In the early 1990s when I joined the cycling scene, the preeminence of Italian design had already begun waning. The mountainbike boom of the 1980s brought a fresh, American perspective to function that contrasted the traditional European aesthetics. The advent of indexed shifting, which favoured integrated component groups, made Shimano the dominant drivetrain maker on the planet. Major brands in the larger markets had moved production of their bread-and-butter framesets to Asia, extending out the supply lines for OEM component manufacturers based in Italy. Unable to tap into the OEM market and slow to adapt to new trends, many smaller Italian companies quietly disappeared. By the time I woke to the scene, there were only three names, all Italian, associated with premium handlebars and stems: Cinelli, 3TTT, and Italmanubri (ITM). And actually, the first two belonged to the same parent company, the Columbo Group, which also owned Columbus tubing. This last point is pertinent when you look for the origins of Deda Elementi.
Before aluminium construction had fully taken hold, Columbus was supplying virtually all of the steel bicycle tubing for Italian-made framesets as well as a large portion of quality bikes worldwide. Then a new company formed in 1992, and it contained certain former members of the Columbo Group. That company was called Dedacciai (“acciai” is the plural form of acciaio, Italian for “steel”). Dedacciai made some good scores, supplying big producers like Bianchi and then readily exploited the aluminium trend in the high-end frame market too. And they introduced their own line cockpit components: Deda Elementi. Deda Elementi’s handlebars and stems had clean, purposeful lines. The company responded timely to newer trends like threadless stems and oversize handlebars. They quite literally put their wares in the hands of the top professional riders of the era. Less obviously, a lot of their product was made in Asia, close to the manufacturing and assembly plants of the biggest global bike brands. Holding the lusty eye of the aftermarket consumer and a generous slice of the OEM market, Deda Elementi found resounding success. Meanwhile Italmanubri was in a market death spiral, going bankrupt in the 2000s. The company once known as Tecno Tubo Turino, 3TTT, had long been the shabby step-sister to Cinelli. Suffering from inept marketing and anemic product development, the brand foundered and was eventually sold off. And Cinelli, once de rigueur for any respectable high performance road bike, was quickly losing relevance to racing.
Photo: Esquire UK
Froome has been trending for about 14 hours with Esquire publishing his back story, defiance of haters, and his performance test results. Those that believe and totally don’t are further entrenched, and he’s as unlikeable a Tour leader as ever, with his just trust-me marketing campaign. Well, of course we don’t and shouldn’t; especially, the media that was too scared of Lance to share what they knew or suspected during his 7 wins.
As Ross Tucker writes, what’s missing from this “big reveal,” is how Froome went from good to a Tour-dominating great. The years where he shed 15 pounds and transformed from a rouleur into a skeletal, Gollum seeking his precious, the yellow jersey, on mountain stages.
Same power, similar VO2, lower mass, predictions confirmed.
In our Tour issue from earlier this year, Nathan Wright wrote about how we’ve seen this script before, and using a music analogy said, “We Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
I witnessed Richie Porte smile as he upped the pace and Contador and Nibali popped off the back. I watched as Chris Froome accelerated 7 kilometers from the finish and gained time all the way to the line. He did it with the fast cadence and apparent ease not seen since in the Tour since 2005. I saw Richie Porte reel in Nario Quintana, one of the best climbers in the peloton, and drop him within sight of the line. I remained glued to the screen in disbelief as Sky’s Classics rider Geraint Thomas finished 6th on the stage.
All of these performances mirror those of Armstrong, Robert Heras, George Hincapie and other known drug cheats that rode in service of Armstrong on US Postal Service squad. Stage 10 was almost a carbon copy of Lance Armstrong and Roberto Heras’ mugging of Joseba Beloki on the climb to Plateau de Beille in stage 12 of the 2002 Tour de France.
No, we won’t get fooled. Ultimately what the Froome camp did achieve with Esquire was keep him in the news cycle, blowing a kiss to his fans, while throwing his haters a bone, and saying, “The secret is, there is no secret.”
Sure and while we’re sharing secrets, it was a brilliant PR play, and remember the image makers that made Lance, didn’t leave the sport when he was exiled, they just moved to the next team.
The Tour never trends this time of year. Now let’s get back to debating road disc.
See Froome riding away from his rivals.
As the intro to the CX edit from Handup Gloves says,
Crack a cold one and check out this highlight of the good times at the 2015 Turkey Cross and the Privateer CX race in Tennessee. Great to see so many people out there racing and having a good time. Here’s to growing CX in the Southeast!