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."
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