Valentine's weekend brought the TCR show 2010 to Sandown Racecourse in Surrey, perhaps not the most romantic way to spend your weekend but there were lots of good looking bikes, enlightening seminars and far too many ways to max out your credit card.
Lots caught my eye at the TCR show, the most obvious being that Shimano’s Di2 range-topping group set was on most top end tri/aero bikes from the likes of Blue, Red Bull, Felt and Cervelo.
The smart bar end shifting units allow the rider to change gear without pulling any levers which allows the rider to stay in exactly the right position. 2008 and 2009 Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander used a combination of di2 bar end shift and aero brake shift technology to help him to his win and this advance is starting to find its home on top end TT bikes, by top end I mean £6k+ (the Red Bull (more below) being the cheapest I saw at around £6400 with the bar end shifters)
Other brands making a splash were Ekoi with their range of helmets (aero and road). Ekoi have developed a reputation for cutting edge design with a healthy dash of flair since their inception. Protour team Agritubel wore ekoi kit in 2009 and Britain’s Jodie Swallow wore an Ekoi helmet en-route to her 1st place finish at the ITU Long Distance triathlon word Champs in Australia late last year. Ekoi offers sunglasses and other cycling accessories to accompany its helmet range.
Multisport Distribution are the UK contact for Ekoi who also bring in Blue Bikes. Blue had their stable of aero bikes on show, all of which are fantastic to look at (they also do a range of cyclocross, mountain and road bikes). The top end Blue Triad SL will seriously lighten your wallet but you do get Dura Ace 7900 or Sram Red, Zipp 808/1080 combo and a superb frame. Only £1800 for the di2 upgrade kit then!
Elite Ironman triathlete Andreas Raelert rides a Blue Triad SL and his race bike was on show at TCR complete with di2 kit, it certainly drew a crowd. There are more down to earth bikes from Blue, such as the Triad SP which has the same basic frame (albeit with a different grade of carbon) and comes supplied with SRAM Rival running gear. This strikes me as the normal ‘entry level’ tri pack bike offering, a very nice frame covered with parts that you will want to upgrade fairly briskly.
Nutrition was another big deal at TCR 2010 with stands from all manner of companies such as Science in Sport, Zipvit, Powerbar and Cytomax (who had the lovely Chrissie Wellington tirelessly signing autographs and posing for photos). Science in Sport launched their ‘Build Bar’ protein bar and showed off their newly re-designed packaging. Developed with the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, the Build Bar is aimed at ‘power athletes and sports people’ (are they different?). My one gripe, having not tried these bars, is that many nutrition companies love making nutty protein bars, I am allergic to nuts so I miss out on trying them. If Science in Sport want to send down some alternatively flavoured, possible chocolate, Build Bars I would be very happy! The non-nut afflicted members of the road.cc team now have a box of them so expect a test in the near future.
Zipvit had a large stand featuring a Ferrari Enzo, while their products may not make you quite as nippy through the corners as the Italian supercar it and the chance to win a Cervelo P4 certainly pulled in the punters. The blueberry/banana and energy bars were up to taste as were their drinks – pretty much all you can comment on about any sports nutrition when not using it in anger.
Cytomax had the aforementioned Chrissie Wellington doing the honours at their stand and this caused a queue halfway through the show which I was only too happy to join. This captive audience were treated to samples of Cytomax’s ‘muscle milk’ drink which tasted like a very good chocolate milkshake, a bit like For Goodness Shakes but without the powdery aftertaste. I could drink them all day but at £2.99 a bottle I would need a pay rise.
There was a bit of a gap in what I would expect bike manufacturers to show at TCR, no stands for Giant, Trek, Cannondale etc. Most of the bikes that were on show were either ploys to draw a crowd into a retail unit or were from fresh, new to the UK companies looking for some exposure such as Red Bull (new to the UK but well known on the continent). Their TT masterpiece, the Aero Flyer 8800, with Di2 and Dura Ace 7850 50mm deep carbon rims, wasn't on the stand but they did have a rather tasty X-Lite TT Flyer with Di2 and Zipp 808s for a cool £6,299. It featured airflow direction technologies similar to those developed by Oval and used on the Ridley Dean TT bike. Obviously I have no idea (yet!) how it rides but on spec the price is very competitive. RedBull bikes are distributed by Rose Versand who are Europe’s biggest mail order cycling company, if only the pound was a bit stronger against the Euro this bike (and the rest of the range for that matter) would be a bargain.
Rolf Prima were tucked away in a corner with their newly imported rims (as mentioned on road.cc). Just in the time that I was talking to the team at the stand several people came over with comments such as “I remember these” or “I had some of your wheels” all accompanied by large grins which makes me positive for the future for Rolf in the UK. Fondriest, Miche and Viner shared a stand and showed off their wares nicely. Some smooth carbon framesets were accompanies by sharp looking Miche rims. A smart choice for the discerning rider.
The usual power meter stands offering FFWD, Zipp and Hed wheel builds were on show to tempt yet more money from your pocket along with the most extravagant must have for any triathletes ‘home gym’, the endless pool. A freestanding or built in swimming pool of approximately 5m x 3m that has a machine bolted to one end. This generates a current through the pool by re-circulating the water, and the swimmer effectively swims to stay still. Olympic triathlete Will Clarke demonstrated the benefits of the endless pool by doing a couple of hundred metres warming up at a mere 1:07 per 100m (bloody fast!) before deciding to do some proper training at 1:01 per 100m. It was truly phenomenal to watch an Olympic triathlete swimming at such pace. This endless pool idea can incorporate underwater video camera to record your stroke for analysis. Cost? A mere £10k upwards.
Finally there were plenty of other things that would interest your stereotypical triathlete. Wetsuit launches from BlueSeventy and 2XU (£650 for the Project X suit, it better be as good as they say for that amount) along with a large stand from KSwiss featuring a soon to be available and very patriotic union jack shoe caught the eye.
Team Sky and adidas had a large stand by the entrance to the show as well; athletes with an eye on representing the UK at an age group level could try on this year’s national kit while others could get tempted by a range of team sky kit that we will all be able to buy soon.