It's not about the bike - Or is it?
Just when you thought the Mark Cavendish transfer rumors were all said and done, another possibility has been added.
As I mentioned last week, the road season is nearly over. However, that doesn't mean that the action and rumors have stopped. The one transfer story that doesn't die is the Mark Cavendish drama. For weeks everyone has been stating as virtual fact that the Manx man was headed to Sky. Now, out of left field a report from Gazet van Antwerpen states that he could be headed to Omega Pharma-Quick Step? For those keeping track, the Belgian squad has scooped up some talented riders from HTC including German Tony Martin. There is only one problem to that story - the team has already reached its rider cap of 30. Or have they?
It was just announced that thirty-four year old Dutch rider Addy Engels contract wasn't renewed with Omega Pharma for 2012, so it looks like perhaps there is room for one more rider on the squad. But that's not the end of it. The excellent blog "inrng" pointed out that Specialized issued a press release on the company's web site and then removed it stating that the California bike company was in fact sponsoring the Belgian team in 2012. Cast your mind back to the days when Tom Boonen was actually winning races in a consistent manner - that was with Specialized. I'm not saying Boonen's banner 2007 season was due to riding a Specialized bike - but with Contador possibly benched for a doping violation the Morgan Hill boys want a big time rider winning races that gets front page coverage. Does Specialized have the power/cash to bump out Ridley bikes and Lazer helmets, both of whom had been announced to be suppliers to the squad in 2012?
Yes. As you are probably well aware, Specialized not only manufactures racing bikes but a complete line of models for the consumer - children's bikes, mountain, townie and of course road. In addition they have robust soft goods and hard goods lines. When people use the phrase, "The Big Three" in the cycling industry there's a reason Specialized is part of that holy bike trinity (Trek and Giant being the Son and the Holy Spirit).
Now there's rumor that Cav wants to bring his Specialized bikes with him next season. If that's true, Sky has a deal with Pinarello which makes it kinda awkward to bring Specialized into the squad. Back in the day, professional riders could get their preferred bike painted to match the team's issued machine and no one would be the wiser (News flash - the 7-Eleven cycling team wasn't racing on Huffys but actually Serottas). That isn't the case anymore. Each bike company puts their unique design into the construction of their frame. From the I-beam look of the BMC to the curvy lines of the Pinarello Dogma, there is no way to just re-paint and re-badge your favorite rig and pass it off as team issue.
Now to fuel even more speculation current Sky rider Bradley Wiggins tweeted that he bought his Pinarello. Why would he do that? As one of their star riders he receives