Week in Review: December 9, 2013

From a Specialized PR disaster to the overwhelming power of bicycles in Rwanda, these stories tell the week that was at VeloNews

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Specialized’s disastrous trademark case is unnecessary to defend the brand

By Caley Fretz in Boulder, Colorado
It took less than two hours for the story of Dan Richter’s small bike shop to jump from the pages of a Canadian newspaper to the screens of cyclists across the globe, and for that same small story to have a dramatic impact on one of the largest bike brands in the world.

Richter, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, is the owner of a small shop in the town of Cochrane, Alberta, focused on custom wheel builds and other high-end projects. Business was humming along nicely late last summer when he received a cease and desist letter from Specialized Bicycle Components, the contents of which would spill out onto social media last weekend, setting off a tidal wave of outrage at the bike brand.

According to Richter, the letter demanded that he change the name of his shop, Café Roubaix, and that he cease to sell wheelsets and other components under the same name. Specialized claimed sole rights to the Roubaix mark under Canadian trademark law; a fact that is easily verifiable with a quick web search.
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Rwanda and the transformative power of the bicycle

By Lennard Zinn in Boulder, Colorado
A bicycle is just a machine, and, as machines go, a relatively simple one. However, it can take the rider to faraway places, both physically and emotionally, while making that rider a better person for it. And in some cases, not only the rider is transformed, but also entire communities, countries, and even the world.

Such is what bicycles have done in Rwanda, with the support of two icons of American cycling. A great movie and riveting book about the unlikely Rwandan cycling explosion just came out and are bringing the story to the world.

The story is an amazing one set in a country wracked by a 1994 genocide that wiped out 10 percent of its population — nearly a million people were killed in tribal violence at the urging of the government, mostly by primitive means like machetes and clubs. Factories were wiped out by the murder of their owners and employees and by looting of their equipment, so manufacturing of products — including bicycles — ground to a standstill. In order to move goods and themselves in a hilly country largely devoid of infrastructure, people would rough-hew bicycles out of wood (pedal-less bicycles, heavy-duty scooters, really), nailing old car-tire treads around the wooden wheels to slightly smooth the ride. And, like anywhere where multiple people have bicycles, no matter how rudimentary, they race each other.
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Exit interview: Timmy Duggan on retiring from pro cycling

By Matthew Beaudin in Boulder, Colorado
Last week, Timmy Duggan called it a career. The American had won a national championship after recovering from a traumatic brain injury he suffered in 2008. While he was waiting for a contract with Cannondale to come through, he went for a soul ride around his home in Nederland, Colorado. By the time he got to his driveway, and only then, really, he decided to move on, that the sacrifices he was making to be one, two percent faster, weren’t worth it any longer.

VeloNews sat down last week with Duggan, 31, at a coffee shop in Boulder, after he announced he was retiring.

VeloNews: Was this a long time coming?
Timmy Duggan: Yes and no. To tell you the truth, ever since my brain injury in 2008, pretty much every year after that there was a point during the season where I’d think, ‘Yeah, this is my last year.’ But then at the end of the day, the end of the season, I’m having enough fun, I’m happy with the situation, I’m still continuing an upward progression and improving and I keep going, you know? But this year, for a variety of reasons, fundamentally, it’s just time to move on. It’s that simple. Nothing, all of a sudden, was so drastically different or anything … I’m ready to move on.
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Tinkov: Criticism of Contador on Twitter went too far

By Gregor Brown in Milan
Oleg Tinkov, the new team owner of Tinkoff-Saxo, made amends with star rider Alberto Contador over his Twitter comments. The Russian said that he was just trying to provoke Contador by writing that he was overpaid, not professional enough, and lacked desire.

“He had some issues but of course, he understands that it was just a provocation,” Tinkov told VeloNews. “I’m passionate about this sport and sometimes, I was just maybe a little bit over [board] but it’s not a big deal.”

Tinkov created a stir on his Twitter account, @olegtinkov, when he wrote about Contador’s Tour de France performance over the summer. Contador, a two-time winner of the race, placed fourth behind Chris Froome (Sky) this year. In terms of wins, it was his worst season since his debut year in 2003. He won once, a stage in the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.

A day after the Tour, July 22, Tinkov took to Twitter: “Conta performance wasn’t good. He need to change many things in his preparation and be more pro. Will he do that? That’s the question…

“His salary doesn’t match his performance. Too rich and isn’t hungry, that’s my opinion, and I deserve it. He must work harder”
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Trek holds out hope for a Schleck comeback in 2014

By Andrew Hood in Leon, Spain
Back in the day, say 2011 or so, any conversation of the Tour de France was synonymous with the Schleck brothers.

The Luxembourgers were front and center in the quest for the yellow jersey, and they made history as the first brothers to share the podium in 2011.

Today, after a string of injuries and racing bans, not to mention questions about their professionalism, all that talk of the yellow jersey seems like a very long time ago.

New faces dominate the banter about the yellow jersey. Chatter about the Tour centers around Sky, Chris Froome, and a growing horde of young talents, led by Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing).

For 2014, the Schlecks and their newly branded team, Trek Factory Team, the coming season is critical to regain their place among contenders for the yellow jersey.

“For the Schlecks, and for us, it will be a challenging season,” Trek general manager Luca Guercilena told VeloNews. “It’s been a few years since they were at the top level. We believe they can come back.”
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