We spotted new Marin team addition Nicole Duke’s Cortina T3 CX Pro at Gloucester. It was the featured bike at Marin’s tent out at Outdoor Demo, and was with her through the race at Cross Vegas and then on to Holy Week for Gloucester and Providence weeks in New England. This is the fourth in a long line of team switches, as Duke recently joined Marin after a short stint on Alchemy after leaving Raleigh-Clement and Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld in the past two years. She’ll be the only Elite racer on the team, and she tells us she’s thrilled with the team so far, though early in the year at Sea Otter, she had expressed a desire to make her way back to a larger team with fellow Elite racers on it.
The shift from her custom carbon Alchemy Balius bikes from last season to this year’s Marin Cortina’s was a change, since she’s back to a stock 52cm geometry, but overall, she’s pleased. “I’m really happy with my new Marin T3 CX Pro,” she said. “All the angles are perfect, the frame is light with great bottom bracket stiffness for immediate power transfer. I like that it’s a carbon tube-to-tube construction, which reduces mass and increases strength to weight ratio. Plus, the bike just looks good!” The frame’s internal cable routing system illustrates the new norm in high-end cyclocross models at this point in time, and the tube-to-tube construction technique used for the carbon frames is also the new normal as far as carbon bikes go in the cyclocross world.
Unlike the complete Marin Cortina T3 CX Pro, Duke’s bike comes with a sponsor-correct full SRAM Red 22 kit, with Zipp wheels and stem, and Clement MXP tires. Her ex-team director, Clement Cycling’s Don Kellogg, confided in us over the Providence Cyclo-cross Festival weekend that he worked to make sure she was still on the Clements that she’d grown attached to while on the team.
Zipp and SRAM have, of course, been long time supporters of Duke’s, along with less tech-oriented brands like Spy Optics, which has taken a keen interest in supporting cyclocrossers this season, especially with their new Happy Lenses.
WickWerks is responsible for her front chainrings, and Duke tells us that after Providence, she switched from the 36-46 combination that she had to a more mild 36-44 setup. And as for her SRAM componentry, Duke has shifted (pun intended) to the new SRAM Red 22 with the 11-speed rear cassette, and SRAM’s new hydraulic disc brakes provide stopping power. For the ex-downhiller who tends to excel on sloppy, technical courses, we’re excited to see how the brakes change Duke’s racing tactics as the season gets messier.
As for the team sponsorship—Duke is sponsored primarily by Marin and Spy Optics—”She actually came and approached us, and it was a pretty ideal fit,” said the team manager for Marin. “She’s definitely an interesting story, a middle-aged single mom racing ’cross at the highest level.”
While Duke is racing for Marin, she’s largely unsupported at races, and relies on outside sponsors like the WD-40 Bikes team to help with pre-race bike tuneup as well as in-the-pit duties. “Those guys are great,” she said. “They always make me feel like I’m right at home, and they always know what I need!” Stay tuned for a full review of WD40’s line of bike care products, which are now available in bike shops across the US.
Nicole Duke’s Marin Cortina T3 CX Pro Specs:
- Frame: 52cm T3 UD Carbon with Internal Cable Routing, Chainstay Disc Brake Mount, PowerTaper Seat Tube, PressFit 30 BB and Tapered Headtube
- Front Fork: Marin CX-SL Carbon Disc with Tapered Carbon Steerer
- Crank: SRAM Red 22
- Chainrings: WickWerks 36/46
- Cassette: SRAM Red 22
- Shifters: SRAM Red 22
- Rear derailleur: SRAM Red 22
- Front derailleur: SRAM Red 22
- Brakes: SRAM Red 22 hydraulic disc, 160mm front and rear
- Wheels: Zipp Firecrest 303 tubulars
- Tires: Clement MXP tubulars
- Saddle: Fizik
- Bars and Stem: Zipp Service Course
- Seatpost: Zipp SL Speed