So Garmin are in a little bit of hot water with Pearl Izumi as it looks like the now infamous â€œwingedâ€ skinsuit prototypes have not been returned. (I’m bet this was just an error in the laundry department; they are probably â€œlost in the washâ€â€”no doubt to make a reappearance soon.) Obviously, with the announcement that Castelli will be providing the team with apparel for the next three years, it looks like Pearl Izumi put 2 and 2 together, andâ€”well, you get the picture. It’s a funny chain of events as I know that many clothing manufacturers have recently backwards engineered Castelliâ€™s Cervelo TestTeam Aero Jerseys and Shortsâ€”perhaps Pearlâ€™s afraid of Castelli beating them at their own game?
Seriously speaking, Garmin have lots of changes in store for next season: new riders, new staff, new bikes and components, and lots of new kit. We all know about the change in frames for next season, but what else is on the cards? According to my sources, the team is more or less swapping its 2010 set-up for Cerveloâ€™s, with the exception of wheelsâ€”and tires?â€”which will be Mavic. Lately, Garmin seems to change sponsors so regularly that one cannot be blamed for getting the feeling that the team (rightly or wrongly) considers its sponsors less â€œpartnersâ€ and more â€œsuppliersâ€. I hope this is a trend Mr Vroomen can reverse, bringing over from the CTT project the belief that suppliers are partners.Â Everybody benefits from the relationship in different ways, so in the end they all benefit. This has been proven over the last two years as some really great products came from the collaboration between Cervelo TestTeamâ€™s riders and sponsorship partners.
As for the skinsuits, I sincerely hope they were really lost.Â As we saw last week with the Canyon/Cervelo frame case, copying another companyâ€™s ideas may no longer be dealt as casually as in the past. Product development takes time and money and as a team supplier/partner it’s great to be able to provide a technological advantage to the riders.
Garmin-Cervelo will face a lot of challenges next year as the integration of the two programs will make the squad feel very fresh in many waysâ€”but this could go one of two ways. In the best case scenario, ‘a plan will come together’ and Garmin will have one of the two or three best teams for the cobbled classics and stage wins on the Tourâ€”although a true GC contender might be another year or two away. At worst, the riders don’t gel and internal power struggles over who gets to ride (never mind win) which races could be a DS’s worst nightmare. Should this be the case, a few missing skinsuits would be the least of Garminâ€™s problems.
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For more from Rich, please visit his site, Sprinting for Signs.
The real action will come when and if Castelli introduces a similar skin suit of it's own design and manufacture. Has Pearl Izumi patented it's design? Was the suit patentable subject matter in the first place? Oh, the issues abound.
Like many things time will reveal all.