Brugge, Belgium: Jonathan Vaughters announced today that his Slipstream-Cervelo team was going against its sponsorship and will race Sunday's Tour of Flanders on vintage Alex Singer "constructeur" bicycles.
"I came across a copy of Bicycle Quarterly and almost immediately realized this is what would give us that critical advantage on the bergs of Flanders", Vaughters said during a brief press conference. "All these years riders have struggled to overcome the cruelties of these steep, cobbled climbs, and until now it never occurred to us that maybe, just maybe the cobbles didn't need to be so cruel. It turns out for all the research and development done by us and our sponsors, the answer was worked out more than a half-century ago. If only we'd looked behind instead of forward, we'd have seen it."
Thor Hoshovd's 2004 Singer
Unfortunately due to the long lead times for Singer bicycles, Vaughters and company had to look at existing stock to get them to the starting line of this year's spring classics. "Luckily there's a close to seven decade history of Singers, so by scouring Craigslist we were able to supply the team." Each of the team's eight starters will be on one of the classic rigs, with no spares. "These bikes were built to last, to provide decades of service under any condition. One bike per rider is plenty."
"Flanders, and to an ever greater extent, Roubaix, is an exercise in chaos. Team cars fight for position to service riders. Riders take insane risks to be in position for the feed zone. With these bikes, none of this is necessary. With front racks and custom Garmin-Cervelo bags we're having hand-sewn by Chrome, riders can carry everything they need for the day from the start line. And with 42mm 650B tires, flats are extremely unlikely. As a result the team cars can take the Autostrada directly to Aankornst (the finish). On the road we'll need only a motor scooter for communications."
But what about the sprint? Surely the woefully inadequate (by 2011 standards) bottom brackets on the narrow-gauge steel Singer frames would collapse under Thor and Tyler's enormous power.
"The Singers plane well", Vaughters replied.
Vaughters then revealed the new jersey the team was going to premier at the race: a wool Garman-logo'ed jersey with plain black, wool shorts.
"Obviously, riding these bikes with synthetic fabrics would be, well, just wrong. Plus, we wanted to take advantage of wool's superior thermoregulation."
Liquigas riders suffering on the Koppenberg due to stiff carbon frames with skinny tires (CyclingNews)
Wow -- I'm changing my pick for Sunday's race right now. Cancellara? Boonen? Sagan? Fuggetaboutit. All of the road vibration dissipated in their muscles through their stiff frames and skinny tires will render them useless to the Garmin Cervelo attack at the end of 270 km of the worst roads Belgium can deliver.