregor

The paint job on the Wilier bikes of Southeast Venezuela caught the eye, Pippo Pozzato can make any bike look cool and with the flashes of flouro on clothing and bike it worked when you think it really shouldn’t.

Fluoro flashes on the Wiliers. Photo©Callum McGregor
Southeast’s Wiliers. Photo©Callum McGregor.

From the speed weaponry of the pro’s, over at the juniors camp we spotted a couple of bikes that looked the business, with the paint job on the aluminium Specialized impressing and the Python bike which landed a top ten spot.

Pythons. Photo©Callum McGregor

I reckon Mr Connery’s character would have approved of the teams weapons brought to the opening weekend of hostilities that starts the classic season.

There’s much more to come and the winning bikes will I’m sure prove the manufacturers’ investments worthwhile.

Let the battles begin.