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The Cancellara Crusade

- Last week’s news about Cervélo spawned a tropical storm of opinion, both in the form of comments in our What’s New section, and in discussion elsewhere. In case you have a life and didn’t track it, let us play RSS reader for you. Some highlights, though not comprehensive at all --

Competitive Cyclist What’s New
Cervélo.com #1
Cervélo.com #2
Slowtwitch.com #1
Slowtwitch.com #2
Boulder Report #1
Boulder Report #2

Corrections & AmplificationsNot all of the comments are complimentary of Competitive Cyclist, which is fine since we’re all about the open market of ideas. It’s clear, though, that a couple of corrections & amplifications might be helpful:

*A gentleman named Kyle from San Francisco wrote ‘…[your] post reeks of teenage jealousy from the cheerleader (CC) who didn’t get asked to prom by the quarterback (Cervelo). Stay classy, Competitive Cyclist, stay classy.’ -- Sage advice, especially since classiness has been a topic on our radar screen here since a friend sent us this photo in context of the Contador doping story with an expression of hope that, unlike Heras, el pistolero will fade into the sunset with the quietude of Miguel Indurain. Kyle, we’ll try to heed your words, thanks for the reminder.

* A reader named Linda from Charleston wrote ‘[U]gh such arrogance! I have been leaning away from CC for a while now. Nail meet coffin.’ This, perhaps, was the most upsetting thing penned last week about l’affaire Cervélo. Linda, let me be clear that arrogance -- alongside kneeknocking handsomeness, native intelligence, and not-unimpressive legspeed -- these qualities have been at the core of my being for well over a decade, and likewise they’ve been integral to my leadership at Competitive Cyclist since we flipped the ‘on’ switch 11 years ago. You only noticed now? I’m devastated. [Insert analogy for fear of impotence & ineffectiveness here.]

* And, lastly, for the many people who took exception to my comment that ‘…we’ll finalize our plans for filling the Cervélo financial void by lunchtime’ -- some clarity seems to be in order. Actually, it’s less clarification and more confession: We didn’t come up with a brilliant ‘Plan B’ by lunchtime last Monday. The fact, actually, is that it was a lunchtime decision we made back in Autumn 2008. Our motivation in having done so was no different from that shown by Cervélo: We’re seeking to resurrect Cervélo’s peak period of brand magic -- a moment of time easy to identify: The Cancellara Crusade, beginning with his ’06 dominance of Paris-Roubaix, intensifying with his stranglehold in the 1st week of the ’07 Tour de France, and then peaking (and more or less gloriously burning out) with his brilliance at the ’08 Milan-San Remo.

Cancellara on his Cervelo Soloist CarbonWe’re in lockstep with Cervélo in our goal: Rekindle the magic. Blame it on global recession. Blame it on significant technological improvements in other brand bikes. It’s been 2 years of asking ourselves the same question: ‘Is it a little less slam dunk-like to sell Cervélos now than it was before?’ It has nothing to do with their bikes -- they’re desirable in 100 different ways, and it’s what you should buy. Rather, by 2008 the market put up a fight on the high end with engineering and marketing firepower commensurate with the threat Cervélo represented.

It’s like we had a secret meeting with Cervélo sometime around ’08, the result of which was two divergent paths: For Cervélo, they busted their tails in taking over their own European wholesale distribution and they worked just as hard to expand their US dealer base: Their goal with their enhanced corporate footprint was to fuel revenue growth -- a smart move. Their announcement about online sales last week was another step in that strategic pursuit of control, scale, and profit.

And just as Cervélo couldn’t let themselves stay reliant on their Team CSC-era sales structure and dealer base, we realized (at said lunchtime) back in 2008 we couldn’t allow Competitive Cyclist to become overly addicted to any one vendor, which was the exact threat back then when our Cervélo inventory turns were as red hot as Assos Chamois Cream. For us (as a retailer, not the manufacturer), it required a different path to protect our long-term interests. We spent a year on a work-study mission: Just like we put a bullseye on Cervélo back in 2004 and doubled-down on an inventory and marketing commitment to align ourselves with their impending market superstardom, we endeavored to do the same for the 2011 season. Let us be clear: that work is now complete, and while we can’t name names, we certainly watched the final few km’s of this weekend’s Tour of Lombardy with a cheery glass of Champagne in hand.

- One part anniversary, one part Halloween costume: Yeti turns 25 and dresses up Astana-Team-Issue-style.

- Am I the only one chuckling at the domestic pro dopage melodrama of late? The idea of risking reputation, karma, and legal peril to Top 10 at San Dimas has the amusingly disproportionate risk/reward of paying off the Math Club president to take the SAT in your name -- your last ditch effort to academically qualify for a Division III basketball diving team. Doping isn’t the problem for a certain faction of American pro cycling lifers. It’s dignity -- the lack thereof, specifically. The evidence proves that the US pro circuit has one purpose above all others: It’s something to be largely skipped if you’re planning on being PRO. If, for the Giro, the code phrase is ‘The buffalo needs some pasta,’ then for the US pro peloton is it ‘The corgy needs some Taco Bell?’

- Once Lombardy was done, it was a family day at the State Fair. Forget Campagnolo. Forget Pinarello. When my 5yr old and I got into our bumper car little did we know how PRO and bellissimo our machine would be.

- Do you have an iPad? If so, download the Zinio app and buy an iPad ProCycling subscription. Lord knows I’ve busted the chops of Future Publishing for what they did to cyclingnews.com, but man oh man ProCycling looks juicy and fabulous on an iPad. Props on the accomplishment.

Canyon - Back outside thank goodness- To the many kind people who’ve written notes and otherwise expressed good wishes about my August shoulder surgery, thank you. Last week marked my first outdoor riding in almost 2 months. My summertime saddle-to-bar drop feels severe and reminds me with pinpoint accuracy where the surgeon dug in. And my summertime fitness -- it’s vaporized. I’m human sausage casing in my team kit, more specifically an overheated Johnsonville bratwurst whose casing doesn’t blister so much as it balloons -- a limited-but-strategic tumescence at my waistline signaling just how wrong things have gone.

Wells-Tower I tried the Powertap Indoor Cycle thing -- at one point 9 days in a row of it -- Job-like suffering not simply because riding indoors has that familiar inherent misery, and not simply because I was doing it when it was sunny & 70 outside, but mostly because it was a season’s-end type of goal-less & regimen-less riding -- mental rigor posturing as physical rigor, not unlike yoga, and for those of us who don’t appreciate mental rigor (i.e. most anyone attracted to the primal urge-laden realm of road racing), shit like yoga freaks us out for its total dissimilarity to the world we know; it intimidates further for suspicion that its mental-spiritual emphasis is likely little more than a ploy by yoga dudes to score tail at a Sinatra-like clip (as neatly illustrated by the author of the best book of short stories in 2009 (‘Everything Savaged, Everything Burned‘), and not entirely coincidentally, Pegoretti connoisseur, Wells Tower.) All of which to say -- riding bikes outdoors, I missed you.