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I'd also suggest you consider a compact crankset instead of a triple. There are reasons more and more compacts are being offered, while fewer manufacturers are making triples each year.

I don't know much about Campy, but can tell you that Sram offers a lot of different cassette combinations (more than Shimano) intended for compact cranksets. Sram started the whole compact crank revolution. Shimano and Campy have had to follow suit.

Try a 26T or 27T large cog, with a compact crank for help climbing. This is probably low enough gearing, but is still compatible with most short rear derailleurs. (Check manufacturer's websites for derailleur limitation with largest cogs.)

If you go with a compact crankset, you'll likely want an 11T smallest cog... What goes up must come down and the 11T will help keep you from spinning out on faster decents.

With a compact crankset, you can end up with just as wide an overall range as with a triple... The difference is that the individual gear-to-gear jumps are bigger than with a standard double or triple.

Carbon assmbly paste is essentially a grease with "grit" in it (I'm guessing metal particles). Use it any time you are clamping carbon parts, so that you can use minimum torque to keep from crushing the carbon parts. It's most useful on steerers, carbon handlebars and seat posts. A $5 tube of the stuff will probably last a lifetime!

You don't want to use carbon assembly paste in places where lubricating grease is needed. For example, the threads of a bottom bracket or around the headset bearings, where grease is used to keep aluminum threads from binding in the first case, and for some additional protection against water entering the bearings in the second case.

Depending upon your budget, a new, full group might be the way to go. But you can often buy takeoffs for some savings on certain auction sites. You might mix and match parts. I just put together a bike with mostly Sram Rival, but a Red crankset in the size I wanted. All brand new 2010 parts, that ended up costing me a few hundred $ less than any group I might buy off the shelf. On the other hand, when buying a group you can specify a lot of the items to get exactly the size you want.... and you might wait a while for an auction to pop up with a particular combination you're seeking.

Sometimes it's better to buy some parts individually. For example, some people downgrade the Sram front derailleur from Red to either Force or Rival. The Red FD uses a titanium cage to save a few grams, but is flexier and not quite as "positive" shifting. On the other hand, the Red crank is both stiffer and lighter than the Force, and a whole lot lighter than the Rival. Aside from the cranksets, there's little weight penalty comparing most of the Sram components with each other. The carbon levers, brake calipers and derailleurs are only a wee bit heavier in the downgrade lines. Shifting with Red is the nicest, but both Force and Rival are darned good, too.

From my limited experience, Sram is a little fussier to set up. Just seems to me that Shimano derailleurs are a little more tolerant of misalignment. Sram shifting is "crisper", Shimano's more smooth. Not really saying one is better than the other... They're just different.

Using a single lever for both up and down shifting - the way Sram does - takes a little getting used to. It's no big deal after a while, though, and it's why their shifters are the lightest available.

Campy, Shimano and Sram all grip a little differently when riding on the hoods. They just have different approaches to ergonomics. Some prefer one or the other. I ride both Shimano (Ultegra 6600) and Sram (both Force and Rival) and don't really prefer one over the other. You might, though, so check them out in a shop, if at all possible. After all, you'll likely be gripping those hoods for long periods of time while climbing those hills.

I agree with the idea of a fitting. It's the best way to find a good starting point (and maybe even prevent injury). Have to admit I just swap out stems a couple times to see what feels best. And I prefer a 172.5 crank arm on my bike, even though my 31 inch inseam and 53 to 54cm bike size "dictate" that I should be using a 170mm crank arm. But I'm not a terribly serious cyclist and don't spend hours and hours in the saddle.

Most modern stems are designed to work with carbon bars. Some older ones tended to have too sharp machined edges and needed some care or work, or they might damage carbon parts. I would just recommend looking for a stem that has a four-bolt face plate. Some still use only two bolts, to try to save a few grams.... But I've found their narrower gripping area seems to make them more inclined to "creaking" and flexing with a carbon bar.

Seatpost and clamp can be almost anything that appeals to you. If the clamp will be riding directly on the carbon tubing, there is a type that might be a little safer, with an offset slot at an angle. The one I use on my Look is a smaller size than you need, but happens to be a Campy clamp of this type. (

Agreed.... go for strong wheels... you're a Clydesdale! There are some stronger designs of Aero wheels available, but unless you are going to be competing in time trials or traithlons, you might be better off just looking for a good, reliable set of training wheels. Later you might add a set of "race day wheels", if you really need them. Spend some time looking through the reviews here and elsewhere.

Have fun building your bike!
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