Kids, there were an awful lot of BIKES in Las Vegas this past weekend. Bikes, bikes, bikes; and as I am very sure you may assume, this reporter was only passingly interested in all the shiny components and sleek designs the clever folks at interbike were hawking. I mean, bikes are good, but I'd rather tell you about the boys!
Hence, Crazy Jane's Interbike 11 - because this list goes to 11.
Seigler with his wares
- Gilberto Simoni - My dear readers, I was lucky enough to spend some quality time with the Giro d'Italia Champion, and I have come to the conclusion that Gilberto Simoni has been dreadfully mis-represented in the English-speaking cycling press. From what I can tell, the real Simoni is getting lost in translation, because far from being the cocky loud-mouth he has been made out to be, Gibo is in fact a very quiet, humble guy. Hailing from a small village in Italy of only 500 people, he is a simple country boy; and from this reporter's perspective, is packing some nuclear weapons grade charm. Gilberto spent the weekend taking in the sights and sounds of Vegas, a little of a fish out of water, but swimming just fine. Here are a few things I learned about Gilberto this weekend, despite the fact that he speaks very little English:
- Gibo is a tiny little creature! Reportedly, he is 5'8", but I am 5'2", and in a two inch heel, it's eye to eye, baby. Though I'm guessing he might weigh something like 135lbs now, Gibo told me that when he finished the Giro d'Italia this year, he weighed in at only about 118lbs! There's a lot of power in that little package, no?
- Like many of the Italians, Gibo is working some hardcore fashion! From his top blond-tipped head to the bottom his black pointy-toed boots that no straight American man would have the nads to rock, Gibo was cutting a swath of Euro-flair everyplace he went. Two thumbs up, here!
- Gibo likes to sing! He favors old standards from the 30's - Frank Sinatra numbers. He is a cheerful sort, and goes around whistling all the time. Off to the men's room? Whistling all the way. Walking around at the Sinclair party? Whistling. At dinner on Sunday night at Spago Las Vegas, he even sang us a few bars of "Under my Skin." Needless to say, I was charmed.
- Gibo is sweet and humble in the face of the fandimonium prompted by his autograph signing engagements. Asked if he was surprised that so many people were excited to see him, he replies with the internationally recognized expression of incredulity: "of course!" Signing autographs for hours at a time for both Fi'z:ik and Cannondale, and submitting to literally hundreds of pictures for dealers and fans, Gibo wasn't only patient, he was warm and sweet to everyone, greeting each person with a look in the eye and a genuine smile, kissing the girls on both cheeks, shaking hands and scribbling his name until his wrist ached. Asked if that's a tough gig for him, he shrugs, and says that he knew he'd be doing that here, and he's happy to do it.
The long and short is that not only is Gilberto Simoni a worthy champion, but he is a lovely man. I would suggest that what has been taken for out-spoken bravado in the press is really just the confidence of a winning athlete who doesn't go into the contest accepting defeat. Andiamo, Gibo!
- George Hincapie - George and his new girlfriend must have been swans in a previous life, because both of them are tall, thin, and beautiful. The pressure was on for George in Hamilton last weekend, as it so often is when one-day races are your poison, but he was foiled in his bid for the rainbow jersey by an episode of food poisoning. George reported that he felt great heading into the race, and trained seven hours per day in the weeks before, but felt it all go out the window with something he ate the day before the race. Despite being terribly disappointed by a lack-luster performance at the worlds, he turned up in Vegas with a beautiful woman on his arm, feeling better and looking good in bright, freshly pressed white; working the hair products pretty hard, as always. I did notice that he had missed a spot along the jaw while shaving, though... I guess nobody's perfect.
Hincapie and his lady friend
Hincapie greeted his fans with a big, toothsome smile and those dimples (you know the ones) at the show, and signed a particularly dapper photo of himself for all comers to the Sinclair Imports/Hincapie Sportswear display. George can be a shy one and is often a man of few words, but he set his pimp juice loose later that night and partied rock star style, first at the Sinclair Imports party, which was a veritable who's who with all the pros and bigwigs in attendance; and then even later still at the party after the party at Mandalay Bay's famous Rum Runner nightclub, where there were dancing girls in cages and sexy acrobats hanging from the ceiling. Don't be shocked, my dear readers, but I must report to you that there were some cocktails and some boogying down. George was, like usual, all hopped-up on charm.
- Victor Hugo Peña - Speaking of boogying down, I can't go a moment longer without letting you all know that Victor Hugo is a brilliant dancer. This year's first Postie in the Maillot Jaune may not speak a lot of English, but he is fluent in the international language of shakin' ass. Victor Hugo is working some sexy Latin rhythm, and it's all in the hips. Moreover, that smile of his is even higher-wattage in person.
- Freddy Rodriguez - While we're on the topic of sexy Latins, it's always a pleasure to see Freddy. Fresh off of turning in the best American performance in the Worlds in Hamilton and lots of great riding in La Vuelta, Fred was gorgeously turned out in an elaborately embroidered white Mexican wedding shirt that he told me a good gay friend of his helped him pick out. I'm seeing a brilliant possibility for an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy in my imagination, but the truth is, Freddy doesn't need much help - he's already pretty fabulous. Like always, he had just a little bit of laid-back naughtiness in his smile, nice, upright posture, and a charming, playful way of being him. He's a good dancer, too.
- Alessandro Petacchi - Petacchi sees a lot of comparison to the man he deposed this year from the throne of the Italian god of the sprint, Mario Cipollini, but Alessandro is nothing like his flashy peacock of a rival. Quiet, modestly dressed and every bit as handsome as he looks on the podium, Petacchi seemed a little uncomfortable with Interbike duty. Camped out for a couple of hours per day in the Pinarello booth next to his steed of choice, the Pinarello Dogma, Petacchi had the moral support of Fausto Pinarello on one side, and his girlfriend Anna on the other - a remarkably beautiful girl with very long dark hair and a high, arching brow. He has perfectly even, smooth brown skin and impeccable grooming - just the right amount of stubble. Unlike a lot of bike racers, who have a bit of a fragile look, Petacchi looks healthy, tall and solid.
Petacchi, working hard
Petacchi seemed a bit shy and somewhat silent, but dudes he won 15 stages in three grand tours this year, and seeing him in Las Vegas was cool. It takes a lot of mojo to win bike races like that, and there's something about seeing that same guy - looking embarrassed by the attention - in jeans at the bike show, that puts it into perspective. That, and he's a good lookin' kid, too. The pleasure was all mine.
- Tyler Hamilton - Making his appearance at the Speedplay pedals booth, hosted by the always charming purveyors of Speedplay Pedals, Richard Bryne and Sharon Worman. Tyler looked as pixie-ish as ever and like proof of a Massachusetts gene pool; he looks like everyone I went to high-school with in Western Mass. He takes that theme one step further with his very Brooks Brothers presentation: Tyler always seems to be wearing a blue cotton shirt, which is great for him, because it brings out his eyes... And, does everyone remember that time when he broke his collarbone in the Tour de France, went on a 150km lone breakaway to win a stage and finished 4th overall? Or, what about that time he broke his scapula and finished second in the Giro, while grinding his teeth down to the nubs? Tyler is just a stud, and jaded old cycling journalist that I am, I must say, I'm impressed. I always seem to find myself saying "That's TYLER HAMILTON" under my breath when I see him. Tyler scribbled his name literally hundreds of times this weekend for a few of his sponsors, and he very well might be the nicest man in pro cycling.
Word has it that Tyler's new Phonak team has nearly finalized a deal with Crazy Jane's Official (But Unfortunate) Vuelta Favorite™, Oscar Sevilla. With that one-two punch in the line up, it looks like Crazy Jane's got a new favorite team, kids! Am I doomed to like the teams with the ugliest kits? Time will tell.
- Jose Luis "Chechu" Rubiera - Ok, All I'm saying is, 100% total charm. Chechu was brilliant this year in the Tour, and for my money, deserves the MVP award for his service on Luz Ardiden, pacing his beleaguered team captain back up to the heads of state after he was clothes-lined by a spectator. So, he's all that, but additionally, Señor Rubiera is delicioso with his blue eyes and generous smile.
- David Millar - If you've got any questions about the art of making a dramatic entrance, you might want to drop recently crowned world time trial champion David Millar a line. He arrived at the Sinclair Imports party fashionably late, towering over the rest of the room, wearing his sunglasses at night, and dressed like a pop star. He clearly comes from the David Beckham school of metrosexual self-presentation, and I say AMEN to that, because it is damned entertaining. He hit the scene like a king, kissed all the boys, and looked pretty well-chuffed with himself all in all. That night, at the party, he had a whole un-tucked shirt and tie thing happening; the next day at the show, I spotted him in the saggy-ass hip hop jeans look with his shirt unbuttoned to reveal his jewelry selections. He's really very tall, and really, really, REALLY skinny. I guess that's how he cuts through the wind like a knife!
- Beppo Hilfiker - Cannondale Marketing Guru Beppo Hilfiker is quiet and unassuming, but obviously holds the reigns on a more than a few things. He goes effortlessly from English to German to Italian, and those were only the fluencies I witnessed! In town to handle the engagements of Gilberto Simoni and take care of Cannondale business, he was scheduled to fly out of Vegas to Hawaii to do the 25th Annual Ironman World Championship this Saturday. Add to that his understated fashion and the calm way he seems to have everything in hand, and I must say, he struck this reporter as kinda money.
- Wes Seigler - Team West Virgina's legendarily handsome Wes Seigler has, sadly for us ladies, retired from the pro ranks to take up the helm at SP Imports importing CSK frames and components. Wes, a married man (alas!), spent the weekend leading out his friends to score with the ladies, and advertising his awesome, all-over tan. God bless him. Go buy his bikes or something!
Well, that's eleven, isn't it, but I don't feel like I can stop there. If I did, I'd be missing Italian cycling God Francesco Moser, definitely a handsome one, even in grey hair; Two-time USPRO Criterium Champion Kevin Monahan, who is such a huge pleasure every time I see him; Rich Hincapie and Steve Baker of Hincapie Sportswear, who are just as good as I suspected; former USPRO Champion Marti Jemison, who's Marty Jemison Cycling Tours look like great fun (and thanks for watching my purse, dude!); US Postal Soigneur Freddy Viane who has a new line of muscle care products and sparkly blue eyes; Matt White who arrived just in time to party; and a (maybe just a little bit tipsy) Phil Liggett, who kissed me once on the cheek when he thought my name was Julie, again when he knew it was, er, Jane (yeah, right...); and it was the highlight of my high-rollin' weekend.
Sinclair Imports rounds 'em up!
In other words, yes: it has been another delicious foray into the bike universe. What a great crew! Thanks for everything, guys!
For more Interbike fun, here's a photo album for your enjoyment.