Quik Step-Innergetic must be laughing all the way to the bank. They’ve got the world champion on their squad for another year, and all they have to do is put Tom Boonen’s kit and bike in an industrial strength drier for a few hours so it will shrink to fit wee Paolo Bettini.

And not being satisfied merely using Boonen’s hand-me-downs last week in the Championship of Zurich, Bettini integrated some leftover Paola Pezzo gold lame shorts into the kit a few days later for the Giro dell’Emilia. Leave it to the Italians to bust out the exotic threads.

The Olympics are truly a new frontier for professional cyclists. It’s only been since 1996 that professionals were allowed to compete in the Games, with Switzerland’s Pascal Richard emerging victorious in the inaugural pro/am Olympic road race in Atlanta. Realizing that this would likely be the last, great race he’d ever win, and having no precedent to follow, Richard invented his own Olympic kit, complete with a pretty tame set of gold shades to boot. And don’t forget those world champion bands to commemorate his 1988 world cyclocross championship:

A garish Pascal Richard in 1998 (note to Pascal - Casino kit and Olympic rings are a hard visual combo to digest)

A tamer Pascal Richard in 1999

I think the IOC then became aware of Richard’s copyright infringement and shut down his self-styled Olympic tribute, leaving future road cycling Olympic champions at a loss to commemorate Olympic glory. Because it there’s one entity on the planet more freakishly protective of its intellectual property than Disney, it’s the Olympics. Hence, Bettini’s use of gold and gold lame instead of concentric rings to honor his Olympic victory. Curiously, it doesn’t appear from a cursory review of photographs between 2001-2004 that Jan Ullrich ever took liberties with his kit to reflect his Olympic glory, preferring sartorial Telekom pink and when appropriate, his German national championship jersey.

Comments (1) to “Mini-Me”

  1. Tmobile quotes after 2000 Olympic Road Race:
    Jan - “I want cool Italian Gold Kits!”
    Walter G - “NO!”
    Jan - “Why Not!”
    Walter G “Not in the budget!”
    Jan - “whywhywhywhywhywhy!”
    Walter G - “Because we owe Kloden a Gold Rolex and Vino a Gold Porche!”

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