For anyone who thought the withdrawal of Liquigas as title sponsor of their vaunted ProTour team would be the death knell of the team as a whole, you were wrong. What few assuredly could foresee as the eventual outcome, Cannondale itself (and their parent company Dorel) stepped in to fill the financial void (which most observers guessed would be in the neighborhood of a 12 million dollar-plus expense). Weclome Cannondale Pro Cycling Team.
And, if last weekend’s gala team presentation in Hollywood is any indication, Cannondale is willing to thrown down the duckets to let the world know that they intended to remain a force in the Pro racing scene. True, the team may be lacking the superstar line-up that grace the rider rosters of teams like Sky and Omega Pharma, but the 28 rider squad is still thick with talent and remain determined to prove that they are in it to win it!
Meet Bob Burbank, the head honcho (aka “El Queso Grande”) of Cannondale. Bob quickly made a name for himself when soon after he arrived on the job he donned a chicken suit at the 2011 Tour of California to run alongside the team riders climbing the Mt. Baldy climb. Now two years on, it was refreshing to hear him remind the assembled crowd of his intentions to continue “making cycling fun.”
Harking back to Cannondale’s ground-breaking ad campaign (in 1997) that featured Mario Cipollini and his Saeco teammates dressed to the nines, members of the 2013 Cannondale Pro Cycling team looked resplendent in their formal attire. Of the 28 rider strong contingent team, only half the riders were in attendance at the presentation.
Peter Sagan. Hero to many and superstar in the making, couldn’t resist flexing some muscle in front of the adoring crowd.
Trust me on this, Cannondale went big on the expense and preparation for the weekend event.
Adding a special kick to the opening ceremonies was the presence of America’s favorite TV personality, former 7-Eleven team rider and RBA columnist, Bob “Bobke” Roll. Even without a current GC contender on the roster, Bobke was impressed with the vibe of the new team and thought that even after shedding (their previous high dollar GC contender) Vincenzo Nibali (to Astana) that the current Cannondale lineup was still one to make a dent in the coming season.
The one for all, and all for one moment came when the riders and sponsors gathered at the Westlake Village Inn for team photo shoots and butting heads with the media.
With the festivities behind, the team headed to the beautiful and seasonably (but still unbelievably) chilly, roads of the Santa Monica mountains to get some riding time in. Veteran team member Ivan Basso is able to put all of his Grand Tour success to good use as fulfills his role of team captain and mentor to the younger riders. “It is important for me to feel younger and I don’t feel old with these guys. I am not a grandfather yet!”
Peter Sagan just plain rules and his bike handling skills have now become the stuff of legend. When asked if he was concerned about Sagan’s safety with all of his antics, Ivan Basso was quick to say “Not at all. He is a fantastic rider and I think it is only dangerous for the riders who might want to copy him.”
FSA Cycling is the team sponsor for handlebars, cranks, and stems.
Vision Wheels began life as a triathlete specific wheel brand in 1995 that has since become a force on the road with their sponsorship of 22 different teams worldwide. Though not on display, they were showing of a range of new lightweight Metron carbon wheels with a 24mm tire bed that will be available later this year. Vision has two assembly plants with all the team wheels coming out of a smaller factory in Firenze, Italy (the other is in Asia) that specializes in smaller production runs with a capacity to also build custom wheels.
Although Osmo Nutrition is not a team sponsor of the road team, they are an official sponsor of the Cannondale Sho-Air mountain bike team. Besides new packaging, the year old brand also now offers individual servings of their all natural powder drink mixes.
Go Pro cameras were everywhere as the team was still in the process of gathering creative content for the coming season.
Despite the what the calendar read, the California cold snap still took everyone by surprise.
When the group rode past the fabled Rock Store on Mulholland Drive, the assembled throttle twisters let out a cheer which inspired Peter Sagan (who else?) to offer up a sweet one handed wheelie in response.
Meet new team member, Nariyuki Masuda. His hometown of Sendai, Japan was one of many that was wiped out by the 2012 tsunami and earthquake. After finishing second in the 2012 Japanese National Championships, the 29 year old Nariyuki got the call up from Cannondale and is deeply excited about being on the team. However, more important to him still is that his hard work will be seen and appreciated by his fellow Sendai residents. “Every race will be my first race. This team is my new family and I just want to work for them. For every day my town is always in my heart. I know there are still countless people there who are having a hard time and my hope is that by racing passionately I can give them encouragement.”
By Monday morning a selection of riders were already on their way to Argentina to compete in the Tour of San Luis. On another continent, there was also a squad headed to the Tour Down Under in Australia.
Stay tuned for your opportunity to win a full Cannondale Pro Cycling team kit in another RBA schwag give-away contest.