In the vast A1 hall of the Messe, Friedrichshafen, final preparations are being made for tomorrow’s opening of Eurobike 2012, the world’s biggest bike show.
Men scale ladders to precarious heights, finishing the stands from which their wares will be displayed for the coming five days. The same will be happening in a further seven halls at this giant complex.
The scale of the stands is a mirror for the scale of the bicycle industry. The largest are equal in size and professionalism to anything at the world’s leading motor shows.
Tom Ritchey stares down imposingly at the almost finished stand that will display his frames, wheels, and finishing kit: a giant black and white image of the company founder casting an eye over all he possesses.
Many of the machines remain under shrouds: everything on the De Rosa stand and Olmo stands, for example, is stored like set props readied for opening night.
The hall is not fully lit, and the few spotlights switched on to test create a more striking effect on the machines that gleam beneath them.
Carrera bicycles, a name licenced by the jeans company that sponsored the Pro Tour team of the 1980s, and sold in the UK as Pantani to prevent confusion with a less exclusive brand of the same name, win the pre-show prize for the most attractive machines, lined up before giant images of the great champions who raced to glory in their iconic red, white, and blue strip: Chiappuchi, Pantani, and Roche.
The next four days will offer a chance to see the new and best developments in bicycle, component, and clothing manufacture. It promises to be an intriguing assignment.