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Tour de France Becoming a Launch Place

Published July 9, 2008

PLUMELEC, France (BRAIN)—Oakley sports marketing manager Steve Blick had a job to do: hand deliver the prototype ‘09 Racing Jacket to George Hincapie and Thor Hushovd before the Tour de France began.

Mission accomplished.

“Glasses were really good—actually more happy with them than the Radars,” Hushovd said after Stage 1. “Good protection all the way.”

The updated Racing Jacket is centered around a frame with virtually zero compressive stresses. This means more pristine optics with little to no distortion via a unique suspension system that holds the lens in place, isolating it from compressive stresses.

Switching out lenses also became easier with the Racing Jacket, as a pivoting nosepiece system doubles as a quick-release system for fast and easy lens replacement.

Oakley wasn’t the only company that introduced something for the first time at the Tour de France. Riders from Team CSC-Saxo Bank and Credit Agricole unveiled Bell’s new Volt helmet.

“The Tour always delivers excitement and drama,” said Tom Larter, vice president of Bell Sports. “CSC and Crédit Agricole are always at the sharp end of the race come Tour time and we were thrilled to have them debut the Volt.”

Eleven frontal vents corral massive amounts of air with the help of the Volt’s custom-sculpted Composite Fiber Intakes (CFI), which direct flow to the helmet’s internal StreamJet Ventilation channels. Rear exhaust ports and the moisture-wicking X-Static padding work in tandem to help keep the rider cool and dry.

“I think high profile events like the Tour de France and the World Cup on the mountain bike side are the ultimate proving grounds for maximum exposure to the high-end enthusiast we're targeting with a helmet like the Volt,” said Don Palermini, brand manager at Bell Sports. “Thor Hushovd was one of the most enthusiastic and he won Stage 2, so it must be working for him.”

To see which other companies introduced product at this year's Tour de France, be sure to read the Aug. 1 issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News.

—Jason Norman

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