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Tour tech 2010: Fabian Cancellara races special yellow jersey bike

Tour race leader gets special edition everything

Four days into the Tour de France and Team Saxo Bank’s Fabian Cancellara has ridden three different bikes to help him secure the race lead, including a special yellow version of his Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 to celebrate his yellow jersey status.

Spartacus rode to victory in Saturday’s prologue aboard a Specialized Shiv time trial bike. He used a Specialized Project Black Roubaix across the cobbles on stage thee from Wanze to Arenberg Porte du Hainault – a bike designed for extra comfort and control. It was clearly a good call because the Swiss rider finished in the first group of six and gained enough time over his rivals to regain the yellow jersey that he lost in the chaos of stage two.

Cancellara will clock up the vast majority of his miles in this year’s Tour, though, on his Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3. Team Saxo Bank had the yellow version ready and waiting when spies took a look around their pit area in Rotterdam last week. It was always a pretty safe bet that their man would take the lead in the general classification. We’re not sure how many yellow frames they made, but there were at least two different ones at the Eurobike trade show in Germany last year.

This is Specialized’s top-level road frame, made using their FACT IS method of construction. FACT is the name Specialized give to their proprietary carbon design and manufacturing process – it stands for Functional Advanced Composite Technology. IS stands for Integrated Structure, and it’s the way that they produce some of their high-end carbon frames, including the S-Works Tarmac SL3.

Specialized build the frame in four different monocoque units – the top tube, head tube and down tube; the seat tube; the seat stays; and the bottom bracket and chainstays. The carbon fibres in each of these sections run continuously, helping the engineers dial in the stiffness and strength they’re after while keeping the weight low. So, for example, carbon fibres that start out at the bottom of the down tube run all the way up and around the head tube and then along the top tube.

The frame comes in a compact design with a 1.5in lower headset bearing to add extra steering precision up front, and an oversized bottom bracket shell with internally raised ribs. There’s more internal ribbing near the junction between the head tube and the down tube for greater stiffness there, while elliptical seat stays are designed to add rigidity to the rear triangle without making the ride too harsh.

Like the rest of Team Saxo Bank, Cancellara uses a SRAM Red groupset, but unlike the others he gets a special limited edition version courtesy of wearing the maillot jaune. We reported on the SRAM's limited Tour edition of SRAM Red last week.  Essentially, this differs from standard Red in that any bare aluminium sections are anodized black, and all the graphics are big and yellow. The other past Tour winners in the race get this too – Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador . It’ll be available to buy for a limited time period from the autumn.

Cancellara’s wheels come from Zipp, the 404s he used on stages one and two having special yellow graphics added – Team Saxo Bank really aren’t missing an opportunity here, are they? The bar and seatpost are from FSA and the saddle is a Prologo.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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handlebarcam | 13 years ago

Today's stage is flat and easy. As a joke, he should have turned up at the start line riding a plexiglass bike, with every tube filled with cogs and gears spinning merrily.

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