Not for Romain Bardet a boxful of Rolex watches.
To say a special thank you to each member of his Tour de France squad for their efforts in supporting his second place overall, the Frenchman bought them custom engraved Rocket R60 espresso machines.
He’s not the only one. Greg Van Avermaet did the same for his Belgian team-mates who rode with him at the Olympics and Rohan Dennis had a custom machine made up when he set a new UCI Hour Record in 2015.
Just as the tongue-busting menthol lozenges used to clear the congested throats of deep sea fishermen in the Lancashire port of Fleetwood, so the thick crema of an espresso pulled from a Rocket machine is unblocking heavy legs across Europe. The Rocket R60 is the ‘Cyclists’ Friend’.
From those first machines bought by early adopters like Simon Gerrans, the R60 owners club now features over 30 WorldTour pros, including the likes of Nico Roche, Ian Boswell, Joe Dombrowski, Caleb Ewan, John Degenkolb, Andre Greipel and Edvald Boasson Hagen. There are machines on several team buses, including Orica and Team Sky.
“It started with a few riders, with one guy on each team. Then with word of mouth it went to two or three or four guys on a team who get one,” says Andrew Meo, the coffee- and cycling-loving Kiwi who moved to Italy and set up Rocket with Daniele Berenbruch.
“It tends to be the Anglo-Saxon teams rather than the Italians. Theirs is just a different café culture. Daniele Bennati is the only Italian rider so far who has one.”
Some are more into it than others. But soon enough the real coffee connoisseurs like Joe Dombrowski, Ian Boswell and Caleb Ewan are going to have competition; the last 12 months have seen demand for R60s, made and assembled by hand in Milan, skyrocket.
So much so that Christian Meier, a soon to be retired Orica rider who pulls espresso on his Rocket machines in his La Fabrica and Espresso Mafia coffee shops in Girona, has become a two-wheeled travelling salesman of sorts.
“I have spent many, many kilometres in the peloton talking about them,” he says.
“They’re awesome machines in general. For machines up to 1000€, they’re the most desirable home machine on the market.
“They’re a great product, they keep that timeless aesthetic and you can have that classic look with new technology.”
Andrew Meo, Christian Meier and Rocket Espresso will be displaying their machines – and making exquisite coffee – at the Rouleur Classic, November 3-5.