On the third day of Liquigas-Cannnondale’s training camp in December the team ride was divided into two portions, an hour to shake down the team’s time trial bikes, and another 2-3 hours of some real training on the road bikes.
While the majority of riders were on the tried and true Slice, Liquigas-Cannondale mechanics had enough of the new Slice RS bikes on hand for the team’s marquee names. Seeing 18 Pro Tour riders in full cry on time trial equipment is truly a sight to behold and Basso, Nibali, Sagan, Viviani and Oss were all on the new bikes. The early feedback is encouraging. Daniel Oss on his Slice RS
After the ride on the Slice RS Nibali told peloton, ‘It’s very good. Much more aerodynamic. I have only two rides on the bike so I need more time to get a feel for it, but it seems very good.’
The bike is much more than a simple progression from the Slice, it is, as Cannondale’s Murray Washburn says, ‘A clean sheet of paper bike.’ The front end really sets the tone, both for the bike technically and the airflow itself. The word here is ‘narrow’. Cannondale went with a bayonet style front end to reduce the head tube width beyond what was possible with a steer tube. Numerous other aero features abound, the skinny and admittedly strange looking seat post, integrated brakes, clean and smooth internal cable routing, the bike even has a channel built into the seat tube’s ‘Speed Shadow’ to prevent high pressure build up from the spinning back wheel.
Two things are a bit surprising about the bike. It is designed to be most aero in shallow wind angles, meaning you need to ride fast to get the most out of it. Something the Liquigas-Cannondale boys should be able to handle. The other feature that surprised was the use of a standard base bar. Rather than go to a proprietary integrated bar like much of the tri bike world, Cannondale-Liquigas is able to continue using FSA TT bars, and retain a lot of adjustability.Basso and Sagan on the Slice RS in Sardinia
While all new, an important feature from the old Slice has been retained. The SAVE features that provided a smooth ride have been re-imagined in an aero design that is said to provide better lateral stiffness yet the same vertical flex.
All of these things will be extremely important for the coming season. The Giro finishes with a time trial in Milan and there are almost 100 kilometers of time trialing at the Tour de France. The Slice RS will see a lot of high profile action. If Liquigas-Cannondale has their dream season it could find itself in the pressure cooker situation of defending pink and yellow jerseys for two climbers not typically known as good time trialists, Basso and Nibali.