French team FDJ takes its name from its title sponsor, the French National Lottery. If you’ve missed out on any of our earlier pro-bike features, this is the 3rd professional team sponsored by a European lottery; the others being Dutch LottoNL Jumbo and Belgian Lotto Soudal. The FDJ team is managed by legendary Marc Madiot, a former multi-time Paris-Roubaix winner and grand Tour stage winner, among a handful of national road and cross championships.
The team’s roster is predominantly French, as is their team bike supplier, Lapierre. For 2016, the Lapierre Xelius was completely redesigned and with a claimed weight of 850 grams, is the lightest frame in the company’s range. This example of the Xelius SL belongs to Benoît Vaugrenard, a 13 year pro cyclist who has spent his entire career with FDJ, encompassing eight professional victories for the frenchman. Read on for a closer look at Benoît Vaugrenard’s Lapierre Xelius SL…
The seat stay, seat tube and top tube junction are reminiscent of GT’s triple triangle design. However, the seat tube of the Xelius SL completely bypasses the seat stays , connecting directly to the top tube allowing for effectively longer tubing on the otherwise semi-compact frame. Thus, the combined seat tube and seatpost support the weight of the rider, giving free reign to a bit of flex for a measure of comfort, without affecting frame (especially rear-end) stiffness.
The Lapierre Xelius SL utilizes a narrow traditional 27.2mm diameter post, which helps with additional comfort due to post flex. At 6’2″/188cm tall, Benoît Vaugrenard, gets a lot of exposed seatpost.
Fizik’s Aliante saddle in custom FDJ colors provide for Benoît’s seating arrangements, sticking with more conservative K:ium metal alloy rails. It sits atop a one-bolt, offset carbon PRO Tharsis XC mountain bike seatpost. Likely because of his height the FDJ mechanics had to reach off-road for the 400mm long post.
Shimano supply FDJ with the team’s Dura-Ace Di2 electronic 11-speed groupsets. The Di2 front derailleur on Benoît’s bike gets a security supplement by a made-in-the-USA K-Edge chain catcher.
Power measuring for the team is supplied by SRM, with the new PC8 head unit recording data and providing live feedback to the rider.
Benoît favors a single Shimano Di2 climbing shifter, perfect for long periods of seated climbing or on-the-bar-tops riding.
FDJ’s mechanics again stick with the external Di2 junction A box, and use heat shrink tubing to guide the wiring along the rear brake housing until it drops down and enters the side of the downtube. Simplicity and accessibility keep mechanics happy when they are on the road.
Keeping with the theme of simplicity and accessibility, the Xelius SL mounts Shimano’s powerful Dura-Ace dual pivot brakes externally, on a standard seat stay bridge, where they have also fitted a bent metal number plate bracket.
Keeping it in the family is a Shimano Dura-Ace C35 tubular wheelset. While the team has access to the deeper C50 wheelset, most of the team’s bikes at the 2016 TDU are fitted with the lower profile C35 wheels.
Continental outfits yet-another professional cycling team with tires, this time with the pro-only Pro LTD edition of their Competition tubular tire in a 25mm width.
Elite’s Cannibal bottle cage keep the team water bottles securely in place throughout the day.
Below, Benoît sizes up the Lapierre Xelius SL before joining his teammates on a pre-Tour Down Under training ride.
Stage Two of the 2016 Tour Down Under starts Wednesday, January 20 in the Adelaide suburb of Unley, and heads into the Adelaide hills town of Stirling. FDJ are fairly easy to spot on television or by the roadside in their French tri-color inspired team kit. Don’t be shy as they race on by!
Photos and article by Gravel Cyclist.
Jayson O’Mahoney is the Gravel Cyclist: A website about the Gravel Cycling Experience.