WorldTour teams play bike shuffle
What teams are riding what bikes in the 2014 WorldTour and why is aero still increasingly important?
In addition to the personnel transfers that occur during this time of year, teams often change bike sponsors.
As you might have noticed in comparison to rider transfers, which is a game of musical chairs due to one and two year contracts, bike sponsors don't change too often – at least for 2014 they don't.
Euskaltel-Euskadi was all set to fold due to the poor Spanish economic conditions. However, there was good news that F1 driver Fernando Alonso has bought the Basque team's WorldTour license for a reported six million euros. It is also reported that he is honoring the contracts of the Euskaltel-Euskadi riders and the new team will be built around Samuel Sanchez. As of this writing full details haven't been revealed, but if I was a betting man I'd say we haven't see the end of the Orbea bikes on the WorldTour stage.
While Euskaltel-Euskadi has avoided folding, the Vacansoleil-DCM team has not been as lucky and will be nothing but a memory in 2014. The title sponsors for the Dutch team are not renewing and the search to replace them has been fruitless. Bianchi was the team's bike of choice and Bianchi has now signed a bike sponsorship deal with the Belkin pro team. It looks like the green kit might have a splash of celeste next year.
Of course when the title sponsor is a bike company there won't be any change. BMC, Lampre-Merida, Cannondale, and Trek (taking over ownership of Team RadioShack-Leopard in 2014) are riding their respective bikes.
In 2014 Specialized continues to sponsor Team Astana and Omega Pharma-Quick Step. I'm not sure what's going on with the Saxo-Tinkoff Bank team. If you've been paying attention to the train wreck that is the Oleg Tinkoff's Twitter account, he's been quite vocal of his displeasure with team rider Alberto Contador. It turns out Oleg is more of a mean drunk than a happy one.
By the end of July Riis issued a press release stating, “During the course of our extensive negotiations with Tinkoff Bank, it has become clear that we are unable to settle on common views and the ideas that are necessary for our partnership to grow and be successful for both parties beyond 2013.” In my opinion that's a nice way of saying, “We couldn't negotiate with a guy on a vodka soaked bender.”
Perhaps Specialized comes in as a co-title sponsor for Riis?
Next year Trek is gambling on Fabian Cancellara winning the Classics, because if this year is any example Pinarello might as well add Tour de France yellow as a permanent color for the Pinarello Dogma bike.
If Fabs dominates the early part of the 2014 season, Trek is going to sell a lot of Trek Domanes. In the battle for the Spring classics campaign Specialized might see the value of having their name added front and center to a team's official name. Maybe Saxo Bank – Specialized or Omega Pharma – QuickStep p/b Specialized? I know my journalist/PR friends would love that wordy combination. I also suspect the