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Last year, after Niels Albert’s dominant win in the Koksijde sand dunes at the 2012 Cyclocross World Championships, we profiled Albert’s winning Colnago Cross Prestige carbon cyclocross bike.

Nearly one year later, we got a close in-person look at his new rainbow-striped Colnago Cross Prestige at the 2013 Cincinnati Kings International Cyclocross Race last weekend before he jumped on it to take the win, and found that many of the same components remain the same from his World title race. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, why change what works?  (Or why change components if your sponsors remain the same?)

Niels Albert's Colnago Cross Prestige in front of BKCP teammate Wietse Bosmans' own Prestige bike. © Cyclocross Magazine

Niels Albert’s Colnago Cross Prestige in front of BKCP teammate Wietse Bosmans’ own Prestige bike. © Cyclocross Magazine

Whereas countless American pros swapped to new disc brake-equipped frames and new 2011 SRAM Red components this year, besides a new paint scheme, Albert’s cyclocross bike is remarkably similar to his bike from last year. In fact, in our review of his bike, our Cincinnati-frozen eyes spotted  just two changes from Albert’s 2012 World Championship Colnago Cross Prestige cyclocross bike that we profiled in detail. These two changes are:

    1. A PRO Vibe 7s aluminum stem instead of the PRO Vibe carbon stem
    2. TRP Brakes’ carbon Revo-X low-profile cantilever cyclocross brakes instead of the TRP CR950 cantilever brakes

First, about the frame: Colnago’s top-shelf rim brake carbon cyclocross bike as ridden by Niels Albert and Sven Nys hasn’t changed in the last year, and still features the trademark shoulder-friendly top tube and seat tube brace. Colnago has said this feature was developed in conjunction with Sven Nys, yet we’ve never seen Nys shoulder his bike that far back. Still, it’s a unique, eye-catching feature that ends up being the perfect place to show rider names.

Niels Albert doesn't put his shoulder here, but it makes for a good spot for his name. © Cyclocross Magazine

Niels Albert doesn’t put his shoulder here, but it makes for a good spot for his name. © Cyclocross Magazine

Colnago constructs the carbon Cross Prestige frame in Italy with a monocoque-molded front triangle mated to a rear triangle constructed from custom-wound carbon tubes and carbon lugs. Besides the unique shouldering brace, perhaps the most unique features of the Colnago Cross Prestige are the relatively steep seat angles, with a 54cm frame offering a 74.61° seat angle. Offsetting the steep seat angles are relatively short top tubes, allowing riders to get into “typical” positions with a setback post. Interestingly, Colnago has shifted its focus to disc brakes even though its star riders still are using cantilevers, and the Italian company does not even offer a rim-brake model of the Cross Prestige anymore to the public — the new disc brake model is the only one listed on the Colnago website (although eagle eyes will note the canti studs remaining on the geometry drawing).

Niels Albert opts for the PRO Vibe 7s aluminum stem but the Vibe carbon bar on his Colnago Cross Prestige. © Cyclocross Magazine

Niels Albert opts for the PRO Vibe 7s aluminum stem but the Vibe carbon bar on his Colnago Cross Prestige. © Cyclocross Magazine

As for the build, just as with Jonathan Page’s mysterious 2013 USA Cyclocross National Championship winning bike, Shimano components dominate Albert’s Colnago Cross Prestige. Dura-Ace  C35 carbon tubular wheels keep the bike rolling, while Shimano Dura-Ace 7970 Di2 10-speed components handle the shifting. Albert remains on a mostly carbon PRO Vibe cockpit, but as noted above, swapped the carbon Vibe stem for an aluminum Vibe 7s stem (while Jonathan Page opts for aluminum Vibe 7s handlebars and seatposts, but the lower-end PLT aluminum stem).

Albert still chooses 38/46 chainrings, custom-made to match his Dura-Ace 7950 10-speed compact crankset (note the “fairings” in the photos for a smoother transition to the crankarm spider).  He also continues to use the discontinued M970 XTR SPD pedals, eschewing the greater surface area of the newer M980 XTR pedals to reduce mud interference between the shoe and pedal body.

Of course, Niels Albert can’t turn down a new brake with his name on it, and chooses the new 122-gram carbon TRP RevoX cantilever brake over Shimano options.  The low-profile TRP carbon RevoX replaces the TRP CR950 carbon cantilever we saw on Albert’s bike last year, and is essentially a low-profile version of the wide-profile EuroX cantilever brakes (see our profile of the TRP RevoX cyclocross brake from Interbike 2012, and stay tuned for a full review in our print magazine). The RevoX was designed specifically to address the needs of World Cup racers and mechanics, as they requested an external spring over the internal spring of the CR950/CR959 for easier cleaning during muddy races.

Niels Albert's uses the TRP Revo-X carbon low-profile cantilever brakes to stop his Colnago Cross Prestige. © Cyclocross Magazine

Niels Albert’s uses the TRP Revo-X carbon low-profile cantilever brakes to stop his Colnago Cross Prestige. © Cyclocross Magazine

All models of Dugast tubular tires grace Albert’s many sets of wheels, although Albert told Cyclocross Magazine he lamented the expense and limitations of bringing equipment to the States for the event, and didn’t have all the equipment he was used to at the 2013 Cincinatti Kings Cyclocross race. He raced in the slippery conditions in Cincinatti on Dugast Typhoon tubulars, and found sufficient traction even without mud tires to take his first American victory.

Might we see Albert and his Colnago win again in Louisville? A victory would represent the third World Championship for the 27-year-old Belgian. Stay tuned to our 2013 Cyclocross World Championship page and watch our Live Streaming Video of the 2013 Cyclocross World Championships to find out if King Albert will reign again.

2012 World Champion Niels Albert’s Colnago Cross Prestige Cyclocross Bike Photo Gallery:

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Niels Albert’s 2013 World Championship Colnago Cross Prestige Cyclocross Bike Specs:

Frame: Colnago Cross Prestige, cantilever model
Fork: Colnago Cross Prestige
Headset: Colnago
Handlebars: PRO Vibe, UD Carbon
Stem: PRO Vibe 7s, alloy
Brakes: TRP RevoX carbon cantilever brakes, low-profile, with SwissStop Yellow King pads
Wheelset: Shimano Dura-Ace C35 35mm carbon tubular wheelset, 1339g
Tires: Dugast Typhoon tubulars
Shifters: Shimano Dura-Ace 7970 10-speed Di2 STI Levers
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace 7970 10-speed Di2
Front Derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace 7970 10-speed Di2
Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace 7950 10-speed, 46/38t
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 10-speed, 12-25
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace 7901 10-speed
Pedals: Shimano XTR M970 SPD pedals 
Seatpost: PRO Vibe UD carbon
Saddle: PRO Turnix, titanium rails