Hm, how to put the Tour of California to bed? Not much to say about who was the best team/rider/etc. that isn't painfully obvious. Little to read into the upcoming season besides maybe a little pessimism toward Floyd Landis' comeback. Levi's win was a carbon copy. I guess that leaves sniping at the kit fashions...
Admittedly, my original fashion poll was based on mockups and TV views, so it should come as no surprise that my opinions have changed a bit since I got to see these guys close up. Things look different in person, particularly on a sunny day. I'll keep it brief. And starting tomorrow, it's all Cobbles!
Allons-y a la flip!
For the full effect, see, e.g., Lyne's prologue gallery.
1. AG2R ↑
Win by default? There's little to add -- it's just an all-around pleasant look.
2. Cervélo ↑
The é has become the sec\o/nd-m\o/st ubiquit\o/us, cool new tag in cycling, and the all-blacks look damn sharp, even a tad threatening, as a unit. Extra points for standing out. But check back when the temps hit 80 degrees; they will need all 175 vents in those goofy helmets.
3. Astana ↑
Easily the biggest upset in the poll. The colors simply aren't as awful in broad daylight as they are in a mock-up, and once you decide the colors are OK, the overall design looks pretty stylish. Still, as soon as they head into dull light, e.g. on the podium, they start looking like pajamas again. But racing is done outdoors, often in spring/summer sun, so fashion disaster averted.
4. Garmin ↔
I am still not totally sold, but the colors are quite good and different. They also make for distinctive road chalking options.
5. Fly V Australia ↓
OK, I admit, they were overrated. I brushed past Ben Day in Solvang, and the little stars-'n-stripes ring on the sleeve does make the effect what I'd said: deeply subtle with nice little accents. But it's a short walk from there to "boring."
6. Saxo Bank ↑
The dropoff begins. Nothing to complain about here, as I said before.
7. Columbia ↓
If I don't mark them down, Crashdan might never speak to me again. They are noticeable, I'll grant them that.
8. Quick Step ↑
Sort of like the Yankee pinstripes... hard to get excited about from a distance, but from up close they emit more of a "classic" vibe. Clean, tasteful, and occasionally known to contain Tom Boonen... all pluses.
9. Bissell ↓
More backpedaling here. I like the colors, but might hate the carbon braiding pattern... maybe. Can't decide.
10. Team Type 1 ↑
In the low light of a winter sun, they are crisp and pleasant enough.
11. Jelly Belly ↓
Goofy, though in a state where you can get chased by people dressed as sumotori, Borat, antlerguys, unstable bumble blobs with giant syringes, etc., who's to say what is or isn't goofy?
12. Liquigas ↑
I'm trying not to get carried away here, but seeing Vincenzo Nibali and Ivan Basso up close caused another starstruck-induced revision of their kit rating. I'm not ready to see this look disappear yet.
13. Rock Racing ↓
Let me guess, the same person who picked out the profanity-laced speed metal blaring from the team bus through the innocent Solvang crowds also designed this busy mess of pretentious graffiti? Huge step down from last year. Hell, I look better in their 2008 kit than Tyler does in the new one.
14. Colavita ↓
Hm, something about this kit in person reminded me of my great grandmother's house. And "19th century immigrant chic" just hasn't caught fire yet.
15. Ouch ↔
Not literally painful to see, but the color scheme won't stop sucking, up close or at a distance.
16. BMC ↔
Five percent less awful in person, but my new club kit is way better than theirs.
17. Rabobank ↔
Why does Erik Breukink love ocular cancer?