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Tour Tech 2013: On le buses

After the Busgate debacle in Corsica, we decide to have a team bus shootout

The Orica GreenEdge bus made a little bit of Tour history earlier today when it got wedged under the finish line arch in Corsica, leading to all sorts of confusion. Busgate, we’re calling it. That gives us all the excuse we need for a team bus shootout.

Before we get started, I’d just like to relate a little tale to you... I got a message from editor Tony this afternoon saying, “Did you take a pic of the Orica GreenEdge bus in Corsica? It has made the news”.

“A bus, you say? One of those things you told me to stop shooting the other day?”

“Yes.”

“You told me to stop wasting time taking pictures of buses and to do some proper work.”

“Yes.”

“And now you want a picture of one of the buses?”

“Yes.”

“So you’re probably sorry that you said that now?”

“Yes.”

“Very sorry?”

“Yes.”

“In that case, I have it.”

Just saying. Anyway, team buses: they’re buses and they belong to the teams. And here they are in all their glory…

 

Team Sky

We ran a story, including a video, earlier in the year on the Team Sky bus that’s the envy of the peloton. The riders spend loads of time on board so they have all sorts of comforts to keep them, um, comfortable – swivelly chairs, showers, a sound system, cinema, swimming pool… Okay, not a swimming pool, but you’d be amazed at what they have in the bus that they’ve nicknamed the Death Star.

As well as housing all mod cons, Team Sky’s bus leads the way in the looks depart. It’s sleek, stylish and understated, a lot like their Rapha team clothing. We’re giving it extra cred for the double axle at the back that just looks a bit more pro. 9/10

 

Euskaltel-Euskadi

"Did you know that there’s no Basque translation for the word 'subtle' or for the phrase 'too much orange'?"

"Is that right?"

"No."

Points for being distinctive, though, because that’s half the battle. 6/10

 

Belkin Pro Cycling

There’s a fine line between understated and boring. Sorry, but this one just doesn’t do it for us. Interestingly, they’ve gone for a VDL bus rather than a MAN like most other teams. No, you’re right, that was an incorrect use of the word ‘interestingly’. Points off for being dull, points back on for having to cope with a mid-season team name change. 5/10

 

Argos-Shimano

Argos-Shimano pick up a couple points for having the bus that looks most like a caterpillar. Obviously, that’s a good thing. We’re not rating the graphics highly though – they’re a bit boring. Nice blue edging around the bottom though, but could do better. 6/10

 

RadioShack-Leopard Trek

Second coolest looking bus, we’re saying, belongs to Radioshack Leopard Trek. Neat colours. We’re taking a point off for over-prominent use of their Facebook and Twitter presence. It’s a bit needy, in our opinion. 8/10

 

Cofidis

The Cofidis bus looks like a 1990s throwback to us. Nothing too offensive here but it needs a refresh. It wouldn't surprise us one bit if that's what that bloke is saying to his wife. The world of team buses is a competitive one. If you don’t keep up, you’re going to get trampled underfoot. By the way, is anyone taking charge of that pushchair? 4/10

 

Europcar

Now, we like Europcar’s classy Colnago bikes and we even had a Europcar hire car in Corsica, but green buses are for pensioners only, sorry. 3/10

 

Cannondale

Hang on a sec, though, Cannondale’s bus has a lot of green on it and it manages to look pretty cool. The difference is that this is green and black, like the chocolate. And like the chocolate, it’s pretty tasty, organic and made with Fairtrade-certified cocoa beans. Okay, the analogy breaks down towards the end there but the point remains.

If you 've never heard of Green & Black’s chocolate, that last bit will have been wasted on you. Don’t worry about it. It was nonsense anyway. 7/10

 

Francais de Jeux

Meh! It’s okay. 6/10

 

Lampre-Merida

Green, purple and blue? It’s too much. 4/10

 

Garmin-Sharp

Yeah, it’s not bad, but if you’re going to do the argyle thing, you have to commit to it – see road.cc jerseys for details. Slinging that single diamond on the back makes it look like an afterthought. Bonus point for the Cervélo é logo on the wing mirrors though. Nice touch. 7/10

 

Omega Pharma-Quick Step

Mid-table at best. We’re awarding an extra point for using team issue barrier tape and revoking that same point for those shoes drying behind the windscreen. Sorry, but we can’t tolerate shoddiness. Team Sky wouldn’t do that. 5/10

 

Vacansoleil-DCM

Yeah, it’s okay, but it’s not going to make the podium, is it? 6/10. Oh, wait a minute, I just remembered that one of the mechanics gave us a water bottle each. 7/10

 

Sojasun

We don’t like to be harsh but what the hell is going on here? Sojasun are going to have to step up their bus-designing game if they want to become a World Tour team, rather than just getting in as a wild card. 2/10

 

Team Katusha

Red buses should be double deckers, possibly with Cliff Richard leading a singalong up top or Frank Spencer hanging off the back on rollerskates. Grudgingly, we’d have to admit that even though they’ve neglected these basics, Katusha’s bus still looks pretty neat. 7/10

 

Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank

We’ve got no strong feelings on this one. It looks uncluttered but that’s because most of the sponsors’ logos are pretty much invisible along the top. That’s not good if you’re one of those sponsors. 6/10

 

Orica GreenEdge

It was doing so well with a double axle and non-matching wing mirrors that are kind of quirky. It even looks like it has been lowered, although the evidence from the finish line says otherwise.

However, in the light of recent events, we’re not giving this bus any points. What’s that you say? “It wasn’t their fault the finish line was built too low.” Well, you might be right but Orica GreenEdge are going to have to go through a lengthy appeals process if they want us to reconsider and there’s a lot of paperwork involved. Plus, there’s always the chance that they’ll end up on a negative score. 0/10

 

Astana

Cool colour. For that reason alone, 8/10

Regrettably, Movistar, Lotto Belisol, BMC and AG2R-La Mondiale don’t get a rating because either their buses were out when we went visiting their hotels or, more likely, we just forgot to photograph them. They’ll be devastated when they hear about this.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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