While an abundance has already been said in other places, I thought todayâ€™s Monday Musette might be as good a time as any to share my own thoughts following Thursdayâ€™s presentation of Team Leopard-Trek (and there will be no pictures of indigenous people sporting full-body tattoos).
1. Overall, the presentation itself was an incredible let-downâ€”we should all feel duped for having contributed to the hype. Iâ€™m glad I didnâ€™t go out of my way to watch it live.
2. In fact, the only real news came before and after the event when it was announced that the squad would be called Team Leopard-Trek, assumedly following a major infusion of funds from the American bike manufacturer.
Trekâ€™s co-title-sponsorship raises a few interesting questions, first and foremost: â€œthatâ€™s it?â€Â Itâ€™s hard to believe the only title sponsor Bryan Nygaard could find was one already on the hook. There was really no one else willing to step up to the plate?
3. Even more interesting is the fact that the team will be riding Shimano componentsâ€”a major coup for the Japanese firm, but a curiosity considering Trekâ€™s close ties to SRAM.Â Maybe SRAMâ€™s budget was already tappedâ€”or maybe Trekâ€™s not supporting the team as much as some might like us to believe.Â Either way, Shimanoâ€™s presence makes the long-rumored Radio Shack/Leopard merger harder to see coming to fruition in the near future.Â (But donâ€™t rule it out.)
4. And what about Radio Shack? Trekâ€™s been supporting Armstrong and Bruyneel since the late 1990â€™sâ€”doesnâ€™t it seem a bit odd (and telling) that Trekâ€™s apparently putting its chips elsewhere?Â Who will have access to new technology first?
5. As for the teamâ€™s kit, I think it resembles El Cyclista more than Rapha in terms of its design.Â Regarding the clothingâ€™s coloring, I wonder what will happen the first time we see Juan Antonio Flecha from Team Sky, Thor Hushovd from Garmin-Cervelo, and Fabian Cancellara from Leopard in a break together.
6. But whatâ€™s really startling about Team Leopard-Trekâ€™s jersey is the abundance of blank spaceâ€”wide canvases and bands just begging for a major sponsor to jump aboard.Â Did last minute deals fall through?Â Or is the team hoping to attract someone by essentially dressing the riders in giant â€œYour Ad Could Be Hereâ€ signs? Peculiar.
All in all, it was a bewildering event on a day that yielded more questions than answers.
In other news:
7. Thursdayâ€™s press conference did reveal one interesting bit of information: Fabian Cancellara wonâ€™t be riding Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Lombardy.Â While the Swiss star had hoped to make a serious assault on adding the only two monuments missing from his resume, it appears as if management has convinced him to change his mind for now.Â Would another Flanders or Roubaix win help fill some of those empty spaces?
8. Danilo DiLuca has apparently signed a one-year contract to race for Katushaâ€”for FREE. The Italian will ride the Giro in support of Joaquin Rodriguez and the Vuelta for himselfâ€”both races should be all the more exciting as a result.Â That said, someone might want to remind Andre Tchmil that not paying a rider doesnâ€™t absolve his team from the consequences should DiLuca revert to his old methods of preparation.Â Money might not be invested, but in this day and age, you canâ€™t put a price on transparency and respect.
9. And last but not least, thanks for your patience with our 2011 team kit.Â Weâ€™re in the final stretch and should have something to share with you soon.
Thanks and enjoy your week!
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