Joel Calderon s stage-winning Tour de Filipinas bike |

Not only did Filipino cyclist Joel Calderon (Mail and More Cycling Team) demoralize an entire field of seasoned international pro cyclists in yesterday s head-splittingly hard mountains stage, he did it on a bike that could have been picked up on eBay for less than $1,500.

Calderon is a revered hill-climbing talent in his home country and he appears unfazed by not having the latest equipment. He reportedly won the 2009 Padyak Pinoy Tour of Champions (a longer precursor to the current four-stage Le Tour de Filipinas) on a Trek bike borrowed from his nephew.

The 2007 Giant TCR Alliance T-Mobile Edition pictured above is of an off-the-shelf version of Calderon s bike (below), which sold for around AUD1,995 (USD1,900) in 2007. The once-popular mixed-material (aluminium and carbon fibre) fabrication method used to make this frame is now rare. Composites technology has progressed and arguably become more opaque in marketing literature in low to mid-range bicycles in the years since, to the point where a full composite frame can be made for a similar, or better, price.

Almost none of the trickle-down features expected by consumers of sub-$3,000 bikes are evident on Calderon s battered aluminium Giant. Shifter cable routing is external, resulting in the once-common coat hanger look in front-on images; the cranks are secured to a threaded bottom bracket by way of a self-extracting bolt; the headset is 1/18? top and bottom, with bearings dropped into press-fit cups mounted in the frame; absolutely no sign of built-in vertical compliance elements anywhere in the frame module.

During the stage, which featured three climbs in excess of 1,400 meters elevation, Calderon put 4m21s into CCN Cycling s Timo Scholz (Germany). Scholz, who began the day in yellow, was riding the latest Cervelo R5, fitted with Campagnolo Record and 1,200g 3T Mercurio 40 LTD carbon wheels. At time of writing, Cycling iQ had not received confirmation from CCN Cycling that team bikes are supplied free. In any case, it certainly doesn t appear that Calderon has an annual contract that stipulates a new bike every year. With local climbing talent clearly abundant (see yesterday s results), it s hard to imagine bicycle brands do not have riders like Calderon on their sponsorship radars. The question is, who will move first?

Frameset: 2007 Giant TCR Alliance T-Mobile Edition1
Fork: re-stickered Argon 18 carbon monocoque fork2 Groupset: Shimano 105 5500, with external shifter cables

Wheels: Shimano Ultegra RS80 (CFRP/aluminum)3

Tyres: Continental Grand Prix 4-Season with Vectran4

Notes: 1) At first glance, the proximity of the water bottles, short head tube and tight front triangle suggest this frame is a size XS or S. 2) Possibly a pre-cursor to the EL99, but could also be OE from Kinesis or a similar manufacturer 3) Weight is 1,600 grams with skewers 4) Continental s most puncture-resistant race tyre; certainly not the lightest tyre in Conti s range, incurring a 40 gram weight penalty over the lighter Attack/Force combination

*the lo-res image meant zooming in on smaller details was not possible, so mistakes in spec identification may be evident to sharper-eyed readers. Corrections encouraged and appreciated please use the comments section below.