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
The Astana riders will also
Photo ©: Trek Bicycle Corporation
The change in team name,
livery, and sponsorship
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
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
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
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'
Photo ©: Powerbar
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…
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
Trek Bicycle Corporation
Trek Bicycle Corporation
PowerBar claims its new Magnesium Liquid will help.