Boonen, Bettini Beat Davis, Zabel; New Shimano, SRAM

Mar 9 2006

Call it the Erik Zabel Kiss of Death. Allan Davis took second at Paris-Nice for the third time in four stages, once again to reigning World Champ Tom Boonen. Davis has racked up more than his fair share of minor placings over the past two seasons, and I attribute it to this interview, in which Erik Zabel, perhaps the most second-placingest rider in the history of the sport, says he’d love to help Davis become “one of the best sprinters” in the peloton. The ageless Zabel found himself a bridesmaid again at Tirreno-Adriatico today, as Boonen’s teammate Paolo Bettini took his second straight stage. I can only imagine that Patrick LeFevere is hoping one of them gets grazed by a bus in the next two weeks (not closely enough to cause serious injury, of course) so he doesn’t have to watch his Quick.Step team tear itself apart trying to serve two leaders during Milan-San Remo. I mean, he can’t even use margin of victory as a tie-breaker between the two; they both had ample time to celebrate during today’s wins.

Fortunately, most, if not all of you reading this, are not directeurs sportifs, and thus can enjoy the real news of today, which swirls around a series of spy photos that appeared on Cyclingnews. It seems that Shimano is now refining an electronic Dura-Ace group. Far be it for me to disparage technological progress, but this seems absolutely pointless. Haven’t we been down this heavy, weather-susceptible, and most of all fugly road before? I mean, check out this brake lever? What’s that modeled after? Queen Nefertiti’s headpiece? C’mon, Mavic proved this was a bad idea years ago, Campy’s been working on electronic gruppos forever and still hasn’t come out with a product, why would Shimano go and kick over this rotten log after so many years? Honestly, I’d rather see the Big S come out with production models like this than a gimmicky, expensive electro-group. If only the same snoopy photographer, who grabbed those Shimano shots from Paris-Nice, had been on hand at CSC’s Solvang camp to get some close-ups of this SRAM Force equipped Cervelo.

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