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6 Tour of Missouri Haikus (and other news)

– Is anyone doubtful of Di2 anymore? Based on what we can tell, the pro peloton has fully embraced it. To wit: George Hincapie won the US Pro using Di2. If he had any doubts about it, you can rest assured he would’ve been on mechanical 7900 instead since the USPro championships in his hometown probably only ranked behind Paris-Roubaix as his most important date on the ’09 race calendar. And at the Tour of Missouri we saw no shortage of it on ProTour bikes. Repeat after me: Omigod, electronic shifting is here to stay.

We talked to a ProTour rider before the St. Louis stage. He’d ridden the Giro d’Italia on Di2 and said it worked flawlessly, except on one bad-hilly stage where he only had use of 3 of his cogs because of a crash on the previous day. His team mechanics slaved over it ‘for 5 hours’ trying to get the shifting to work and they couldn’t. So Shimano came by and replaced it all. That’s sort of charming to us -- it either works flawlessly (which is all we’ve ever experienced), or you’ve gotta buy it all over again. In a world of grey, Shimano provides us the relief of black & white.

– Team Liquigas at the hotel gift shop

I buy salty snacks.
The Italians buy purple
tubs of L’Oreal

– In an industry where independent commentary is nearly non-existent and sanitized press releases pass as editorial remarks, our pal Brad Menna of SRAM made us laugh with his bits of Eurobike smack talk on Twitter.

– The Naming of Things

It’s prohibitive:
‘Franco Pelozotti’s hair.’
Too long for haiku.

– The parent company of Mavic is an outfit known as Amer Sports, and they also Salomon, Taylor Made, and a slew of other high-zoot sporting goods manufacturing brands. They earned the mother of all headlines at Eurobike by making it damn clear that they want to sell off Mavic, and they want to do it ASAP.

It’s a great brand -- the most well-regarded wheelset name in the industry (I say this despite the R-SYS mess and their struggles in getting their apparel division off the ground.) Cutting to the chase, here’s our question: Who should buy them?

Here’s who it can’t be: Any bike manufacturer. After all, have you ever seen a Bontrager wheel on anything but a Trek or Fisher? Have you ever seen a Roval on anything but a Specialized? The quickest way to kill a component brand is to bring it inside the fold of a bike company.

We see a few good candidates: (1) SRAM. ‘But didn’t they just acquire Zipp?’ Yes indeed they did. But let’s review what Zipp doesn’t do well: (a) The MTB market, (b) sub-$2,200 wheelsets. The new alloy 101 wheelset has us intrigued, but it’s still a pretty hefty price point ($1,300). And the SRAM line of wheels leave us a bit cold -- both 2009’s heartless rebadging of Zipp’s (relatively) low-dollar Flashpoint line, and their ho-hum new-for-2010 options.

A Mavic acquisition by SRAM would make them the almighty behemoth of the wheelset market, and by virtue of this they’d assert their dominance in the component market as a whole (for road AND mountain). In terms of the wheels, they’d have MSRP’s covered from $200-$3,000, with the best-quality technology available across the board. It makes great sense to us.

(2) What about Easton? We’ve remarked in the past about how their aftermarket sex appeal is lacking (by ‘aftermarket’ we mean a component that you’d buy as an upgrade for your current bike.) As you might recall, Easton’s wheel line was born in part by their acquisition of Velomax many years ago. But Velomax’s ‘Twin Thread Technology’ long lost mindshare and in the time since they’ve developed little in the way of product innovation. This could be a fresh start for a company with a great name, a great rep, but with an excitement deficit.

(3) And from the Dept. of David-slaying-Goliath, how about Cane Creek? They already parlez road and mountain in other categories. Why not take 5 quantum leaps up in their wheelset department? Crazy idea, we agree. But we love an underdog.

– 7am, Hilton Main Lobby

In last night’s clothes, she
stumbles through. Jet-lagged Quick Step
pros head out to spin.

This picture is from earlier this summer, showing Cervélo Test Team field testing some new stuff.

– When, during a warm up ride with Team Columbia prior to Stage 1, a kid throws a big stick at Bernard Eisel, who proves he can curse gangsta-style: Loud, in fluent English. An anecdote from his teammate afterwards:

Insurgency: Once,
in Trenton, a kid rolled a
basketball at us.

– More US Pro: I’ve chatted with the author of this article in the past and he’s a sincerely nice guy, so my comment here isn’t a reflection on personal feelings. Rather, I look at it as a thought-provoking data point on the condition of the US professional peloton. In short, if you’re star-struck by standing next to Dave Z, are you really qualified for the USPro? Or, in other words, what passes as a ‘pro’ in the US? I know back in the Corestates heyday there weren’t enough real pros to fill up the US Pro championships, hence the need to fill out the field with non-Americans. But I’m under the impression that there are enough now to do so. Am I wrong? If that’s the case, I can think of like 50 first-rate amateurs who could serve as rabbits for the 1st half of the race. I don’t want to get into over-diagnosis based on one article. But this one threw me for a loop.

– Christian Vandevelde: Family Man

An entourage of
geriatric aunts and such.
He is sweet to them.

– That sound you hear is umpteen thousands of DirectTV cancellations. Tapout doesn’t exist on the Comcast version of Versus, right?

-Busch Stadium, in the eyes of my 3 kids, none of whom has ever attended a Major League Baseball game

7-story bird
with bat can’t match freebies at
Jelly Belly’s bus.

– Final bit of US Pro: Nice interview with Competitive Cyclist homeboy Craig Lewis on Pez. The idea of racing 100+ miles with the swine flu is nuts. No, not nuts…it’s PRO.