The story of the first Grand Tour victory for ROTOR with Carlos Sastre

autorRotor Bike Components
fecha23rd October 2018

The 2008 Tour is the Carlos Sastre Tour, but it is also the “ROTOR Tour”. Ten years ago, when ROTOR was battling against the dominance of the big brands, the CSC cyclist from Avila achieved the biggest success of his career whilst using Q RINGS®. This is a story of how the faith, the desire to succeed and the effort of the cyclist and those who believed in ROTOR, achieved more than climbing to the top of the podium in the Champs-Elysees.

The story of ROTOR is one of believing in what you do. It cannot be understood any other way. Part of that story is linked directly to the tremendous triumph of Carlos Sastre in the 2008 Tour De France. Pablo Carrasco and Ignacio Estellés, the founders of ROTOR knew as an aspiring cycling brand, without a presence in a pro World Tour team, it was like not existing at all. Both Pablo and Ignacio had faith that Q RINGS® were going to be a revolution in the world of cycling at all levels and never gave up on trying to convince professional cyclists to use them. However many teams had exclusivity contracts with big brands like SHIMANO, CAMPAGNOLO and SRAM, so getting a pro cyclist to use different chainrings that were also oval, was a colossal task.

Pablo Carrasco, recently told us how it all started with David Cañada using Q RINGS® in the 2006 Tour until the 18th stage when Campagnolo realized this and forbade their use. At the same time Dutch rider Marianne Vos, one of the cyclists that was involved from the beginning in the development and success of Q RINGS®, was achieving countless triumphs both in road racing and cyclo-cross, always using ROTOR. The support of Vos gave Ignacio and Pablo the motivation to continue knocking on doors of many top riders of the moment, including Valverde, Freire and of course Sastre, who at the end of his 2007 season finally opened the door.

Given the consistent success of Marianne Vos in the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Carlos was ready to try Q RINGS® even though his team, CSC by other components’ manufacturer. Ignacio and Pablo went to Ávila in order to make biomechanical tests with a Computrainer, analysing Sastre’s pedaling for his optimal adjustment of the oval orientation. Little by little Carlos began to appreciate the benefits during the following months as he was building his performance by training and competing with Q RINGS® in the lead up to the 2008 Tour de France. His commitment was that as long as they did not cause him any problems in performance or knee pain, he was going to continue to use them. During the tests, Carlos commented with his masseur that he got tired less, that he had a more fluid cadence and that he noticed that his recoveries were faster. At the same time, his masseur noticed a more relaxed musculature that generated optimism amongst members of the cyclist’s team.

At the beginning of 2008, the relationship between Carlos and ROTOR became closer and both founders believe that the cyclist “felt a special connection with us, the faith that we could make something really big together” and decided to bet strong. Sastre asked his team about his decission of using them during the whole season, confirmed to Cervélo that if the chainrings´sponsor could not offer him anything up to the task, he would use Q RINGS® at the Tour de France.

For the time trials in the Tour, they started to use new configurations with shorter cranks (at the time it was popular to use longer cranks for TT) to gain more aerodynamics, , raising the saddle accordingly, so that Sastre’s position on the bike would be better for wind resistance but as well for increased power, pushing the pedals from a closer position. Also for the racing bike, while Carlos had been using a 53-39 combination with a 130mm BCD, he asked Pablo to please change, designing a compact set 53-38 with 5 OCP positions of the time. Prototype ready to test in Dauphiné, and off to race the Tour.

During the first stages of the Tour, despite being in the top 10, Carlos was not a favourite to win. As the stages continued with the march up the Pyrenees and the testing climbs of Alps, Sastre´s position improved. Following the famous Alpe d’Huez stage win, everything changed for ROTOR and Sastre claimed the prestigious yellow jersey.

Around that time, the business situation of ROTOR was complicated… So much so that Ignacio and Pablo managed to convince the investors to wait until Sastre had won the Tour, and if he did, to invest in ROTOR. A question of faith that had the best possible ending for everyone.

The rest is history. A win at Alpe d’Huez with enough advantage to fight for the overall win against Cadel Evans in the final time trial. Although the Australian was more of a TT specialist than Sastre, Carlos managed to complete an extraordinary time trial, where he lost almost no time at all. In that stage he ran a 53 tooth chainring with a carbon fibre cover that FSA decided to fit with an inscription that said “prototype” so that nobody would see that the Q RINGS® were fitted to FSA cranks. 

“Ignacio and myself were certain that Carlos would win the Tour, so we tried to convince him as well”, Pablo Carrasco said. “Speaking to Sastre during the rest days after the Pyrenees, Carlos told me that finally the faith for the victory had come to him”. Both founders had complete trust before the Tour started that Carlos would win: “we knew it”.

The relationship between Carlos and the brand became stronger in the months following the Tour win. Sastre signed a new deal with Cervélo for the 2009 season and ROTOR became an official co-sponsor of the Cervélo TestTeam for Q RINGS® the new 3D cranks, and more products to be developed.

Named to commemorate Carlos Sastre’s and ROTOR’s first victory at Alpe d’Huez during the 2008 Tour de France, the ALDHU crankset uses Direct Mount chainrings in a modular design that brings more adjustability and customisation than any ROTOR crank before it. ALDHU it is an abbreviation of Alpe d’Huez. The ALDHU model is the lightest crank to date from ROTOR from aluminium 7055.

A ROTOR crank would not be a ROTOR crank without Q RINGS® and those fitted to the ALDHU have more adjustability than ever before thanks to a refined version of the OCP (Optimum Chainring Position) Mount.

A true history of friendship, effort and faith.

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