Simoni Riding New Carbon Fiber Cannondale At Tour
NEW FRAME DESIGN PROMPTS "LEGALIZE MY CANNONDALE" QUEST
(7/12/03)When Saeco's Gilberto Simoni lines up at the start of today's 7th stage of the Tour de France, he'll be pedaling a brand new weapon:An innovative, super-light, prototype Cannondale frame featuring carbon fiber and aluminum tubes.
Although Cannondale officials are being uncharacteristically tight-lipped about Simoni's new frame, they did confirm that it's an advanced prototype that has already passed strength and fatigue testing at the company's ESAL (Experimental Stress Analysis Lab) facility.A quick look at the frame reveals a carbon fiber top tube, down tube and seat tube, with welded aluminum head tube and tube joints to complete the front triangle.The seatstays and chainstays are also aluminum, and the bike is equipped with Cannondale's lightweight Hollowgram crankset and bottom bracket.
"LEGALIZE MY CANNONDALE"
Along with Simoni's new frame, the Saeco team will also be sporting new outfits during today's stage.The jerseys carry a "Legalize My Cannondale" message that refers to UCI Rule # 1.3.019, which states that a bike must have a minimum weight of 6.8 kilograms (14.99 pounds) in order to compete in UCI-sanctioned road races.Bicycles built with Cannondale's existing Optimo frame - or with Simoni's new, even lighter frame - can easily fall below the 6.8 k minimum weight.In fact, Simoni's bike today will have several weights attached to its top tube to ensure compliance with the UCI mandate.
"We know there are a lot of 'scary-light' bikes out there...Bikes that are very light but also very fragile," said Saskia Stock, Cannondale's vice president of marketing in Europe, "so we understand the intent behind the UCI's rule.But when designed correctly, bikes can be both light and durable.It's frustrating to have to abide by a blanket ruling that gives no regard to the research and development or testing that goes into our designs."
Every Cannondale design, including Simoni's new bike, goes through several stages of testing during its development, including FEA testing of "virtual prototypes," rigorous testing of physical prototypes for strength and fatigue resistance, and field-testing by Cannondale engineers.Only then, after satisfying the three prior testing protocols, are Cannondale's pro athletes allowed to ride a new design.
So does Cannondale expect the UCI to give Saeco a special exemption for their lightweight frames?"No," explains Stock, "but we'd like the UCI to consider changing the basic regulation.We'd certainly support a rule that protected riders by requiring frames of any weight to meet sensible strength and durability standards.We'd even be happy to help the UCI develop those tests.But to select an arbitrary minimum weight requirement discourages innovation, and it does little to protect the riders."
© Copyright Saeco