New to Road Bikes
I am not the one to ask, because I am also just getting started. But I saw your thread and thought I would share some thoughts.
I would not buy new, myself. I am perhaps a bit anti-new, anti-materialistic (at least when it comes to the newer high-end[read, high-priced] models. I have purchased a few bikes on Craigslist.com (Bianchi, Lemond Tourmalet, Bidgestone 400), and have started to restore older bikes (Schwinn Super Le Tour, Paramount). I have been having a blast. I hope to get out and ride them more often than once weekly, you really have to make a commitment to do it, and I am working on it.
So what I have done is to buy older bikes, learn how to repair them (read: "Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance"), and see what kind of newer bike you might want to end up with. This will help you understand the mechanics, the sizing, the feel, and make sure you end up enjoying this quite honorable form of exercise/transporation/recreation.
I hear too many stories of people buying high-end bikes, and then storing them for years after a couple of rides. Now, I am not saying you would do so, but entering the field in the used department will certainly help you to better appreciate and understand the advantages of the newer model, once you end up with it. It will also help to cement the passion into your soul, so that the pressures of daily living out there will not derail you from you path.
These are just some random thoughts, I hope it helps. Good luck.