While I’ve made occasional reference to the concept of “pro”-ness on this blog, that fact is that it’s never been something of special concern to me.
I have neither the income to assemble my own housing-level pro build, nor the free time to aggregate links directing my readers to the same. But recent events have got me wondering if being too pro can be detrimental, if not to one’s riding, then certainly to one’s image.
Case in point: Alberto Contador. It’s tough to argue that he’s anything but the best stage racer in the world right now. But (and I’m probably the last person to get around to mentioning this) the “fingerbang” branded equipment and apparel is starting to weird people out. According to the link, it’s so pro that no one’s selling it—though I’d imagine most riders would think twice before throwing their leg over that saddle.
Now let’s look at Oscar Freire. While he takes flack for his “here-today-gone-tomorrow” track record, I think three Worlds and three Sanremos speak for themselves. And how does Oscarito roll? With a minipump attached with duct tape, making his own adjustments to his infuriating cut-to-fit seatpost, and wearing a stock helmet with his initials Sharpied onto it.
Despite getting into the race-making selection at 40km to go, Boonen found himself bested by Danish champ Matti Breschel in his split-kit—which, depending on who you ask, is either totally bush league, or the epitome of retro-cool (the mostly-black shorts help).
And I don’t want to say anything against Vacansoleil, since they’ve both animated and delivered (another podium today) throughout this classics this season, but those kits, while not completely ugly, aren’t exactly pro—further evidence of a correlation.
So what’s the take-away from all this? Hedge your bets on Condator, and put the big money on Footon at the Grio.