August 2014: The road.cc tech team stalk the halls of the not yet open Eurobike trade show when we’re confronted by a freshly minted piece of Tour de France history - a mud spattered Bianchi Infinito CV that eight weeks previously had been ridden to victory by Lars Boom in what would go down as one of the great stages of that year’s race and one of the great rides in modern Tour history.
Stage 5 saw the 2014 Tour tackle seven sectors of the Paris Roubaix pave on a day when the weather flicked back three months to test the riders with what would have been a bad day in April let alone July. Boom smashed it for Belkin on the Infinito CV - soloing off the front towards the end of the stage while behind him Nibali extended his hold on the general classification and a crash damaged Chris Froome abandoned.
In the Infinito CV Boom had just the bike for the stage, Bianchi's fast endurance bike had been launched at Paris Roubaix the year before and was the reigning road.cc Bike of the Year - basically it set the benchmark for bump absorbing road bike tech and, whisper it, probably still does.
There are no elastomer inserts or frame decouplers here - instead a visco-elastic layer incorporated in the carbon layup + some clever frame profiling combine to filter out high frequency vibrations.
Boom would still have felt those big hits, but perhaps slightly less of each one. At the launch we rode the Carrefour and a couple of other sections of the pave - I was still bouncing around all over the place*, but it turned that this was part of one of the Belgian journos’ training loops (lucky lad) and he reckoned it took something out of the hits making for a less fatiguing ride.
Where I noticed the difference was when we turned off the pave and on to a stretch of road from which the top layer had been scraped prior to resurfacing instead of vibrating like a drill the Infinito just floated over it - you could barely feel a thing through the bars. Lucky Lars.
Eight weeks later here was his bike still covered in Roubaix grit and grime, the route notes still taped to the stem. Bianchi know history when they see it plus it helps that the next day Boom and his Belkin team were probably all back on the all out race machine that was and is the Bianchi Oltre XR3.
*Mat managed to ride part of it no-hands.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.