Tech feature - January 9, 2006
De Rosa, Giant and Trek get ready for season 2006
As the Christmas holidays fade and the 2006 racing season looms, bicycle sponsors like De Rosa, Giant and Trek are working feverishly to get the new bikes ready. In many cases, one new training bike has already been sent to each rider after turning in their old bike before the end of last year.
Just north of Milano, Italy in Cusano Milanino, Cicli De Rosa was focused on finishing up the first batch of bikes for the Pro Continental team Acqua & Sapone. Cristiano De Rosa greeted Cyclingnews with his usual big smile and cheer when we showed up recently to see what the brand with a heart was up to for '06.
"These are the King X-Light frames we are finishing for Aqua & Sapone. Our friend Giancarlo Ferretti will run the team in 2006 and we think it will be a strong squad, with a good chance to race the Giro d'Italia," De Rosa explained to Cyclingnews.
He also described the challenge of building a a frame for A&S rider Andre Sosenka, the enormous Czech pro who set a new world hour record last year. "For Sosenka, we had to build a special aluminium frame before making a King X-Light for him to make sure we got the custom size and frame angles just right."
On a bittersweet note, as we passed a rack of unpainted King X-Light frames while touring De Rosa's compact workshop, we saw masking tape marked with names like O'Grady and White that were intended for riders from the ill-fated Sony Ericsson ProTour squad that Ferretti was to manage. When mentioned, Cristiano's usual sunny disposition darkened a little: "Oh, that was a lot of work for nothing... but now we are happy to work with Ferretti to sponsor Aqua & Sapone."
Cyclingnews also paid a recent visit to Giant Europe in Lelystadt, Holland, where we snuck into the T-Mobile service course while our Giant minder Tom Davies was otherwise occupied. There we found another friendly face, that of William Hebing.
Hebing is Giant Europe's former team wrench for their mountain bike squad and now stays close to home in Lelystadt, running the supply side of Giant's close-knit relationship with the T-Mobile team. William and his colleague Andy Wollny was extra busy this season, as T-Mobile had added a powerful women's squad to the mix for 2006.
We got an exclusive first look at T-Mobile's new team bike colours for 2006, with Hebing declaring: "All the T-Mobile riders will use our Giant TCR Advanced frame in 2006. We have a nice new colour scheme for next season and adding on the women's team is no problem for us; we're already set up to support a major ProTour team like T-Mobile so it's nice to add a women's program to the mix."
Across the pond, through the woods and across the fields to Trek we went next, where the American bike colossus is beginning their ninth year of sponsorship with the team now called the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team.
Scott Daubert, Trek's team liaison with Discovery, showed us around Trek's impressive new Advanced Composite Group and Prototype facility, where the team's 2006 bikes were being prepped for delivery to the Discovery Channel training camp in Solvang, California later this month.
As Cyclingnews penetrated the team bike inner sanctum deep in the bowels of Trek's factory, Daubert said "Discovery has an all-new colour scheme for 2006 team bikes and Cyclingnews is the first to get a look at it."
We watched as Trek engineer Mark Andrews hand-checked and prepped each frame in an exacting process that took at least one hour each. "Unlike our production Madone SL frame, for the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team frames, we drill a hole in the bottom bracket to allow the water that may collect during racing to drain more easily," explained Andrews, who we met at last year's Tour de France while he and Daubert were supporting the Discovery team.
We wondered out loud if one of the new '06 rigs was for Lance and Daubert pointed out the seven time Tour winner's new frame on the prep rack, but quickly explained that it was only for training and Lance was just not coming back to race again.