Monday, April 26, 2010

UPDATED: Nature Valley Bans Time Trial Bikes - WTF?

Further evidence that the cycling Apocalypse is nigh: the Nature Valley GP bans time trial bikes in...the individual time trial.

According to the Vino-haters at VeloNews, the Nature Valley Grand Prix's executive director David LaPorte announced the decision to disallow TT bikes Sunday after conferring with team managers planning to be at the start on June 16.

“The decision was made partly to simplify logistics for the teams and partly out of fairness,” LaPorte said. “We have a time cut in the time trial to ensure that no one loafs to stay fresh for the criterium that night. But in the past, we have had some strong riders cut primarily because they did not have time trial bikes. We have also had some riders in the past who haven’t competed because of the expense of bringing two bikes, particularly with the outrageous charges the airlines are imposing.”

Furthering Pappillon's belief that it's not what you know, but rather, who you know that decides backroom success in pro cycling in this country, Danny van Haute - who was only too happy to show-off his team's new Focus TT bikes to VeloNews in February - offered this gem in support of LaPorte's decision to go-back-in-time:

Not everyone can buy time trial equipment and if the pro teams have this equipment, it’s not fair to the riders who don’t."

Ummm, right. It's also not fair when pros use EPO that amateurs (or other pros, for that matter) can't get their hands on. But that hasn't stopped some US riders from saucing-up in preparation for the domestic season. And shouldn't Jelly Belly be encouraging its competitors to buy Focus TT bikes so that they're competitive in...time trials? And so that Focus makes money, of course, enabling them to sponsor teams like - Jelly Belly.

Questions:

1) Will Van Haute be boxing-up those Focus TT bikes and sending them back to Germany to ensure his riders don't have any unfair advantages over the competition?


2) Is Focus Bicycles USA CEO Scott Rittschof regretting sponsoring a team run by a director who is not willing to fight for a) his riders and b) his suppliers? (optional additional question: and c) Common Sense?)

Rittschof was quoted by VeloNews, gushing, "For us being a new brand in the U.S. it was really important that we made a relationship with a team that could help us build the credibility that we have in the European market. Jelly Belly, being the longest standing sponsor in the U.S. made it the obvious choice.”

So much for building credibility. But Focus didn't really want to sell any TT frames in the USA anyway, did they? Pappillon posed this question to Derby Cycle Werke GmbH (the Focus-brand's parent company) and is awaiting a response.

UPDATED: Thanks to Focus Bicycles USA CEO Scott Rittschof for the kindness of his response, which is in keeping with the theme of the article and can be found as a comment to this post.

+ 1 to UnitedHealthcare's team director Mike Tamayo for being a voice of reason. Regarding LaPorte's decision, Tamayo was quoted by CyclingNews saying:

"I think it's absurd. It's a time trial and therefore you should be allowed to use time trial bikes. It's another opposing of rules that is not needed. Teams have always had time trial bikes there."

Tamayo continued to stew, fuming, "If your concern is that having time trial bikes puts a big gap in the race and doesn't make it exciting, last year's race was won in the last three laps of the final stage between Tom Zirbel and Rory Sutherland, both of whom had time trial bikes. So, if you are looking for nail-biting situations, how much more nail-biting can you get than that?"

16 comments:

  1. Two other questions that should be posed to Focus:

    1) How does your company and its shareholder (whether public or private) benefit when a brand representative supports decisions that inhibit the full and proper marketing of your most advanced designs and technology?

    2) Will you request the return of the Focus TT equipment provided to Van Haute, in light of his admission that he believes such equipment provides an unfair advantage to his riders?

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  2. Can't disagree with you more.

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  3. I agree with anon, too, at least for non-pro/elite categories, but especially juniors and cat4/5.

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  4. Due to the carefully-layered sarcasm here, I can't decide if I can't disagree with you at all. I did chuckle, but it wasn't disapprovingly. Maybe I should read it again. Mike Tamayo is a card, isn't he? Won't the placings be pretty much the same and the riders still be on their sponsor's bikes? Maybe Nature Valley don't have one of those funny jigs that khaki-pant-denim-shirt people make from Erector sets. OK - I'll read it again. Danny van Haute is rad.

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  5. PS. Anon. 3: do you want an unpaid internship developing content for this blog? Your insights and perspective on the workings of pro cycling in the USA make you an ideal candidate to take over the Editor's responsibilities...

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  6. Jelly Belly have been racing in Thailand and Korea, where, suspiciously, TT bikes are not "allowed." Is Nature Valley favoring them and Kelly Benefit Strategies? Is AEG, as we speak, taking bids from the "allow" and the "don't allow" factions for their Tour of California? How deep does this conspiracy go? Will I get the reference in Toto? I love posting anonymously - hope i can decipher the squigly letters faster this time. I'm going on Yelp to smack my HOA down!

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  7. Imagine if dropped $2900 on a Cervélo P3 from Competitive Cyclist, instead of paying your taxes, and then found out that USA Cycling supported banning such bikes in the interest of "fairness." That's fucked-up! You could be like, "Shit, I should have just spent $1,000 on EPO and pockeded the other $2k or spent it on massages!"

    word verification (aka squiggly lines): vinosuxballz

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  8. Vinosuxballz, nice. lol

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  9. There's an editor? With responsibilities? Unpaid? Will my unpaid role as khaki-pant-denim-shirt Erector give me time off? Oh cuss - here come the squiggly letters... Anon 3 (where do I type my name?)

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  10. Anon 3 - contact our HR dept. (hr.pappillon@rocketmail.com) to learn more about the roles and responsibilities of the position. I can say here though that you are allotted a certain amount of vacation time (in some cases you can earn up to 2 years off, depending on the results of your work-related drug test), and that we have an excellent incentive program related to compensation (the lack of which incentivizes you to get a new position elsewhere)!

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  11. And there's always getting The Flandrian to make a deadline or even start a project after an exciting and empassioned proposal.

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  12. Perhaps the new sponsor of this race is the 3T Zafiro :)

    http://www.thenew3t.com/details.aspx?i=road&t=Aerobars&p=zefiro&d=TEAM

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  13. Dear Joe,
    Danny van Haut, director of Jelly Belly Cycling p/b Kenda, may go down in history for many things, especially in the world of US pro cycling. Probably, “Killer of the TT Bike Market in the US” won’t be one of them. Not based on his comments, regarding Mr. LaPorte's decision to effectively disallow TT bikes in the Nature Valley Grand Prix 9.6 km St. Paul Riverfront time trial on June 16, anyway. We’ll try to make do with the exposure Jelly Belly p/b Kenda get at the Tour of California. TT bikes have not been banned there yet, as far as we know.

    In all seriousness, we’re not crazy about Mr. Laporte’s decision, but we love what his race represents for bike racing. Danny spoke regarding Mr. Laporte’s point on the costs racers face getting bikes to the event. The point is legit at some levels of racing. We all know it. Its not legit at others. I’m not qualified to comment as to its legitimacy in this case. However, more than anything, we need good races to continue. Mr. Laporte must make that call regarding his race, and he seems to be taking the decision carefully.

    Scott Rittschof, CEO
    Focus Bicycles USA

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  14. Scott Rittschof, thanks for taking the time to reply. Your sense of humor and perceptiveness are well-appreciated.

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  15. Jancouver, that certainly is a nice bar set and would look great on the start-line of the Nature Valley GP, en lieu of a time trial rig.

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