Garmin-Cervelo 2011

 

Argyle is (mostly) out and the classic black look of the now-defunct Cervelo Test Team is in.  Garmin did more than just bring Thor, Haussler, etc., and Cervelo in as a co-sponsor; they took on much of the identity of the fallen squad.  A few touches of argyle remain on the collar and cuffs as an homage to the team’s history, but otherwise you’d think that Cervelo brought in Garmin, not the other way around.  No word on if they’ll pull out a white kit for the Tour de France as Cervelo did  the past two years (cuz you know, it’s kinda hot in July.)

Verdict: A nice look, but dissapointing to see the Slipstream identity be so minimized.

The Curious Case of Filippo Pozzato

This June, I plan on writing a series of posts focusing on National Championships and the jerseys that the winners get to wear during their reign.  But last Sunday, as the head of the Paris-Roubaix peloton was being led by no less than a trio of national champions, the case of the current Italian Champion, Filippo Pozzato, got a bit, well, curiouser, and like West Virginia or the Oakland A’s, it seemed as Italy added another color to its traditional red, white and green.

On the surface, it would appear Pozzato’s black kit was a specially designed tribute to Franco Ballerini, the coach of the Italian national team who was killed in a rally crash earlier this year.  Ballerini was a two-time winner of Paris-Roubaix and the race organization was honoring him with a prize in his name going to the top Italian finisher.  But beneath the surface, this isn’t the first redesign of the Italian jersey for Pozzato.  In fact, it’s not the first time he’s broken out the black, either.

Pozzato won the Italian Road Race Championship last June–on a weekend when national championship races are held throughout Europe–affording him the privilege of wearing the Tricolore for the next year.  Traditionally, the Italian Champion wears a jersey that depicts the Italian flag, one-third each red, white and green. 

Pozzato, however, began racing last season for the Russian-based Team Katyusha, whose jersey features a silhouette of Moscow’s Skyline.  The team used that skyline as the basis for the Russian Championship jersey being worn by Pozzato’s teammate, Sergei Ivanov.  When Pozzato won his country’s championship, the team attempted to do the same.  The Italian Federation said “negazione!”

Thus began the saga of Pozzato’s Italian attire, including the rejected Kremlin design, a short-lived vertical design and more conservative approach, all within the span of a the three-week Tour de France.

This year, Pozzato’s kit remained largely as it had at the end of last season, although the team was able to sneak the skyline detail onto the shorts.   However, when he raced in an off-season charity Cyclo-cross event, he broke out a special black design for reasons largely unknown (although I can’t imagine anybody wants to trudge through the mud and the cold in white spandex.)  The black jersey was thought to be a one-hit wonder like Katyusha’s first attempt until last Sunday.

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UPDATE – Pozzato was back in white at yesterday’s Amstel Gold Race.

Vlaanderen Leftovers

Two items caught my eye watching De Ronde yesterday. 

The first was the bright yellow helmet emblazoned with the Lion of Flanders that the Russian team Katusha was curiously sporting.  Turns out, the helmet manufacturer Lazer, was using this race as an opportunity to promote a new product.  The guys at Bikerumor.com were on top of the story.

 The second was a post on cyclingnews.com stating Footon Servetto was wearing inverted black kit, instead of the predominantly gold version they debuted in January and have been wearing all season.  Fear not, however, as the backs of the Footon jerseys have always been black, a sort of Toronto Raptors effect, if you will.

Cobblestone Classics

In America, Thanksgiving Day presents an opportunity to gather with friends and family, eat some turkey, watch some football.  The football games of that day have such a comfort food factor, that the teams often take advantage of the marketing opportunity evoke memories of the past by wearing throwback jerseys.

In Vlaanderen (Flemish Belgium) the Sunday of the Tour of Flanders (De Ronde van Vlaanderen to locals) would be the rough equivalent to Thanksgiving Day, Super Bowl Sunday, and Master’s press conference Monday, all rolled into one.  It’s a day to gather with friends, drink plenty of Bier and watch some of the most hellacious cycling in the world.

Last year, Belgian team Quickstep, whose flooring many of you may walk on every day, attempted to evoke Belgians’ own memories of the past by wearing a vintage kit to commemorate their home race.  Now Quickstep wears a generally conservative look, especially compared to the look of the squad the team was formed from, Italian outfit Mapei (who’s mastic and grout, incidentally, may very well be holding up your shower or backsplash tiles.)  However, even as they rode to the start in their throwbacks, the UCI, roughly the equivalent of the NFL or MLB league office, nixed their plans.

Quick Step almost prohibited from starting Flanders

By Brecht Decaluwé – cyclingnews.com

Team Quick Step
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

The Quick Step team, with its local favorites Tom Boonen and Stijn Devolder, almost didn’t start the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday morning after they chose a vintage team kit that the UCI hadn’t approved.

Following the example set by the legendary Mario Cipollini, the Belgian Quick Step team created a special jersey to wear during its home Spring Classic.

Team manager Patrick Lefevre had expected that the UCI wouldn’t like the team’s action, but he figured Quick Step would simply be penalized 2,500 Swiss Francs fine if they raced in the new kit. Then Lefevre learned that the UCI planned to prohibit Quick Step from starting in Brugge.

“I can’t understand it,” said Lefevre to Het Nieuwsblad. “It shows the conservative vision within the governing cycling body. With this mentality, it’s no wonder we’re not attracting new sponsors in cycling.”

Quick Step showed up at the start in their vintage kit for sign in, but then the team rode back to its bus and changed back into the normal Quick Step kit in time for the start.

Indeed, the aforementioned Mario Cipollini’s team Saeco had been known in the past to wear special one-day jerseys either to make a statement about their bike, or to celebrate the 2099th anniversary of the birth of a certain Roman ruler who wound up lending his name to a tasty salad.  In none of those cases was Saeco prohibited from starting the race, only fined a small amount that their sponsor gladly paid for the added publicity.

So Quickstep was forced to ride the race in their standard kit, which didn’t stop Belgian Stijn Devolder from winning his second edition in a row.  And when the time came for Stijn to climb atop the podium, he had smartly changed back into his first outfit of the day.

Not all was lost with the throwbacks, however.  When it came time for the team to design their kit for 2010, they didn’t look far.

Hello, My Name Is…

The cycling jersey serves two functions.  First, it needs to be aerodynamic and breathable, so that the cyclist can gain the greatest scientific advantage against the wind and head.  But possibly more importanly, it serves as a wearable billboard to promote those brands that support the team wearing the jersey.  Say, a certain mail service.  Or a brand of GPS.  Seemingly every inch of the jersey is reserved for any sponsor that will pay for their logo to appear.  Think…NASCAR.

But as I was watching a race from Belgium last weekend, something odd caught my eye.  Team Sky is new to the peloton.  Financed by Rupert Murdoch and promoting his English (the country, not the language) satellite news channel, there’s plenty of money to go around without having to search for too many additional sponsors.  So instead of slapping a secondary sponsor along the side of the jersey, they decided to do something different. 

Every rider on Team Sky has their name and their national flag on the side of their jersey.  So Juan Antonio Flecha (right) gets to ride with his name and a Spansih flag on his kit.  And when Kiwi Greg Henderson won in the team first race, it was his name as well as that of the sponsor’s that was on display atop the podium. 

I thought the Sky had come up with something uniquely individual for their team’s riders, until on the very next day, I saw a rider from American Team HTC-Columbia celebrating his victory.  On display on the back of his jersey (left) was his name, (Bernard) Eisel and an Austrian flag.  Not a very Yankee thing to do. Further research (err…Googling) proved that this practice went back to last year, as evidenced by Mark Cavendish’s celebrating of a Tour de France stage win with teammate George Hincapie, back when the team was known as Columbia-HTC.

Yet while other teams have yet to jump on board as far as they jersey goes, another team employs the same practice on the bicycle itself.  Take a look at the seatstay–the diagonal tube between the seat and the rear wheel–and you’ll see a Belgian flag and the name “Boonen” (right.)  That would be Tom Boonen, Belgian national champion, aboard his Team Quickstep Eddy Merckx ride.

I hope I’ve enlightened a few of you with this post, or at the very least held your interest.  I hope to use this blog as a space to pass along news, make some pointed observations, and gather information about the form of professional cycling, if not the function.