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FSA confirms electronic drivetrain development, denies team sponsorship rumor

FSA has confirmed the development of a complete drivetrain to VeloNews, but insisted that it would not sponsor a team with shifting components in 2015. Nonetheless, rumors that Etixx-Quick-Step has a drivetrain contract with Full Speed Ahead (FSA) continue to swirl. Three separate industry sources, all of whom requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information, relayed these rumors to VeloNews.

According to these sources, the team will buy Shimano groups until FSA’s 11-speed electronic group is ready. Omega Pharma-Quickstep, which turns into Etixx-Quick-Step for 2015, was a SRAM-sponsored team during the 2014 season.

FSA has previously acknowledged the development of the new electronic drivetrain, but when contacted for comment, FSA’s marketing manager Gloria Radaelli denied the 2015 sponsorship rumors.

“Every year there are rumors about the FSA groupset, but we are not ready yet,” Radaelli said via e-mail. “I can say that in 2015 we are not going to sponsor officially any teams with a groupset.”

Specialized will equip Patrick Lefevere’s team again for 2015, but the bike brand declined to comment on the FSA drivetrain rumor. A team spokesman did not return correspondence seeking comment.

The Etixx-to-FSA rumor conflicts with an October interview with mechanic Franck Potier on the French website MatosVelo. Potier made no mention of FSA, saying, “next year we will roll Shimano electric.” But if the FSA group is still months out, the team might spend most of the year on its purchased Shimano drivetrains.

Photos of Etixx-Quick-Step aboard new bikes with Shimano drivetrains and FSA components — stems, handlebars, and seatposts — were released by the team on Monday.

It’s possible that the FSA drivetrain will be compatible with Shimano’s Di2 system. As Tony Farelly wrote on Road.cc in September, Shimano’s Di2 system uses the Bosch CAN bus protocol, and there is no reason why FSA couldn’t do the same.

FSA has released time trial-specific drivetrains in the past, under the Metron brand, but this would be its first foray into a complete road group. The system will include FSA-branded shift/brake levers, derailleurs, brakes, a chain, and a crankset.

SRAM has a wireless electronic road drivetrain in the late stages of development as well, but a final release date for that system is months out.

Details of the new FSA group are scarce, and representatives from FSA remain tight-lipped. A recent trip to FSA’s manufacturing facility in Taiwan only served to muddy the waters; an electronic group was nowhere to be seen.