There are riders that you just love to watch. That on their day can light up a race and help us remember that all the politics and nonsense that goes on between the UCI and the teams is….well, just bullshit. These are the guys that make us scream at the TV. Two of those riders are Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre. The sight of Menchov running screaming back down the home straight after remounting in the final TT of the GIRO and then going on to win the overall is still one of my favorite moments in the sport. That, alongside “Carlito” attacking on Alpe D’Huez, probably one of my more emotional moments in the sport. Perfect tactics matched with sublime climbing, man did I scream at the TV that day.
So any team built around these two great riders you would think would be a shoe-in for the top league of our sport (The Pro-Tour), but alas no. They will be made to fight to justify their place in the biggest races in the 2011 season. I am sure they and their teammates will find motivation in this, and prove they deserve the chance to compete. There is too much class there not to. So as the Tour Down Under kicks off with new teams, kits and sponsors, the Geox-TMC team went quietly about their business and kicked off their season in Tarragona, Spain. Perhaps appropriately dressed all in black (they are still waiting for their new kit design to arrive) and in danger of looking like a Rapha Ad, two Grand Tour winners and a winner of San Sebastian rolled out on a training ride. I am looking forward to seeing this group of riders proving their status wrong. We all love an underdog, although with a line-up of this quality they may not qualify for that status.
Last year one of the more unique and memorable paint jobs in the peleton was the “Golden” Fuji that the team used. For anyone that saw that frame in the flesh, you will understand the show-stopping look that paint had. The paint was actually ground-down aluminum combined with paint to get the finish. This year the Philly based-ASI company will again be supplying the team, with the new Fuji Altamira, which debuted at the Vuelta last year. Looking at the pictures below, the paint design and the gloves look like we are going to get something a little more colorful than the black kits at the training camp.
The shots in the post were captured by Michael Crook, who spent time with the team at their training camp in Spain. When I asked her how it was all going, and what was up with the black kits she explained the reason and said, “Menchov knocked me dead when I first saw him in it”. She is going to be spending the first part of the year over in Europe living the dream and following teams and races.