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Tech News – December 13, 2007

Edited by James Huang

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Astana to ride Trek for 2008 season and beyond

Astana will ride Trek's top-end Madone 6.9 framesets
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The Astana riders will also utilize
Photo ©: Trek Bicycle Corporation
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The change in team name, livery, and sponsorship
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After much anticipation, Trek Bicycle Corporation officially announced today that it has entered into a "multiple year" agreement with Johan Bruyneel's Astana team. According to the arrangement, Trek will provide the Astana riders with Madone 6.9 framesets and a healthy selection from the company's Bontrager parts bin, including wheels, tires, saddles, handlebars, stems, bar tape, cages, and bottles. "We have a relatively standard agreement with the team," said Trek Road Brand Manager Scott Daubert. "We provide them with bikes; they provide us with race results and bike development and access to the riders. It's very similar to what we had with Discovery and US Postal. It's a partnership that helps us both."

The 2008 Astana team is quickly shaping up to look like last year's Discovery Channel team reborn with Bruyneel at the helm, several key Discovery riders moving over (including Levi Leipheimer and 2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador), and now the same bike sponsor. From an equipment standpoint, though, Astana will be more akin to a startup than a veteran team and can use little from Bruyneel's Discovery stores.

"The thing that's weighing the heaviest on us right now is that they're basically starting from scratch," said Daubert. "They only have limited access to the inventory that was on hand at their service course in Belgium so there are only a few items that were left behind from Tailwind. So some of that equipment has gone with Tailwind and the remaining bits will just be rolled into this next program. We're starting from ground zero, where the team can't use anything that says 'Discovery' or 'US Postal' on it so we're having to paint up and supply all new bikes for the program, and they have a full roster so it's a lot of equipment."

Daubert would not reveal the actual number of bikes committed to the program yet, but the figure is undoubtedly substantial. "I don't know if we have a final count because we're waiting on a couple of riders that are either coming or going, and I think in addition to that we're still sorting out what bikes are going to be considered home bikes, if there is anything that we can recover from the '07 program, so I kind of have a general number."

Assuming the usual allotment of home bikes, road race bikes, dedicated time trial machines, and spares, though, the number easily grows to well over one hundred and that doesn't even include the usual army of wheels and spare parts. In addition to the issue of team bike livery, the change from either Shimano Dura-Ace or Campagnolo Record to SRAM's new Red group also means the instant obsolescence of a long history of componentry that may or may not still be in use by team members.

Trek's announcement today won't have come as a big surprise to many, but Daubert suggested that the sponsorship deal was anything but a sure thing in the early going. "There were two phases to the development here," he continued. "The first one was before we had talked to Johan, before we knew there was going to be an opportunity with Johan. We talked about 'Do we want to have a team?', 'Do we want to wait a little while?', 'How important is it to our dealers to have a program?' We didn't want to be with a second rate or Continental team at this juncture. We considered the ProTour, or that level of racing to be the only place that we really wanted to invest. So those were some of the discussions we had before Johan had come to us and as soon as Johan presented his idea and what his plans were we were instantly interested because we have had a very good relationship with Johan."

Bruyneel's initial presentation and his long association with Trek was clearly enough to get his foot back into the door, but there were still multiple issues to resolve, according to Daubert. "We had questions that came about after that, after we'd started talking details with him. Among those questions were, 'Where are you going to race?', 'What do we do with equipment?' There were other categories that we wanted to do, like we had never done tires with the team before. We wanted to try to do that. Would he be willing to help us develop a tire, or a tubular? Was he into Trek clothing? Could we get the helmet category, which we could not. What components are they going to ride? Who are they talking to? What's happening there? And the reason why some of those questions were valid for us was we have relationships with all of those companies as well. A lot of those companies are vendors. We have a very good relationship with SRAM, we have a very good relationship with Shimano. Those were very much business-minded questions."

Also not lost on Trek was Astana's decidedly negative image in the sport. The team had been hit with multiple doping infractions just this past season including the ejection of its star rider from the Tour de France, Alexandre Vinokourov, and the subsequently shameful following of the rest of the team. "'What are you going to do with the team as far as image?'" wondered Daubert and Trek. "'How are you going to resurrect this program?' because it's no secret that Astana has been booted out of the Tour and other races over the last couple of years. What are you going to do to fix that? And so we asked pretty pointed questions, and Johan was able to outline a pretty good set of answers for us. We have a lot of faith in Johan. He's done some pretty good things for us, things that are very much behind the scenes that no one would know about or remember. He's helped us develop bikes, and there are a lot of reasons for us to work with Johan."

The veil has now been lifted on the mysteries surrounding Astana's bike and equipment sponsorship, but we'll have to wait for the answers to those other burning questions. For the sake of everyone involved, hopefully we'll all be satisfied with what we hear and we can get back to the business of racing.

Avanti frame design licensed to Focus

German-based Focus bicycles has reached an agreement with Avanti/Sheppard Industries Ltd to use its current Avanti Chrono Team and Pista Team carbon aero frames for use in its 2008 lineup. The Focus-branded versions will be known as the Izalco Chrono and Izalco Pista.

"We have worked hard to make both the Chrono Team and Pista Team exceptionally fast bikes with light, aerodynamic, super rigid frames and superior power transfer," said Avanti Product Manager Stephen James. "The speed of the bikes has recently been evidenced by World Championship titles on the track and at Ironman and we are very pleased Focus has recognized their ability. Our Avanti Design Technology process is enabling us to raise the bar in frame design at a world class level."

Avanti has also developed new versions of its aero frames that incorporate Oval Concepts' Jetstream technology into the unique split seat stays. The new Focus bikes will utilize an Oval Concepts Jetstream fork, but the Jetstream frame features will remain unique to Avanti.

PowerBar launches 'muscle elixir'

Got cramps?
Photo ©: Powerbar
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Muscle cramping is the bane of many cyclists' existence, and one of its many causes is purported to be an electrolyte imbalance created by a deficiency in sodium, potassium, calcium, or magnesium. PowerBar is addressing one part of the issue with a new product dubbed Magnesium Liquid. The new supplement is charged with magnesium citrate, which PowerBar claims is more readily absorbed than more commonly found sources such as magnesium carbonate or magnesium gluconate.

PowerBar recommends that users ingest one vial of Magnesium Liquid daily (preferably immediately prior to a workout) to maintain adequate magnesium stores. The low-calorie citrus-flavored supplement also contains vitamin B6 to facilitate energy metabolism.

Fallbrook Technologies expands range of NuVinci transmissions

NuVinci knocks 300g off of its innovative CVP hub…
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Fallbrook Technologies has updated its range of innovative NuVinci CVP internally 'geared' hubs with two new models for the 2008. The new N171T version has been beefed up for tandem use, while the new NuVinci N171 reportedly sheds a substantial 300g from last year's version courtesy of a handful of internal modifications and a new hub shell that wears a more modern-looking anodized finish. Fallbrook says the N171 will now accommodate a wider range of frames, such as those with vertical dropouts, and includes an improved shifter shape that is also easier to mount.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Trek Bicycle Corporation

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Trek Bicycle Corporation

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Powerbar

  • Got cramps? PowerBar claims its new Magnesium Liquid will help.

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com