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Tour Tech 2011: Thomas Voeckler's yellow Colnago C59 Italia

Take a close look at the race leader's bike

Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler has been leading the Tour de France since Sunday, riding a Colnago C59 Italia with a yellow paintjob to match his jersey.

We tested the frameset a few months ago, reviewer Stuart Kerton summing it up like this: “A superb example of Italian frame-building expertise. Yes, it’s expensive… but it’s worth it.”

The C59 is Colnago’s top-of-the-range race bike, 100% carbon fibre and made in Italy. It’s unusual among high-end bikes in that it’s a lugged construction rather than being made in a mould. This allows Colnago to chop the tubes – 3PRS tubes that are hand-wound from pre-impregnated carbon fiber cloth – to different lengths, which is a relatively straightforward process, and offer the frame in 22 different sizes/geometries. That’s way more than most other manufactures so you should be able to get a good fit. If you really can’t, you could go for a custom build instead.

The Omega carbon process that Colnago use for the C59 was developed with Ferrari Engineering and it’s all about those lugs. These are made up of 12 layers of carbon cloth which are then cured at high heat and pressure to form a super-strong joint.

The top tube and down tube both have a cloverleaf-shaped profile to match Colnago’s distinctive emblem. Colnago have an enviable brand heritage and they don’t miss an opportunity to reinforce that. Both of those tubes feature I-beam ribs, which is essentially an internal wall that’s designed to increase strength and dampen road shock. The chainstays and the seatstays are both square-section which is intended to increase rigidity.

Europcar are one of the few WorldTour teams to use Campagnolo groupsets. That’s top-level SuperRecord kit on Voeckler’s bike which, like all the higher end Campag groups, is 11-speed. Campag are trialling an electronic version at the moment but only on the bikes of the Movistar team.

The wheels are from Campagnolo too – you can hardly miss the logos. The Bora Ultra Twos are full carbon and those rims are 50mm tall to improve aerodynamics without affecting the weight or handling too much; the 50mm rim is increasingly popular in the pro peloton. The rear wheel is built using Campag’s G3 spoke pattern; the spokes are positioned in groups of three, two to the driveside, one to the non-driveside.

Why do they do that? The idea is that the driveside has to handle more stress so they bump up the number of spokes to share out the tension more evenly. Campag reckon it allows them to build a wheel that’s more resistant to flex, improving the transfer of energy.

The cockpit comes from FSA who have a huge presence in the peloton, comfortably outnumbering anybody else on the pro’s bikes. Rather than using a separate bar and stem, Voeckler has opted for an all-in-one setup here. That’s a Plasma Integrated cockpit which is a continuous carbon/Kevlar monocoque construction with a 3K carbon outer weave. We have one in for review at the moment (120mm stem, 440mm width) and it weighs 432g.

The tops are wing-section; they’re slightly flattened and ergonomically shaped for a really comfy hand position. Those yellow graphics are custom; the highlights are usually red.

That’s a Prologo Scratch Pro TR Nack saddle sitting on top of Colnago’s carbon seatpost. It comes with carbon-fibre rails and a carbon-injected base and weighs in at around 165g.

The Colnago C59 Italia comes in a frame, fork and headset package and it’s available in both Shimano Di2 and conventional cable variants. It’ll cost you £3,499.95. Go to UK distributors Windwave for all the details.



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. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. 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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