Those Bike Team Names – 2010 Version – Part I

Hey, the Tour de France is just around the corner! It starts Sunday Saturday. Each year, I like to introduce Bike Noob readers to the teams in the Tour, because their European corporate sponsor names are probably unfamiliar to most Americans. This year is interesting, because of several new teams in the Tour, and four U.S.-based teams. Lance Armstrong rides in his last Tour, and just might contend.

Twenty-two teams are riding this year. Today, we’ll profile half of them, by alphabetical order. The remaining teams will go up Thursday.

AG2R-La Mondiale: France. Ag2r Group is a French-based interprofessional insurance and supplementary retirement fund group, and the La Mondiale Group is a French-based international group for supplementary pension and estate planning insurance. Rinaldo Nocentini led last year’s Tour for eight days.

Top riders: Dimitri Champion, Nocentini, Nicolas Roche.

Bike: Kuota

Astana: Kazakhstan. Sponsored by the Astana group, a coalition of state-owned companies from Kazakhstan and named after its capital city Astana. Last year, the team had trouble making its payroll, until the Kazakh government stepped in. The Tour’s defending champion, Alberto Contador, rides for Astana, but half last year’s team bolted for the new Radio Shack squad.

Top riders: Contador, Alexander Vinokourov.

Bike: Specialized

Bbox Bouyges Telecom: France. Bouygues is a mobile telephone company. Bbox is the bundled Internet, TV, and telephone package offered to Bouygues customers. Last year, Thomas Voeckler and Pierrick Fédrigo won stages of the Tour.

Top riders: Voeckler, Fédrigo, Pierre Rolland.

Bike: Colnago

BMC Racing Team: USA. BMC is a Swiss bike company. The team is brand new, having competed in some domestic races last year, but won a wild card berth to the TdF this year. They’ve made their presence known in some of the earlier races this season, and have a strong stable of riders.

Top riders: US Champion George Hincapie, Alessandro Ballan, World Champion Cadel Evans.

Bike: BMC

Caisse d’Epargne: Spain. The team is registered to Spain, but the sponsor is the fourth-largest French banking company. Their top rider, Alejandro Valverde, is suspended for ties to doping. Still, Caisse is always one of the strongest teams in the Tour.

Top riders: Luis Leon Sanchez, Juan Mauricio Soler, Juan Jose Cobo.

Bike: Pinarello.

Cervelo Test Team: Switzerland. Cervelo is the Canadian bike company. The team made quite an impact last year, when it debuted in the tour.

Top riders: Carlos Sastre (2008 TdF winner), Thor Hushovd.

Bike: Cervelo

Cofidis: France. Consumer Credit. Le Credit En Ligne (online). Offers customized consumer loans either by phone or over the Internet. The company had planned this to be its last year, but now will be around through 2012. They are probably the weakest of the French teams.

Top riders: David Moncoutie, Samuel Dumoulin, Amaël Moinard.

Bike: Look.

Euskaltel-Euskadi: Basque. Basque telephone company. Euskadi is the Basque word for Basque. The Basque Country is an autonomous region in the north of Spain. Basques are ethnically different from Spaniards, and there’s been some separation sentiment for years. Euskaltel is the unofficial national team of the Basques. The team is known for its strong mountain riding. Team leader Mikel Astarloza is under a two-year doping suspension.

Top riders: Samuel Sanchez, Amets Txurruka, Egoi Martinez.

Bike: Orbea.

Footon-Servetto: Spain. Footon makes insoles to correct bad posture.  Servetto is an Italian wardrobe company. The team was formerly Saunier-Duval, which got caught up in a doping scandal. They claim the jersey is gold – most observers regard it as nude.

Top riders: Martin Pedersen, Michele Merlo and Manuel Cardoso.

Bike: Fuji

Francaise de Jeux: France. The French national lottery. This team has been around since 1997. The team had a good year in 2009, but couldn’t win the big one, and are under some pressure to win their own country’s big race.

Top riders: Christophe Le Mevel, Sandy Casar, Thibault Pinot.

Bike: Lapierre.

Garmin-Transitions: USA. Garmin is the top maker of GPS gear, Transitions makes eyeglasses that shade with the sun. The team won 29 races last year.

Top riders: Tyler Farrar, Christian VandeVelde, Robbie Hunter.

Bike: Felt

24-Hour Ride Update

You may recall that last month, I blogged about Bike Noob reader Tommy Foster and his plan to circle his local high school track for 24 hours to raise money for the Livestrong Foundation. He did it this past weekend.

Tommy posted a short item on his ride, with some videos, on his own blog.

Next on the agenda for Tommy is a raffle featuring a three-bike rack. If you’re interested, you can take a look.

Congratulations to Tommy for finishing something that I would never even consider as possible.

Bikeable Roads

For the past few days, we have been on the road (in the car) to attend a reunion of sorts in Illinois. Maybe because I have not been on the bike, I’ve been noticing roads in the areas we’ve passed through, with an eye to their bikeability. And I’ve gotta say, there are some areas out there where bikers have it rough.

The thing that makes for rough biking is a lack of shoulders on roads.  Most of the roads we took were two lane, heavily trafficked, with no shoulder. I wouldn’t take a bike on them on a bet. The roads were hilly and curvy, which would have made for great riding in other circumstances. But on these roads,  cars and trucks moved at more than 55 mph, leaving little chance to react if they should suddenly come upon a bicycle.

As if to add support for this notion of unbikability, I saw only two cyclists in five days. They were a bike touring couple, loaded with panniers, slogging up a hill on a U.S. highway that did have a generous shoulder.

The areas I paid most attention to are in northwestern Arkansas and southern Illinois. Maybe there are cycling groups there, and I hope if that’s they case, they check in with some good routes in those locales.

How about where you are? Is there an overabundance of roads that are designed for motor traffic only, with no consideration of cyclists? I’ve got a few gripes about my home, Austin, Texas, but on the whole, I’ve got plenty of alternatives for riding. The places I’ve been on during this short vacation — not so much.