The unstinting evolution of bicycle design and the position occupied by ProTeams at the head of the queue for the latest developments makes the team liaison a busy man.
Andreas Walzer and Erik Zabel are Canyon Bikes’ emissaries to Katusha and Movistar, respectively. The German duo, one a former Olympic gold medallist, the other a six-time winner of the Tour de France green jersey competition, make a well-informed pairing, able to understand the needs of the riders as well as the technical nuance of the product.
Canyon unveiled the fourth iteration of its Ultimate CF SLX shortly before the Tour de France, though we glimpsed a prototype model among the racks of Katusha bikes at Paris-Roubaix, where the new bike was tested by Vladimir Isaychev.
Nairo Quintana first competed on the new bike at the four-stage Route du Sud in June. His satisfaction might be taken from his selection of the same machine for the Tour de France.
The Colombian, by the separate accounts of Roman Arnold and Jim McFarlane, founders of Canyon Bikes and Endura clothing respectively, both suppliers to Movistar, is something of a perfectionist, and not the type of rider prepared to compete on a machine he hasn’t fully tested. If Quintana raced the bike in June, it’s safe to imagine that he had trained on it weeks or even months before.
The latest iteration has a 780g frame and 298g fork, the latter with a slender profile in keeping with the chassis. The Ultimate CF SLX might be described, in the broadest terms, as Canyon’s “climbing” bike, and so Quintana’s affinity is easily understood.
Not that every Canyon-equipped climbing specialist has adopted the new bike. Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez has continued to race the Aeroad CF SLX, whose more sculpted profiles offer greater aerodynamic efficiency, if ceding 200g in frame weight to its more conventionally shaped sister.
It’s likely too that Rodriguez has a special affinity with the Aeroad CF SLX. He was the first Canyon rider to receive one, when it was launched last year, after a 1600km drive by Walzer from Koblenz to Barcelona to deliver the machine. After just a short ride, “Purito” declared himself satisfied, Walzer reports.
Quintana has notched two second-placed finishes on his new bike, at the Route du Sud and the Tour de France. Rodriguez added two Tour stage wins aboard his Aeroad CF SLX, but never threatened the GC. They may line up again together at the Vuelta a España.
The participation of one or both of the leaders of Canyon’s ProTeams is unlikely to affect its team liaisons. Walzer and Zabel are familiar faces at the fixtures of the WorldTour calendar and a visit at some point during the three weeks of the Vuelta seems certain. Their presence may be of value to riders from both squads who did not contest the Tour, and for whom the Vuelta might represent a first competitive outing on the new machine.
Canyon Bikes will exhibit alongside other hand-picked guests at the Rouleur Classic, an intimately curated show to be held at Vinopolis, London Bridge, for three days from November 19, 2015. For more information, visit rouleurclassic.cc.