Jul 262010
 
Bike racing

The 2010 Tour de France will go down in history as a gruelling three weeks. Crashes, scalding temperatures, endless climbing and doping allegations. It was a super tough challenge. And I’m only talking about it from the bikes’ perspective.

In week one there were crashes galore and whilst everyone was talking about Frank Schleck‘s broken collar bone his Specialized Tarmac Roubaix road bike was the real loser. The sleek racer had already suffered a number of crashes in the first few stages and it seemed to finally give up on the cobbles of stage 3 to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut. Rider and bike were forced out of the race and it began what was going to be a Tour of contrasting fortunes for the Specialized’s. Team Saxo Bank’s suffering, Team Astana taking advantage.

Another big US brand of bike was also suffering on the dusty cobbles during the chaos of the first week. Lance Armstrong’s Trek Madone punctured at the wrong time. The puncture cost him time and the myth of the invincibility of the Madone, 7 Tour de France’s and all that, seemed to be fading away.

The US manufactured bikes were also suffering in the sprints. Mark Cavendish‘s Scott Addict had been on terrifying form in 2009 but began the 2010 edition being overshadowed by the luridly painted Italian manufactured Willier Super Leggera of Alessandro Petacchi. The colour scheme of this machine indicated that it was full of energy and ready for a fight. Sure enough it powered to a couple of victories in week one. Whilst the Giro was won by an Italian on an American bicycle (Canondale), the Tour’s green jersey was going to be a complete Italian success. Italian bike, Italian rider and Italian team (Lampre).

The bright new entrant into the Tour was the Black and Blue Pinarello Dogma being raced by Team Sky. The bike had lofty ambitions from the start of the season and was aiming for something great in the race. A couple of good outings for Geraint Thomas’ bike could not hide the shortcomings that were evident in Wiggins’ timid Prologue. The Dogma will have to get back on the Battle Bus and plan again for next year’s campaign.

Which brings us back to where we began. In the shape of the contrasting fortunes of two Specialized road bikes. Saxo and Astana. Racing up the Porte De Bales Saxo attacked Astana with a surge of confidence and elegance. 50 metres were won in the space of a few moments and the strength and pace of the bike seemed certain. Astana had no answer. However, at altitude, amongst the soaring Pyreneen peaks, where the Tour initially took to life 100 years ago, Saxo’s chain slipped. It would not be put back on quickly. Faltering on the hill, Saxo saw Astana attack past and on up the hill. At that moment Saxo’s Specialized S-Works Tarmac lost the Tour.

It was a tough 3 weeks for the carbon fibre road machines of the Pro Tour. They were raced hard each day, on some of the hardest stage racing experienced in recent years. Specialized and Willier came out on top, Scott came good in the end but the biggest losers were Trek and Pinarello.

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