Tour of California Road Shoe Wrap

Tour of California Road Shoe Wrap

Horner rolls out THOUSAND OAKS, CA – Snow in Tahoe, strange expo venues away from the course and a mountaintop finish up Mt. Baldy brought a different flavored Amgen Tour of California to the west coast this year. One thing was the same as the biggest news of the week came away from the course and off-the-bike instead of from the race course. I’m talking about the 60 Minutes upstaging the racing with an interview featuring Tyler Hamilton’s scathing comments about Lance Armstrong and doping. Sigh. This came on the heels of an already heavy week where Lance’s longtime teammate George Hincapie is rumored to have testified the same news to a federal grand jury in Los Angeles. This Tour of California might go down in history as the beginning of the end for Armstrong even as Team RadioShack went direct to damage control.

bont_vaypor_cyclingshoesBut what about the shoes? That’s what you’re here for right? Point taken. Let’s play some music shall we and talk about what your favorite pro’s are wearing when they’re not shooting up with chemicals and inorganic matter. Keep the science in the soles fellas so we all can play along without paying twice as much to ride our bikes. Thanks in advance.

It was easy to see lots of pretty shoes mashing the pedals on the Tour of California’s course this year. Shimano’s crown-jewel, the R315 was by far the most frequent shoe in the peloton. It’s also always in white like on Tom Zirbel’s feet. In fact Shimano R315′s are unanimously on each rider of Team Type 1, Jamis-Sutter Home, and Rabobank.

Sidi Ergo 2The peloton of the cycling elite seems to be naturally finding its roots and already turning its back on Armstong’s penchant for black feet. But if I were buying a pair of new kicks to spin the coming summer months in I don’t know they would be Shimano because the shoes are kind of boring and the technology is the same custom-molding that can be found pretty much everywhere now. Shimano was one of the first companies to pioneer the wonderful world of custom to our bike closets but the design of their high-end shoes for over $300 (even online) are simply ho-hum. There’s simply a lot more fun out there for your hard-earned dinero.

Chris Horner Spoiler alert: Chris Horner (RadioShack) won the whole-dang-race and as he is company guy he stays close to his Trek sponsor with a pair of red Bontrager RXXXL’s and a relaxed interview relevé. So does RadioShack MVP Matthew Busche for his tireless efforts on Saturday’s climb up Mt. Baldy protecting Horner and Levi Leipheimer from meddling attackers. Bontrager Rxxxl roadshoesHowever, Levi is the first man to jump ship with his own pair of black Giro Prolight SLX. Lance Armstrong may be gone but Levi is the one stronghold to carry on the black socks, black shoe tradition. But those Giro’s will set you back $350 in the US. Don’t worry, they are also offered in white.

Levi is not the only Giro-footed racer on RadioShack. Ben King who had his final race in his stars-and-stripes jersey as the reigning 2010 US road champion. King may have the stars-n-stripes but he doesn’t race in the Prolight’s. Instead he has a more modestly-priced, more fashionable Giro Factors in red and white that sell for $279. King does have a chance to win another national champ jersey next weekend, he enjoyed a shortened stint as US pro road champ when US Cycling moved the Championship race from late August to Memorial Day weekend when most of the rest of the world also crowns it’s victors.

Porsche team carAs I was walking through the team rigs noting both racing and podium shoes, I turned and recognized newly crowned Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Van Summeren (Garmin) in a spry pair of Bont Vaypors. Even some of Garmin’s mechanics are spoiled with MBT Mahuta trainers that will make you $230 lighter. The only better ride on this team was Coach Vaughters’ temporary team car.

Jelly Belly’s shoes are as mixed as a bag of their beans. Ken Hanson is all kitted out even before his water bottle but Jeremy Powers tries to relax before a long day in the saddle, even during interviews. And if you had to abandon the race early like Alastair Loutit did after a bad wreck, this is your new shoe of choice. Don’t worry, they know how to keep from swappin’ sweat. It may not be euro but I think it brings his whole Brad Huff look together.

DMT cycling shoesAndy Schleck straps on a rare pair of Northwave’s while his other Leopard Trek teammates prefer a little more click. Jason Donald (Kelly Benefit) is one of the few Mavic riders, Taylor Phinney is so young he still goes casual until racetime, and Frank Pipp seems to enjoy his DMT shoes along with the rest of his Bissel Cycling teammates even if some of them go with wind covers every day (even pro’s ride with holes in them.)

Liquigas-Cannondale keep it classy in their Italain-made Sidi Ergo 2′s and Team Saxo Bank follow their bike-supplier Specialized. But I wonder if Juan José Haedo isn’t thinking tonight that he could have won the stage’s sprint finish if only he kept his shoes as clean as his brother Sebastian does. Juan José came in tenth both at the finish line and second to his team bus door when he tried to avoid me taking a picture. At least one time in my life I can say I beat him.

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