The braintrust at Specialized Bikes is on a tear.
After cracking into the pro peloton a few years ago, the U.S. company’s strategy to play in Europe alongside the well-known brands such as Pinarello, Colnago and Time is paying dividends.
This year already in the win column (a sampling; not full list):
- Tour of California Prologue (Fabian Cancellara of Saxo Bank on a Transition)
- Tour of California Stage 8 (Frank Schleck of Saxo Bank on a Tarmac SL2)
- Tour of Flanders (Sven Devolder of Quick Step on a Tarmac SL2)
- Paris-Roubaix (Tom Boonen of Quick Step on a Roubaix SL2)
- Liege-Bastone-Liege (Andy Schleck of Saxo Bank on a Tarmac SL2)
The Specialized brand has become synonomous with winnning big (even if Boonen’s rig has a shorter head tube and is beefier than the standard 11r carbon found on factory stock Tarmac SL2’s in your local bike shop).
Kudos to the folks in Morgan Hill, CA who dared to compete with the Italian and French brands that have long dominated Europe. Not only are they doing it with bikes, they are making inroads there in helmets, shoes, and other accessories. It’s amazing, really, when you consider cycling is among the top three spectator sports in Europe. In the U.S., it barely gets on the radar.
It won’t be long before Trek, the other big American bike brand, turns up the heat. The Grand Tours are when Trek comes out to play. Levi Leipheimer already won the overall at the Tour of California on a Trek Madone, and a famous guy named Lance will be aboard a Madone during the Giro d’ Italia in May.
Cycling, much like golf, is an aspirational activity for non-pros and neo-enthusiasts. We can ride the same roads. We can imagine what it’s like to be in the break. We can (sometimes) hit it 300 yards via equipment that helps power the pros to victory.
Aspiration is why every weekend in Southern California, you can find riders on $8,000 rides and duffers with $2,000 worth of clubs in their bags.
They are living the dream without the big-name endorsements, podium girls, or adoring galleries.