By Luke Webber in Offenburg, Germany
To most onlookers at the opening UCI World Cup in Houffalize the GT factory team camp was operating as a well oiled machine, powering US Olympic hopeful Todd Wells to a career-best eleventh place finish on a brand-new GT Zaskar Carbon. However, for both Wells and his teammate, Burry Stander, these bikes were anything but part of the race day plan.
Both riders were originally supposed to race on their familiar aluminum bikes from late 2007 while the new carbon frames waited in the team van until time allowed for a proper build and shake-out period later in the season. However, Saturday morning brought an unpleasant surprise for the GT, Multivan Merida, Scott, and Hope crews as a rash of overnight thefts left many without bikes and other key equipment. Fortunately for GT those new carbon frames were left inexplicably untouched (others were not so lucky) and a manic building process ensued to salvage the weekend. Helped by some friends who had come to spectate for the weekend, team mechanic Mark Maurrisen set forth on a frantic mission sourcing parts from across the expo area.
Both bikes were ready to go by the evening but they were still something of an unknown quantity having never been ridden before. As any mechanic will tell you, this was far from an ideal scenario as cables stretch and new components bed in.
Nevertheless, the team's spirits were lifted just 18 hours later as both riders were racing in the top 20 and Wells later gushed that the untested bike rode "like a dream."
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