Now, Denis Menchov is a great rider, and it's easy to forget that he has three Grand Tour victories to his name. But for some reason, it's easier to remember that he hits the deck more than any other big name rider I can think of. He crashes going uphill, in time trials, on descents...it's really quite remarkable. I looked for scratches and blood (or chicken feathers) but couldn't find any evidence.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I was somewhat fascinated by Thor's green Zipp wheelset. Here is a photo of why. For some reason, I think they are the coolest wheels but the bike itself is really sweet across the board. Black and green Cervelo with Speedplays and Zipps? Yeah, sign me up. Green is for the money.
Here is a lineup of rigs from Shimano's Pro Tour teams. The emergence of SRAM into the road market has been amazing but Shimano still brings some phenomenal product to the table. However, the coolest thing in this photo is the Cav-Custom green cockpit on the Scott in the foreground. The least cool thing is the pair of orange knickers that the dude on the right is wearing.
Here is another shot of the green cockpit from PRO. Notice how bulky and gigantic the stem is, as well as the slightly odd tape job on the bars. Not sure if that was to show more of the graphics or what, but that tape seems a little wide to my eye and would bother my hands on the tops. I think this setup was designed by Bishop Don Magic Juan.
As you can already tell, many companies make significant efforts to display their Pro affiliations. In a sport where equiment really does count, this is important to both customers and marketing managers alike. Vittoria couldn't really show a bunch of worn-out tires so they displayed signed jerseys from the teams that they sponsor. However, they may have been the signatures of the employees at their factory for all I know...I doubt anyone really checked the authenticity.
Here is another wall of jerseys from Vittoria. I think I would probably have put the Garmin and Lampre jerseys above the Rock Racing one. But that's just me. And someone should have thought some more about having the Cervelo guys sign the jersey in black ink. Oh well.
The SRAM booth had a nice display of bikes from the Tour which was understandable, considering they swept the podium with Astana and Saxo Bank. Here is Andy Schleck's rig, which looks almost exactly like his brother Frank's...just a little better.
This is actually the TT bike that Lance used in the Tour of California. I'm not sure if it was the one that was stolen in Sacramento but at least it didn't have hundreds of dead butterflies pasted all over it. I have a significant appreciation for and understanding of artwork of many kinds but I am still having a hard time reconciling Lance's use of "pickled shark artist" Damien Hirst's grotesque butterfly paint job on his Champs Elysees bike at the Tour. There are plenty of great artists out there who do not have to resort to a sickening misappropriation of Nature's beauty in order to make a name for themselves. Regardless of whether he used his own "bred" butterflies, if one animal was killed to serve this pathetically arrogant purpose, it was not worth it. Terrible decision all around.
Contador's bike however, was a very nice example of class and complex graphic work. I like this bike a lot and thought it was neat that they incorporated the three Grand Tour hash-marks on the seat-tube, which have been pink, gold and yellow on his other bikes. Similar to Thor's Cervelo, this is just a really fast-looking, classy machine that pays homage to the event while still looking like it means business. Awesome wheel graphics too.
The fastest bike in the world? Probably. Cancellara's TT bike looks like a nasty tempered, two-wheeled version of Knight Rider. This bike hates it's life...getting mauled by some gigantic Swiss freak of nature who makes 400 watts seems like a rest period. Carbon and alloy can only take so much stress and strain. I predict this bike will commit suicide to end the misery.
I am still waiting for the lab tests to come back but my prediction is that the name tag on Franco Pellizotti's bike was worn off as a result of the toxic effect of Jheri-Curl juice. As we all know from experience, there is a lot of sweat that drips onto the top tube during a race. So it makes sense that a high dose of extremely concentrated hair products would destroy the stickers and paint job just behind the headtube of Franco "Soul Glow" Pellizotti.
As much as I will continue to heckle Soul Glow Pellizotti (BTW - what ever happened with the whole racism deal at the Tour?) for his blonde soul patch and Side Show Bob hairdo, I cannot argue with the fact that he has had a great season. Although, with the advent of colored shorts in bike racing, I am no longer certain that winning the polka-dot jersey is an honor or just an opportunity to look like a freaking clown. I guess it's both really. But Jalabert never looked like a clown, Herrera never looked like a clown. So why have Michael Rasmussen, Soul Glow and almost everyone else recently looked like idiots when they lead the mountains classification? Colored shorts...that's why. And stupid hairdos.
Anyway, in an effort to support the industry I will admit that the polka-dot bike is rad. Polka-dot shorts are criminal, but this Cannondale is pretty sweet. You see a ton of Donkeys out there who try to rock the King of the Mountains kit but nobody has the real-deal polka-dot bike to go with it. That is legit. Not like the 275lb cat I see at the Tour of California every year in full Rabobank polka gear on a mountain bike.
Besides the personalized bikes, another really cool Pro feature are custom shoes. I think these are Bradley Wiggins' track shoes but since the Brits basically own every Velodrome event these days, they could belong to someone else. But I'm pretty sure they were made for Wiggie Smalls. The Bont shoe display was like a rainbow of shiny leather and carbon but these lace-up kicks were the most eye-catching. I hate laces though. I wish I could wear velcro shoes all the time. Does Roos make a wingtip model?
Now THIS bike is really what it's all about. Personally, I have always been drawn to Scott's paint schemes from a graphic perspective but this custom job for Mark Cavendish is just about as sweet as it can get. Taking the theme from the old Spitfire fighter planes, this thing just literally oozed Fastness through the display case. The sharp silver, black, white and yellow highlights have a slightly matted look that enhances the tough appearance.
But the coolest details of all are the painted lady on the headtube and markings on the toptube to represent each of Cav's six stage wins. This photo shows the graphics of rivets and sheet metal panels as well, which enhance the sensation that this bike is truly unique. There are a lot of cool paint jobs out there but this rig actually looks like it was made differently and is a great modern take on a classic theme. I am usually not fond of War references in sports but this bike won my prize for Best Pro Bike at the show. There was a Colnago and a Serotta that get my DREAM bike award but Cav's Scott Spitfire was super fly.