Martin Ayres from the ‘Cycling Weekly’ magazine once wrote about the time that he was at an 80’s European pro team presentation; as the journos chatted to the riders, chickens from the nearby farmyard wandered in to feast on the crumbs left from the buffet. Heads would roll at the five star Hotel M. A. Nazaries if that happened, you don’t get them stars with chickens in the lobby!
Pictures, Lots of Pictures
There were two shoots, one with the riders in leisure gear and one with them in their new Castelli team strip, Prodir are no longer a sponsor and it’s bike supplier Scott who have the second name on the jersey now, it’s still bright yellow though, love it or hate it, it gets noticed and that’s the object of the exercise.
Mauro and Matxin, in suits and gold ties, marshalled their troops and coached them in the art of having their picture taken; ‘Ricco, sit up straight man!’
After a wheen (Scottish, means large number) of outdoor pics, there were pics at the hotel entrance, pics in the hotel foyer and individual pics on the hotel patio, if those chickens had been here, they would have been photographed too.
Saunier Duval head honcho, elegant, silver-haired Carlos Doria hovered all the while, looking like an older Armani male models and making sure his company’s money was being properly spent.
An Appalling Sight For Ed
The foyer pics had Piepoli, Marchante, Ricco and Cobo draped over sofas wearing ‘Medilast’ (one of the team’s smaller sponsors) socks, these are knee-length surgical stockings, the kind you wear on a plane to prevent deep vein thromboses; the theory is that they aid recovery after training.
Having grown-up in the 70’s, when the ultimate in cool socks were the just-above-the-ankle white ‘six day’ sock as worn by Merckx and de Vlaeminck, I could only manage one photo of the guys wearing these before I needed fresh air.
Let’s Get On With The Presentation!
The ‘presentation proper’ in the hotel conference centre was due to take place at 6.00, but this is Spain and it started – eventually.
Last year, at Estepona the star riders arrived by canoe across the hotel swimming pool so I wondered how they would arrive this year – abseil, perhaps?
The sound of flamenco filled the air as the big screen flashed images of Saunier riders winning in 2007, then there was a film about the team’s tree-planting initiative in Mali, it’s a story in its own right and you can find all the details on www.recyclingtheworld.org as the film faded the riders simply walked on stage.
The Riders On Stage
The speaker was very professional; a little spiel about each rider as they got an individual spotlight, with the stars getting a mini-interview on stage, Ricco didn’t get asked to say much – his Spanish isn’t great; but Piepoli was eloquent – of course!
The guy I would want to go to the disco with is new-signing, Eros Cappechi, he’s so good looking it makes you sick; if there was hassle to sort-out, Juanjo Cobo is your man, built like a brick outhouse.
There’s a Belgian a long way from home on the squad, Denis Flahaut – that chunky frame may be OK for Flanders, but he’ll need to lose some kilos for hilly Iberia.
Then it was the turn of the officials; DS Matxin is a man who can chat for six hours straight in a team car, so 20 seconds is almost an insult to him.
The Equipment Takes Center Stage
The new bike was unveiled next; on a turntable and sparkling like cut crystal under the lights.
Pascal Ducrot from Scott was next-up; his dress and persona reflect the ‘new’ European businesses – informal, innovative, young and with English as the international language.
He delivered his presentation in English and the ‘speaker’ translated, there was some good stuff in there; this is Scott’s 50th anniversary; they introduced the aluminium ski pole; in 1989 they started to build aluminium bikes and were innovators of the tri-bar – yearly bike sales are now 350,000 units, interesting, impressive stats. [Stay tuned to PEZ for our upcoming Addict test.]
The riders were fidgeting a bit, but Piepoli stood straight and still listened to every word, a real pro.
Wrapping Up The Speeches
Mauro hopped on to the stage in one bound, no time to waste; he spoke without notes and from the heart.
Senor Doria sitting next to Pascal Ducrot.
Next was Senor Doria, no radio mic for him, he stood at the lectern in his impeccably tailored suit and tie, delivering a long speech in Spanish, ‘old school’ and dignified.
The presentation ended with more footage on the big screen of the team in action, last year’s presentation at Estepona and the Mali tree-planting initiative
There were savouries, sweet meats, champers, wine, beer and free trees – I had to ‘pass’ on my foliage, I can just see the Customs guys escorting me into a little room at Malaga Airport with a tree under my arm.
I collared Denis Flahaut for a chat, he has no English, I have bad French, he was a Flanders man, we both miss Frans Assez and he doesn’t like the Spanish hills – figures!
The food and drink disappeared and it became like a scene from Macbeth as all those trees headed for the door.
The riders quietly drifted-away – the team is launched; in a week or two there’ll be no power-point presentations, speeches or schmoozing, just blood, sweat and tears on the hard roads of Europe.
• Still to come – more interviews and reports fro the Saunier Duval-Scott training camp.
• SaunierDuvalTeam.com website.
• SCOTTUSA website.