Pro bike: Mathieu van der Poel's Roubaix-winning Canyon Aeroad CFR

The Dutchman secured his second victory in the Queen of the Classics on Sunday, but made few significant changes to his tried and trusted bike setup

As he approached the Roubaix Velodrome on Sunday, safely ensconced in the comfort of a three-minute time gap to the nearest riders, Mathieu van der Poel took a second to stare directly down the lens of the TV camera and pat the side of his bike in acknowledgement. While some of that public recognition may be thanks to the big money 10-year sponsorship deal he signed with Canyon less than a month ago, it’s more heartening to think it was a signal of thanks for making it through Paris-Roubaix incident-free.

A lot is discussed about the tech deployed at Roubaix, and teams spend thousands researching the best setups to go as fast and as safely as possible over the cobble sectors. But no matter how good a setup is, mechanicals at Roubaix largely come down to luck (or lack of it).

As well as the scintillating form that has now delivered two Monuments already this season, Van der Poel and his Canyon Aeroad CFR also seemingly had that luck on their side, the Dutchman appearing to make it through the Hell of the North with no significant mechanical hindrances. In fact, even if he had suffered an unfortunate puncture in the last 40km or so, the gap was so big and his support car so close behind him that he could have made a bike change and still won.

We managed to get hold of the world champion’s all-white Roubaix bike for a close look in both its clean, race-ready state and with the customary dust and mud in the velodrome at the end of the race.

Mathieu van der Poel Roubaix bike

At a glance, there is little to distinguish Van der Poel’s Roubaix bike from the one he uses for every other race. The glistening white frame, adorned with a mass of Canyon logos and one each for the component supplier Shimano and indoor training platform Zwift, only gently nods to his Worlds victory in Glasgow last year with rainbows on the drive-side seatstay and on the frame sticker on the top tube.

Mathieu van der Poel saddle

There are a couple of other subtle tributes to his world champion status elsewhere, including atop his Selle Italia Flite Boost MVDP Carbonio Superflow Saddle and on the inside of the Shimano Dura-Ace C50 wheels near the tubeless valve. It’s fair to say Van der Poel has erred on the side of less-is-more when it comes to rainbows compared to some examples from recent years.

Mathieu van der Poel Canyon Aeroad

There’s one other customisation not Worlds related on the frame, and that’s the white-out MVDP logo on the otherwise decal-clear head tube.

Mathieu van der Poel headtube

Let’s look at Roubaix changes then. Overall, there’s not that many of them. There’s no change of setup to a two piece or round bars; Van der Poel continues to use the CP0018 Aerocockpit which is slammed to maintain a low and aggressive position. That’s fronted with a Forward AM I Canyon 3D-Print Mount, which is clearly capable of keeping his Wahoo in position in a race as jarring as Paris-Roubaix.

Mathieu van der Poel cockpit

The only obvious change to the Dutchman’s cockpit setup is the double-wrapped bar tape. Van der Poel never wears mitts, so an extra bit of cushioning on the cobbles can make all the difference between winning and losing.

He’s seemingly never been a rider to have any extreme inward tilt of his shifters, but the Dura-Ace R9270 hydraulic shifters are built in with some light inward tilt as well as marginally taller hoods for better ergonomics.

Mathieu van der Poel bike

Further down in the full Dura-Ace groupset, Van der Poel doesn’t seem to have bought into the trend of giant chainrings for Roubaix, with many riders using a 56 (or even bigger) outside chainring to try and gain an advantage in the high-speeds that are now common at the Hell of the North.

Mathieu van der Poel crankset

Here, his bike is equipped with a 54/40 chainset, which is pretty standard in most races given the greater range of gears provided by the 12-speed cassette, which is an 11-30. The chainset is equipped with Shimano’s proprietary power meter, and you can see the magnet on the chainstay just inside of the chainrings.

Mathieu van der Poel tyres Roubaix

The biggest difference-maker and most noticeable change about Van der Poel’s Roubaix bike is undoubtedly the tyres. The 29-year-old generally tends to run 28mm Vittoria Corsa Pro tyres during the season, as we saw at the Tour de France last year, but for Roubaix those are switched out for 32mm versions. That extra width, as well as being tubeless, allows the mechanics to run Van der Poel’s pressure much lower, providing comfort and much needed grip over the cobbles sectors which were a mix of dry and wet on Sunday.

Mathieu van der Poel Canyon Aeroad

It doesn’t seem that Van der Poel deployed any special bottle cages for the pavé either, instead trusting in his standard Elite Custom Race Plus cages to do the business and keep his bidons safely secured.

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