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Cyclists do not want too much weight while pumping up steep hills, but need a tough frame that can handle a bumpy ride. Scandium makes the super-light aluminium frame tubes strong enough to tackle the extreme stresses bikes must withstand in grueling races like Tour de France and Giro d'Italia.

The race begins at Hydro Aluminium’s Research and Development Center in Bonn, Germany, which started testing scandium in the 7000 series of aluminium alloys in 1998.

Scandium acts as a particle refiner, and helps to make aluminium alloys 30 to 50 percent stiffer. In the ready assembled bicycle, the weight reduction is 3 percent compared with a standard 7000 alloy. The frame itself weighs just under one kilo.

Hydro Aluminium delivers this special alloy in ingot form to the German extruded tube manufacturer, Aluminiumwerk Unna, also known as Alunna.

The tubing from Alunna is used by the most prestigious bicycle manufacturers. From Unna, the tubes go to Dedacciai of Italy, which assembles the tubes into frames that are used by bike makers such as Bianchi and Pinarello.

Next stop: The finish line.

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