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The ’08 Tour de France – Random Observations

- Any comments we make about the ’08 Tour de France in this ‘What’s New’ entry should be prefaced by the following email exchange that occurred in early June. Based on this, feel free to dismiss everything we say:

-----Original Message-----
From: Gerard Vroomen
Sent: Friday, June 06, 2008 9:37 AM
To: Brendan Quirk
Subject: RE: 2008 Cervélo SLC-SL Limited Edition SRAM Red Complete Bike – Competitive Cyclist

I’ll save this e-mail. :-)

Gerard Vroomen | Co-founder
Website: www.cervelo.com | www.cervelo.tv

-----Original Message-----
From: Brendan Quirk
Sent: Friday, June 06, 2008 9:35 AM
To: Gerard Vroomen
Subject: RE: 2008 Cervélo SLC-SL Limited Edition SRAM Red Complete Bike – Competitive Cyclist

With all due respect to Carlos, CSC doesn’t have a GC contender for the Grand Tours. The best the team can hope for is stage wins. MSR and the Ronde have more value (to some, including me) than stage wins.

****

- I can’t remember why I was on the AP website, but I stumbled across this video done by the AP Editor responsible for their Tour de France coverage and it’s one of the neatest multi-media presentations on the ’08 Tour I’ve seen anywhere. The only problem is this: It keeps stalling with 1:51 to go. I use the latest Firefox browser with the latest edition of Flash, but it still stalls every time. Can you make it work? In any event, the 3 minutes that work are excellent, so check it out.

- Bike racing is very dangerous.

- Was anyone else impressed by Trek’s TV commercials? In my book it was a confident statement that they make super bikes no matter the category. By comparison, the ads by their arch-nemesis Specialized seemed awfully one-dimensional, no? Trek seemed motivated to cultivate cycling as a whole; Specialized seemed like it was keen to be in an arm-wrestling match with Cervélo. Astana got the shaft by the ASO by not getting to race the Tour, but Trek bounced back with the best ads in the Tour. Lemons, lemonade, etc. Kudos Trek.

- Speaking of companies snatching victory from the jaws of defeat -- Mavic had a bullet-dodging month. Ricardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli of Saunier Duval-Scott rode Mavic Cosmic Carbone Ultimates to their scandalous mountaintop victories, and then this photo got healthy circulation on the internet. But redemption came with Cyril Dessel’s ballsy victory on the breathtaking stage to Bonnette-Restefond. We care less about the fact that he was riding on Mavic wheels. Rather, check out his shoes. This is a sneak peek of Mavic’s groundbreaking line of shoes they’re introducing for 2009. We’ve been lucky enough to lay hands on these shoes, and they’re the shocker so far of the new ’09 products we’ve seen -- and yes, this includes what we’ve seen of the ’09 Dura Ace. These shoes are wickedly light, nicely priced, and they’re gorgeous to behold (we loved the yellow -- but they come in other colors too!) Be prepared to get caught off-guard by these. We were.

- Speaking of the Saunier Duval team, are you as mystified as we are about the decision by Scott Bicycles to pick up the sponsorship tab to finance the team budget through the end of the year? Scott Montgomery -- the big boss of Scott USA, and the brains who originally put together the Cannondale/Saeco/Mario Cipollini deal -- is front & center in the Bike Marketing Hall of Fame. He’s brilliant. But as the primary source of funding for the team, why didn’t he demand a house-cleaning of the team’s day-in/day-out management? When it comes to doping, Saunier Duval Team DS Mauro Gianetti (who did his best Christopher-Walken-in-the-Deer-Hunter routine when he was still a pro rider) is possibly more symbolic of institutionalized doping than any other ex-pro. Sure, he can play pass-the-buck as much as he wants, but as Garmin-Chipotle has proven -- perceptions matter. Why didn’t Scott shitcan him? When Gianetti said to the media ‘The team is totally distanced from doping practices. I have been duped by [Ricco and Piepoli] who I trusted’ -- did anyone believe him? Anyone at all?

- The only thing more irritating than the Ricco and Piepoli situation was David Millar’s all-too-vocal reaction to it. ‘The unfortunate thing is when things look like they’re too good to be true, they are too good to be true…It is just amazing that [Ricco] is that irresponsible and doesn’t have any love or care for the sport.’ What does the ‘Most Sanctimonious Rider’ jersey look like? Does it have a cross on the back? A chip on the shoulder? Track marks on the arms? I don’t know, but I do know that if Millar is interested in fighting doping, he’d be best served to choose his words more carefully. The last thing we need is Wilt Chamberlin preaching abstinence. To quote the late, great Raymond Carver, ‘Will you please be quiet, please?’

- We’re not keeping score, but according to what we know, Garmin-Chipotle née Slipstream still hasn’t won a mass-start bike race of note in, like, 2 seasons. Yes, they won the TTT’s at Georgia and the Giro. Yes, they won the GC title at the Route de Sud. But as of now, they haven’t won a single mass-start race of significance. A question for you: Does this matter? If you were Garmin, what are your benchmarks for marketing ROI? Does the European press have the same sort of Rain Man obsession with Garmin’s anti-doping regimen as the Versus TV network here in the US? If the answer is ‘yes’, then perhaps they never need to win a real race -- PR is PR, right? But if the answer is ‘no’ and the Euro press shows a greater interest in reporting race results than moral crusades, does there get a point where the lack of palmares becomes a problem? Garmin is trying to sell GPS systems, by God, and 2nd place (or 10th place) doesn’t get you on the cover of l’Equipe. I’m not being critical. Rather, I’m just asking a simple question: Do wins matter? Or, to put it another way, if you offload Danielson and Backstedt’s salaries, can you afford Ciolek?

- Is anyone else getting tired of the KoM competition? Wouldn’t the race be entirely more exciting if fantastic climbers like Bernard Kohl were motivated by winning stages instead of sprinting ahead with 200m to go atop every climb? If you’re gunning for the KoM it freezes you in your tracks: You’ll never attack, you only exert energy to capture points. At least the green jersey revolves around winning stages. Maybe the ASO ought to modify the KoM to only give points on race-ending climbs. Bernard Hinault was the last KoM wearer I can remember who captured the jersey because of his aggression as a whole. Richard Virenque? Mauricio Soler? Give me a break. Isn’t it time to re-think this competition?