In the movie Zoolander, Owen Wilson's character Hansel seems to be constantly followed around by House music and an entourage. His introduction in the film is preceded by a deep bass beat followed by an off-camera baritone saying "HAN-sel."
That's what I think of every time I see a rider or vehicle from Rock Racing. The newly-formed Continental team was created by fashion designer Michael Ball of Rock & Republic.
And when they roll up, you know it. They're generally one of the first teams to have a presence near the start and finish lines...mostly due to the tent set up to sell $9 water bottles and Rock Racing trucker hats.
But when the team bus rolls in, someone quickly hops out and puts down the lime green traffic cones. They're one of the few squads to put up a barrier (those rolling strap kinds that you heard people in line at a movie theater or H&M). And they draw hordes of onlookers.
The Rolls Royce they sport helps too.
Despite being a sponsor of the race, the Amgen organizers only allowed five of their men to participate. Issues with phantom doping investigations got in the way (more about that on Bruce's blog). But that still doesn't stop them from drawing attention. Italian Mario Cipollini
aka Super Mario, aka The Lion Kingseems to have a camera crew with him wherever he goes.
Check out his ride. That's a limited edition (as in, made just for him) Cipollini bike. It also comes in white and regular road black.
But there are other riders on the team here in California worth mentioning, including Fast Freddie Rodriguez, who is back on a U.S team for the first time since 1991. Michael Creed is a young rider who's looking to prove he's not just filling a roster spot. He's currently hammering it on Stage 7, earning both sprint and KOM points.
But let's be honest, the team members the fans have really been going ga-ga for are the Rock Racing podium girls.
The team seems to be everywhere. Without a number for the race, the excluded Rock Racing riders Tyler Hamilton, Oscar Sevilla, and Santiago Botero
along with a few riders from other squads who've bowed outtook to the highway to get some riding in ahead of the peloton.
Their website is a little bare, but check out the commercial they made for themselves. Hard core.
It'll be interesting to see how the team plays out over the course of this season and next. Will bike teams become the new yachts for rich guys with time on their hands? Is Ball the Mark Cuban of cycling? Can he take the black and neon green to France in a few years?
Will Rock Racing even be back next year?
Beats me. But honestly, they're fun to have around.