Look at the Cannondale CAAD10 105 groupset, which runs about $1,500. I'm looking for a new bike and have done quite a bit of research. Seems like you can't beat the CAAD10 for quality at that price. The aluminum frame is a nice one (and light) and considerably cheaper than carbon. If you are willing to spend a bit more on the Ultegra components, more power to you. That will be a nice bike as far as I can tell. I'm going to test ride a couple this weekend.
I may go the extra for ultegra parts, but will the caad10 be ok for anything from rough rocks/mountain biking and snow to taking part in road based time trials when I get fit enough. By the way, we spend in pounds rather than dollas so not sure if prices vary that much.
Thats ok, I will still mountain bike on it. If I can hike ben nevis in trainers (designed for the road also) then its fair to say I can try it on a road bike. I will give anything a go so long as its reliable.