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If you were one of the many bicycle fans that jumped on the band wagon either this year or last to stay up late and watch our favourite Aussie star Cadel Evans in the Tour de France, you’ve probably developed bags under your eyes like I have.
Cycling is one of the fastest growing sports in Australia at the moment, the Tour Down Under held in Adelaide every year is getting more popular with some of the sports biggest stars making the journey to compete. No doubt you’ve heard that Lance Armstrong is making a comeback and will be visiting Australia for the race in January 2009.
When the Barloworld cycling team make their way to Australia to compete on their Bianchi’s bicycles they travel in style. The importers of Bianchi Australia have teamed up with youandiride.com to support the riders and supply the team cars.
Lately the Barloworld Bianchi team cars in Australia are a collection of shiny new Mercedes-Benz (B-Class, C-Class & ML-Class) and we’re lucky enough to take their new Mercedes Benz C200 Estate for a ride, or drive rather. So what exactly makes a good team car?
The checklist for a good cycling team car encompasses:
• Long roof length
• Smooth comfortable suspension
• Good handling
• Smooth direct steering
• Economic engine
• Large cargo area
• Large window opening
• Cruise control
• Comfortable seats
• Climate control
• Good brakes with ABS and ESP
• Lots of passenger space
• The more cup/bottle holders the better
• Good visibility
• Large mirrors
The team car follows the race all day, sometimes up to 8 hours of cycling per day following the peleton. The driver of the team car is a bit like those buskers you see in the city, with a harmonica in the mouth, a drum in one hand, a maraca in the other and tapping a symbol with his feet.
The team driver must be a gun at multi-tasking, throughout the day the driver and mechanics inside the team car are responsible for getting tyres changed as quickly as possible, delivering fresh drink bottles to the riders and driving extremely close to their cyclists when they need a tune-up on the move.
They are forever talking with cyclists and other team members whilst driving in a peleton and not driving over anyone in the process.
After a few days of driving the Mercedes-Benz C200K Estate Aussie Bianchi team car I would have to say it’s a damn impressive premium wagon. I think it ticks all the boxes above and more. With the Mercedes-Benz C200K Estate we are luckily enough to be testing the Bianchi 928 Veloce road bike.
To test the comfort of the C200K Estate we went for a drive in Melbourne’s peak hour traffic, the last thing the driver needs is to suffer from is fatigue when sitting behind the wheel all day. The leather seats are supportive, providing a fine mix of comfort and firmness, there is also tilt adjustable seat cushion and steering column allowing the driver to steer with his knee when he’s on the phone or helping the mechanic, all whilst traveling at 60km/h plus down a snaking road.
The rear passenger window is quite large enabling a torso to extend from the vehicle, the rear doors also have child locks to prevent the read door opening when leaning out.
The steering in the C200K Estate is top of its class; its effortless feel coupled to an advanced suspension makes it easy to drive especially close to cyclists… that we knew.
The side and rear windows are large and positioned so that blind spots are not covered by large thick pillars, and the side mirrors are both convex offering great visibility.
Mercedes-Benz have fitted out the C200K Estate with all the nice features making a long journey more comfortable whilst preventing fatigue behind the wheel, after all the team car is the office for some of the team members. The climate control has dual front zoning allowing the driver and front passenger to have individual temperatures keeping everyone cool, calm and collected. The audio system takes a little bit of getting used to and can be operated from three separate locations in the cabin, the sound is of high quality through a Harmon Kardon speaker set-up.
The Mercedes-Benz C200K Estate is also light on the fuel and carbon emissions, it averages 8.3 litres per 100 km and emits 198 g/km.
And finally, the team car reflects the bike team and its sponsors so its got to be easy on the eye and suitable for cyclists, so plenty of advertising space for sponsors on the team car is a gimme for choosing a wagon over sedan. The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been voted the best looking C-Class ever by many critics, its modern sporty design is proud showing off the 3-pointed star grille and the new tailgate is more modern; it’s almost a hatch so it appeals to a younger audience. Grab yourself some Mercedes-Benz cycling roof racks, throw up the Celeste Green carbon fibre Bianchi bicycle and hit the road in style.
Bianchi 928 C2C Veloce Review
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