Great comments weenies, keep them coming-
c50jim- Good points for sure and in face I think an Extreme Power can be had in my size for around 1,500 so that would fit the bill. The only thing is that I have a feeling I would crave the increased stiffness and tapered steerer of the EPS/Q? I think the geo works well and there's lots of testimonies of them being quite durable, but as you said it is a touch of a lottery with these things. I think inherrently tube-lug or wrapped is going to be a bit tougher then monocoque, but what do i know.
ticou- good point, I have to admit that I've looked out the corner of my eye at the new Condor super accaio
shoopdawoop- totally makes sense except for one really dumb thing on my side.....my wife has an R3 team, it hurts to be his and hers
The S3 appeals as it does have a bit of placebo aero yet supposedly a bit comfier than an S2. I actually demoed a Soloist Carbon ages ago before I rode anywhere near as much as I do now and didn't find it uncomfy, but that said, it was for less than 2 hrs and my position has changed a lot.
Franklin- I have a Ridley Scandium that is currently being built up from the parts of my cracked Merckx EMX-5 so that my alu ride for shorter stuff. It looks a stout ride and I've got some Reynolds tubbies for race day I can chuck on it. I have a feeling that it's not going to be terribly refined though and I do ride around 10 big sportives a year on top (5-8 hrs) so as mentioned above, a touch of comfort is important. I owned a Canyon Ultimate Cf (2009 I think) which was great over short distances, but whatever 'Tour' mag says, it wasn't comfy. It would take big hits very poorly in my opinion even if it did ok w/ buzz. My Merckx had a bit of buzz, but most importantly for me took big hits in stride very well and held it's line.
edit- I'll defend my Aeroad choice up there as it's reportedly a decent bit softer riding than the Ulimtate cf