The race is on as I write this and I can't wait for the live pictures to kick in. I've spent the morning looking at pictures of the riders kit and I think the best prepared (equipment wise) Teams are Cervelo, SKY and SAXO Bank. All of these Teams have Special bikes, but the prototype SL3 Roubaix along with the new Pinarello KOBH have caught my eye.
From what I can see of the Specialized bike only Fabian Cancellara and Stuart O'Grady have one. The rest of the Team will be on a SL2 Roubaix, but these are not stock geometry, but are much closer to a Tarmac, particularly in the head tube length. The Pro bikes look smart, sensible and well balanced. The consumer is sold the dream 'ride the bike Fabian rides', but you can't as it isn't available. The good news is if that the UCI clamps down on bikes being rode in the peloton being available for sale to the general public may force Specialized (and other manufacturers) to actually make it available.
I've always wanted a 'Roubaix/Vlaanderen Style' bike, as I love the cobbles and the extra comfort that could be achieved by good bike design and a bit more tyre room would be welcome. What has put me off is that the commercial version is stacked up at the front like a chopper. I know for many this is the Holy Grail in comfort for some, for me it is a bridge too far (and for the record I'm not super flexible).
As you can see from Fabian's position on the bike it replicates his Tarmac shape, with maybe only a slightly longer headtube. Comfort will come from the frames added length, Zertz and the different lay-up of the carbon.
You can see Hoj aboard the Roubaix SL2 and Cancellara on the proto SL3. Interesting to note that Fabian is happy to run the Zipp 303 wheel whereas Frank is using an Ambriso/DT setup. Both riders are using the much favoured FMB tyres. These look like to be the same ones they used last year in Roubaix.
Although Breschel has been touted by some areas of the Cycling Press as being a contendor, I'd only rate him on a three star chance. His build looks better suited to Flanders than the pounding of Roubaix. But I could be wrong. Maybe Specialized think so as it's only the previous winners of Roubaix on the Team that have recieved the new bike.
So a few final tweeks and the riders where off. Good luck to all riders today.