Seemingly offering as much excitement, incident, suffering, triumph and regret in just one day as the Tour manages to cough up in three whole weeks, there’s a reason the cobbled classics, last weekend’s Tour Of Flanders and this weekend’s Paris-Roubaix, are two of cycling’s ‘Monuments’. The casually overused title ‘epic’ doesn’t even come close.
A captive, slash mesmerised audience over here at Mpora Gear towers, while watching the coverage of Boonen’s historic victory at the new look Ronde, and of course munching those caramel Belgian Stroopwafel biscuit things, we started subconsciously noting the products the pros were using and thinking about the ones we’d turn to if we were tackling the Paterberg instead of stuffing our face sprawled out in a leather recliner.
So with Sunday’s L’enfer Du Nord beckoning with Tom Boonen primed to equal fellow Belgian Roger De Vlaeminck’s tally for wins in the iconic race and us poised to whip up some delicious crepes in time for the leaders entering the Arenberg, here’s our go-to list of gear we’d hopefully be rolling into the Velodrome with after a long day on the stones.
First things first, wheels, now we know these are almost the default recommendation from every hack and their dog in cycling’s press pack, but Mavic’s Open Pro rims are so accomplished it’s hard to look anywhere else. Battering your way across French farm tracks demands a rock solid rim, and that’s why so many pros, regardless of who their team’s wheel sponsor actually is, roll on these, but I digress. We’d be on the Open Pro rims, possibly laced to Ultegra 6700 hubs, or probably go with pre-built option such as this, Open Pros paired with Hope’s Pro 3 hubs. Along with being a super dependable, smooth rolling set of hubs, Hope’s freehub is one of the loudest out there, which for us is just an added bonus.
Next up, tyres. And even though most of us may not be gliding across the hallowed stones anytime soon, the benefits of riding a hardy, puncture protected, 24 or 25C tyre shouldn’t be underestimated and especially with the disastrous state of many of the roads we ride on day in day out. There are a good few options out there, but we’d go for either Vittoria’s Open Corsa Evo CX Clincher, which is essentially their iconic classics tubular, but now in clincher form, Continental’s unequivocally rugged 25c size Grand Prix 4 Season or possibly their all-year round 24c Grand Prix.
Moving on, along with admiring the unseasonal creosote-hue of the bulk of the peloton’s legs and arms, we couldn’t help but notice two pieces of hardware which featured on the many of the team’s bikes at the Ronde we’d like to put on our shopping list. The more ubiquitous of the pair was the chain catcher, for obvious reasons. The latest incarnation of SRAM’s Red group already features a chain catcher on the front mech as standard, but for everyone else not running with Red, there are a couple of options available, with K-Edge’s chain catcher our treat yourself option and Token’s the more realistic purchase. Pancakes cost a fortune to make don’t you know.
Anyway, item number two which we kept on spotting was Elite’s alloy Ciussi bottle cage, seriously it’d be easier listing the teams which didn’t use this on their bikes for the cobbled classics. Able to hold onto your bottle under the very worst of riding conditions and virtually indestructible, this is one of our all-time favourite products and for good reason.
Having tiptoed around just a few potential hardware choices, our next wish-list items are in part inspired by everyone’s new favourite rider, yes Mr. Redemption, the resurgent Pippo Pozzato. Just pipped at the post by Boonen in the sprint at Flanders, the hitherto often ridiculed Italian playboy proved he’s back to his best and for us at least his equipment and clothing choices were bellissimo! Rocking the dayglow yellow variation at the start line to match the rest of his Farnese-Vini Selle Italia kit, Defeet’s Dura gloves are the perfect option for chilly Spring starts and they’re refreshingly inexpensive too. All three podium places at the Tour Of Flanders were also taken by riders wearing Defeet products by the way.
Yes we know it’s not strictly Pippo issue as it’s not made by Lazer, but hey, it’s the right colour and well, it’s our list and we love Giro’s Aeon helmet. Offering reassuringly robust protection for your noggin, combined with a snug fit and a light overall weight, we never thought we’d find anything to stop us wearing the American manufacturer’s Prolight lid, but the Aeon has now officially displaced it.
And finally to skincare! Yes, of all our items this week we think this one is the most important. Offering a toasty warm, invisible barrier to the early morning chill, embrocation is the magical salve which enables us to leave the house wearing bib shorts, minus the leg warmers, to expose our freshly shaved legs to the world. The single most important thing to do after dressing and wearing a helmet, is slapping on embrocation in the Spring and we find Elite’s gel offers sufficient fire for our pale pins. The heat also offers a bronzing glow to our skin too, which is a happy side-effect we’re sure you’ll agree.
Right, we’re off to hunt down some more crepe recipes and ponder how we’re going to square away buying those Mavic wheels with Mrs. Mpora Gear, so until next time enjoy Paris-Roubaix whoever you’re rooting for and here’s to a good long Easter weekend of riding. Forza Pippo!