Matt Willey

Matt Willey

Cycle ClothingFeaturedReviews

Vélobici Verne three-season short sleeve cycling jersey reviewed

Velobici Verne
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Vélobici Verne (Cannon Grey) Short Sleeve Jersey (Spring, Summer, Autumn) £150

Between us, Victoria and I have worn, ridden in and tested more than our fair share of cycling apparel over what has been a very busy inaugural year for Vamper.cc.

Without fail, every brand that has asked us to run our rule over their latest kit has stressed the quality and craftsmanship of the garments they produce.

Some brands you just know will deliver, while some you guess might not. British cycle wear brand Vélobici is definitely the former, delivering high end quality in a league of its own.

Such is the attention to detail, both technically and aesthetically, that it’s hard to draw comparisons – no matter which competitor you pit Vélobici against.

Velobici Verne

The Vélobici Verne (this version in Cannon Grey) is designed as a three-season short sleeve jersey to be worn, alongside layering, throughout spring, summer and autumn.

It conforms to standard race fit, which I found very comfortable in size medium – I’m 6ft and weigh 11st 6lbs.

One point to note on sizing is that front hem of the Verne is cut quite high compared to most jerseys. It’s a classic cut, but if you have a long torso you might find it riding up. It’s worth taking into account when deciding which size to order (or choosing which bib tights from your wardrobe you’ll pair the Verne with.)

The VB/Pro-VR1 fabric used to construct the Verne is 90% Meryl and 10% Lycra. It is heavier gauge than most standard summer jersey fare, giving it a premium feel.

Such is the attention to detail, both technically and aesthetically, that it’s hard to draw comparisons – no matter which competitor you pit Vélobici against.

Vélobici hasn’t strayed into the merino construction that many manufacturers employ for their high-end apparel with the Verne jersey. Instead, they have crafted a garment that feels markedly different to the touch – soft but durable, and incredibly nice to wear.

The Verne has proved to be great at wicking moisture, drying very quickly. It is windproof and provides protection against UVA and UVB sunlight for those long summer days in the saddle.

I’ve worn the Verne several times in a variety of temperatures and weather conditions, from early spring sleet showers to a scorching hot day in late May. On cold days it’s ideal teamed with arm warmers and a base layer, and on hot days it performs well on its own.

Velobici Verne

Technically the Verne is very nicely adorned with a seamless silicone gripper on the sleeve cuffs and hem, detailing I love which ensures everything stays in place.

In Vélobici ‘s Verne jersey you are getting the type of craftsmanship that could see it outlasting you. There is a risk you could be passing this jersey down to your kids – and how many of your other jerseys can you say that about?

It has the Vélobici signature rear four-pocket design, one of which is zipped and waterproof. While I’m on the subject of zips, the VB logo zip pullers are super high quality – they reinforce the level of detail in Vélobici construction. I have a real thing about the quality of the zip on cycle wear; it is a real giveaway about the true quality and workmanship of a garment. This is top notch.

The jersey features a retro font embroidered ‘Verne’ sleeve and embroidered ‘VB’ lettering on the chest. There is Vélobici jacquard on the back and side panels and a black Vélobici reflective top pocket, hem and sleeve cuffs.

However, none of this comes cheap – the Verne cycling jersey is priced at £150. That said, British-made, technically loaded, impeccably finished cycle wear doesn’t come cheap – and nor should it. You’re paying for quality and, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. In Vélobici ‘s Verne jersey you are getting the type of craftsmanship that could see it outlasting you. There is a risk you could be passing this jersey down to your kids – and how many of your other jerseys can you say that about?

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Cycle ClothingFeaturedReviewsWomen's Cycling

Ten of the coolest men’s and women’s cycling jerseys for Summer 2016

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Victoria’s pick of the coolest women’s cycling jerseys:

The sun is out and the mercury is rising. All I can think about is getting out on my bike in the coolest women’s cycling jerseys of 2016. The Vamper.cc kit is, of course, our favourite – more about that here! – but that’s not to say there aren’t a lot of cool kits out there this season. Here’s my pick of the bunch…

Feel free to share your objects of desire in the comments, or tell us on Twitter what you’re lusting over.Cool women's cycling jerseys 2016

Attaquer – Core Brush Women’s Cycling Jersey

The Attaquer Core Brush jersey in teal is vibrant and summery and bold and beautiful. We like the colour and the subtle fade of this graffiti-esque women’s cycle jersey, and from what we’ve seen of Attaquer kit, we’d expect the fabric to be top notch too.

AUS$179.95 – From Attaquer

 

Cool women's cycling jerseys 2016

MAAP – Arrows Women’s Cycling Jersey

The Aussies really know how to do cool cycle kits. Maap’s Arrows women’s cycle jersey is sharp: we like both colourways, but the navy and coral really floats our boat. Properly cool.

AUS$180.00 – From MAAP

 

Cool women's cycling jerseys 2016

Twin Six – The Artcrank Women’s Cycling Jersey

What’s black and white and red all over? The Artcrank women’s cycle jersey from Twin Six. This is not a jersey for the faint hearted, but we think it’s pretty fabulous. A whole peloton in this design might be migraine-inducing, for a solo cyclist, we think this rocks.

US$85.00 – From Twin Six

 

 

Cool women's cycling jerseys 2016

Giro – Chrono Pro Women’s Cycling Jersey

We adore the nebular print of this Giro women’s cycle jersey. What can we say? It’s out of this world. Understated, chic and unusual.

£139.99 – By Giro, from Wiggle

 

Cool women's cycling jerseys 2016

Stolen Goat – Momentum Women’s Cycling Jersey

“Moving effortlessly from one colour to another, this jersey represents our freedom of movement on the bike.” – Well. We’re not sure about that, but we do like the trendy ombre-effect and the bold shades of this women’s cycle jersey from Stolen Goat. Very smart indeed.

£60.00 – From Stolen Goat

Matt’s pick of the coolest men’s cycling jerseys:

 

Velobici Verne

Velobici – Verne (Cannon Grey)

This lightweight short-sleeved three-season number from Leicestershire’s own Velobici had us drooling from the outset. A great colour combination with technical detailing to match, its sartorial credentials are firmly at the forefront. Those in the know will be able to spot your finery from afar and will duly admire.

£150  – From Velobici

 

 

Attaquer – GiroXAttaquer

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Is there any brand on top of their game like Attaquer are right now? If so, we would love to see them. With exquisite collaborations in conjunction with G!ro and Dosnoventa as well as a riotous range of cool cycling jerseys for both men and women, we’d sell our grannies* for pretty much everything they purvey.

*ok, not our grannies. But perhaps our souls.

£89.95 – From Giro Cycles

 

 

La Passione – Summer Diagonal Jersey (Blue)

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A return to true classic lines and hues, this summer offering from La Passione hits the mark in delivering bold shades in a powerful yet understated way. Showy but without bling, this jersey let others know that you know your onions…

£54 – From La Passione

 

 

Rapha.cc – Classic Jersey (Black)

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Sometimes it just has to be black, the unmistakable silhouette that sets off just about any bike. Rapha have nailed it with the Core. The subtle injection of contrast with the white and pink elements are understated and cool. A collection to remind you of the timelessness of cycling.

£110 – From Rapha.cc

 

 

Hunter Bros – Butterfly Jersey

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If you can allay your vehement dislike of flying insects for more than a few hours (yes, Matt – you!) this punchy number from Antipodean apparel artistes Hunter Bros will have you soaring above the crowd. Tell me you see beautiful kit like this in Richmond Park. Go on, tell me. You can’t, can you? Because you don’t. Let’s bring some style from Down Under to London.

AUS$155 – From Hunter Bros

 

FeaturedNewsWomen's Cycling

Pre-registration opens for pro-contract hopefuls in the Zwift Academy project

Canyon//SRAM Zwift AcademyThe program, officially called: The Canyon//SRAM Racing & Zwift Academy Project will also be supported by team partners Rapha, Wahoo Fitness, Zipp and Quarq.
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The Zwift Academy talent identification project in partnership with Canyon//SRAM Racing launches this week with the aim of unearthing new pro cycling talent for the Canyon//SRAM Racing UCI Women’s World Tour team.

The academy program features a three-stage process, aimed at developing riders of all abilities before moving to the business end of identifying 10 finalists who will fight it out for a 2017 pro contract with Canyon//SRAM.

Stage One (Apr­-May) of the Zwift Academy, will deliver three group rides per week for all abilities, across all time zones. Canyon//SRAM Racing pro riders will join these Zwift Academy ‘ride outs’ alongside dedicated ride leaders.

Stage Two (Jun-­Aug) marks the Qualification period for Zwift Academy. All participants will be tasked with taking part in a minimum quantity of Zwift training rides and races, alongside completing a structured training program, beginning with a FTP test. Completion of Stage Two is mandatory and will be open only to amateurs over the age of 16.

“The accessibility of Zwift means we’re giving these riders every chance to get involved, wherever they may be. It’s going to be great to watch as the talent rises through the ranks” – Eric Min

Participants will also be required to upload ride data to Training Peaks & Strava platforms, together with a minimum number of outdoor rides. At the close of this stage, only ten riders will progress to the last round of Academy qualification.

Canyon//SRAM Racing will develop a more hands-­on role for Stage Three (Sep­-Dec) of the program, with mentors assigned to the 10 finalists, who will follow a prescribed training regime with equipment provided from program partners. This training will include both indoor and outdoor riding and be developed to truly test the remaining candidates.

To close out Stage Three and the Zwift Academy, three riders will be chosen to attend the Canyon//SRAM Racing end-­of-­season camp, culminating in the selection of the winning rider by team management.

Zwift Academy Framework

“Already, we’ve received substantial interest from cyclists all over the world. We’re doing something different and Zwift is capturing the imagination of amateur riders who want to perform at the highest level possible,” said Zwift CEO and Co­Founder Eric Min.

“The accessibility of Zwift means we’re giving these riders every chance to get involved, wherever they may be. It’s going to be great to watch as the talent rises through the ranks. We’re confident we’ll develop a new and innovative pathway to become a professional cyclist in the sporting world today,” Min added.

“The path to professional cycling, especially women’s cycling, is far too narrow,” said Canyon//SRAM Racing director Ronny Lauke. “I’m sure that Zwift’s substantial user base is going to yield a great candidate that’ll have as much to offer our team in 2017 as she’ll have to learn!”

Cycle ClothingSportives

Vélobici launches limited-edition cyclewear in support of Ronde NC500

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UK cyclewear specialist Vélobici has announced it is collaborating with Edinburgh-based Ronde Bicycle Outfitters on a 500-mile charity ride by launching a limited edition jersey and cap.

The ride around Scotland’s epic NC500 route is designed to raise money for the Polar Academy, which aims to transform the lives of young people aged between 14 and 18 by providing inspiration through exploration.

Only 50 caps and jerseys will be available for the event, both featuring Vélobici’s quality design and exclusive PB-Pro/VR1 performance fibre fabric.

The four-pocket black short sleeve jersey features yellow detailing, including an embroidered Ronde logo to the chest, NC500 woven badge to the sleeve and a black jacquard Vélobici logo to the shoulders.

The event takes place between the 13 and 17 June, beginning and ending in Inverness, and taking in the northern most tips of Scotland.

Vélobici Owner Chris Puttnam said: “As a stockist of Vélobici, Ronde has always been a big supporter of our brand, so we’re happy to support them with their charity drive by producing an exclusive run of Ronde NC500 caps and jerseys. All proceeds will be donated to the charity and we’ll also be getting in the saddle to join the team on this epic ride around the Scottish coast.”

Riders are invited to join Ronde on the 500 mile cycle around Scotland's NC500
Riders are invited to join Ronde on the 500 mile cycle around Scotland’s NC500

Ben Wallace of Ronde Bicycle Outfitters added: “The route is still largely unknown to riders south of the border, but is set to gain prominence when it features in the new series of Top Gear.”

Record breaking long-distance cyclist Mark Beaumont, also completed an epic ride of the NC500 last autumn when he cycled the entire route non-stop in 37 hours.

“We’ll be taking on the challenge at a slower pace than Beaumont, taking in 100 miles a day on the five-day tour, and are looking for riders to join us,” Wallace added. It is a great opportunity for people haven’t cycled in Scotland before and are looking to take on a new challenge and experience to the backdrop of spectacular scenery. Space is limited to just 25 rider, so we are encouraging anyone who is interested to get in touch to secure their place.”

For more details on taking part in the Ronde NC500 visit http://rondebike.com/2016/03/ronde-on-the-road/ or call 0131 260 9888 to book a place.

 

News

Zwift announces Strava challenge for a chance to win a Tour de France trip

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In celebration of the upcoming 103rd Tour de France, Zwift, the indoor virtual cycling platform, has partnered with Thomson Bike Tours and created the #ThompsonZwiftChallenge.

One lucky winner will be sent to climb the iconic mountains of the French Alps and will watch the thrilling racing action of the Tour de France final week.

The winner will also receive a free one-year subscription to Zwift to help them train.

All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is join the Thomson Bike Tours Strava Club and post a 103 km ride on Strava any day in March with #ThomsonZwiftChallenge in the title.

Riders can complete the ride outdoors or indoors with Zwift riders counting.

Check out http://challenge.thomsonbiketours.com/ for full details and complete Terms and Conditions.

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NewsSportives

Ride with the pros as Zwift & Amgen Tour of California announce partnership

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Z​wift has confirmed it will be partnering with the Amgen Tour of California in the months leading up to North America’s premier professional cycling race.

As part of their partnership agreement Zwift will host regular group rides in their virtual cycling world featuring past and present competitors that have had noteworthy performances in the Amgen Tour of California.

The first of these special rides will feature Laurens Ten Dam from Team Giant­Alpecin and will begin today (January 27th) at 5:00 PM PST / 7:00 PM CST / 8:00 PM EST – that’s 03:00 G.M.T if you want to set your alarm in the UK.

This ride will be hosted at Zwift’s headquarters in Long Beach, California, not far from past finishes of the Amgen Tour of California and will be emceed by longtime Amgen Tour of California commentator and cycling expert, Dave Towle.

Towle will be discussing professional cycling with Ten Dam as he rides as well as asking questions submitted by users via the Twitter hashtag #ASKLTD.

his event will also see the debut of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California virtual cycling kit. Zwift will announce the promo code on the day of the ride which will allow users to unlock this kit for their in­game avatars. Participating cyclist avatars must wear the kit during the ride.

“The Amgen Tour of California represents the best of American cycling,” said Zwift Events VP Charlie Issendorf. “However, not everyone can be on roadside in California when the race happens. Zwift allows them the chance to take part in the US’ biggest contribution to the sport of professional cycling.”

“We are delighted to once again partner with Zwift to share and promote their groundbreaking technology and programs with our fans,” added Kristin Klein, President, Amgen Tour of California.

“There is nothing more exciting than participating as a rider or fan in the Amgen Tour of California and, no matter where you are, or what the weather is, Zwift will deliver that excitement to fans all around the world.”

More details on the Amgen Tour of California ride with Laurens Ten Dam and subsequent rides can be found on Zwift’s Facebook Events page.

NewsWomen's Cycling

Fierlan announced as headline sponsor of Fusion RT Fierlan cycle team for 2016

Fusion RT Fierlan
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British women’s cycling brand Fierlan has been unveiled as the lead sponsor of the Fusion RT team. The headline sponsorship deal sees the team renamed Fusion RT Fierlan for the upcoming season.

Fierlan Director Lucy Gardner said: “When we were approached by Fusion RT with the possibility of a partnership we knew we had to make it happen. Sponsoring a trade team has always been on our dream list and we were thrilled to achieve this goal so quickly.

“The Fusion women are incredibly talented and dedicated to their team. We’re looking forward to utilising their racing expertise and experience to help us develop and evolve our women’s cycling collection and of course we love the possibility of seeing our kit on the podium,” Gardner added.

Fusion RT Ras na mBan
Fusion RT winning the Team prize at Ras na mBan, Ireland 2015

2016 Roster:

The strong backbone of the successful 2015 Fusion RT team returns in the form of Team Captain Jenny Hudson, who produced a number of top 15 places for the team in 2015, and Eleanor Campbell, now in her third year with Fusion.

Sophie Faulkner, a team member for the past three seasons also returns for another year.

Fusion RT Fierlan welcome back time trialist Elizabeth Malins after a year off in 2015 to have her first child and Elizabeth Stedman returns after joining the team last year following her excellent finish in the The Holme Valley 2-day, achieving great results for the team finishing 10th in stage three at the Ras na Mban last year and 4th at Oakley RR.

The team also welcomes four new riders for the 2016 season: Ashleigh Fraser, Angela Hibbs, Fiona Hunter-Johnson and Jenny Holden.

Team Manager Terry Williamson said: “Looking back at last year I see how Fusion RT have gone from strength to strength.  They have worked incredibly hard and the results seen are down to a superb team effort by everyone.  Winning the Team Prize at Ras na mBan was indicative of how the team works well together and was an absolutely great way to finish last season.  I am immensely proud of the team and am looking forward to the 2016 season.”

Cycle ClothingReviewsWomen's Cycling

Rivelo winter jackets prove a great fit: style and performance in perfect harmony

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We met the wonderfully talented and energetic Tara, who heads up the Rivelo team, back in November. Over a pint in one of Surbiton’s most welcoming hostelries we heard all about this new British brand’s origins, aims and design direction and cast our eyes over the new Rivelo winter cycling jackets.

Fast-forward one action-packed Christmas period spent travelling 1000 miles around the country, Northern floods, a house purchase and subsequent move… A couple of months later and we are finally ready to commit to paper our thoughts on the Rivelo kit.

We have put the Rivelo winter cycling jackets through their paces several times over the past two months: they have been dealt a fair array of weather (most of it wet). It has been with us on our final commutes from our old flat, and it’s now being worn on recces of our new cycling ‘hood’ in Ashford (Surrey, not Kent). The bib tights even managed an outing on the turbo trainer, though it’s safe to say indoor training does not require thermoroubaix protection for the legs.

So with all that in mind, it’s high time we shared our thoughts on Rivelo’s latest offering.

Matt: the Rivelo Garsdale Jacket

I’ve been riding in the Rivelo Garsdale Jacket for a good few weeks in a range of conditions and with a combination of bibs and jerseys from other manufacturers. It has quickly become a staple in my cycling wardrobe: when the temperature drops or if it threatens rain, it’s off the hanger and on my back.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Garsdale

Performance

At its heart the Rivelo Garsdale cycling jacket is a warm yet breathable, waterproof and windproof winter jacket that should keep you in the saddle no matter what the British weather throws at you.

It is constructed from Schoeller C-Change softshell fabric that delivers a garment that helps keep your core at a comfortable temperature whatever the barometer says. It maintains a good level of air circulation without draughts.

It repels water magnificently, to 10,000mm (I do like to keep those of you waterproof fetishists happy); beading rain simply runs off the jacket – or flies off, depending on how quickly you are riding.

It is also oil and dirt repellent, features that have been thoroughly tested over the weeks we have been riding the Rivelo kit. There has been little that hasn’t just wiped off rather than submitting the Garsdale to another wash cycle.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Garsdale

Appearance

What if cycling jackets could look good off the bike… but not in that “urban cycling” kind of way?

What if cycling wear had edgier design that didn’t compromise its performance?

Well, it can: the Rivelo Garsdale jacket delivers both of those things.

Think stealth…

Leaving performance out the equation for a second, on a purely aesthetic level the Garsdale is a thing of beauty. On the body the fit is exemplary. The detailing, especially in the arms, is superb. The asymmetric finish to the cuffs is an especially neat touch and one that I feel I wouldn’t want to be without on any future jacket – it allows a glove to fit perfectly underneath.

The race fit of the Garsdale jacket is just right for me: not too roomy, but not overly restrictive. I have been wearing a medium: at 6ft and 165lbs, I have a full range of movement across the chest and arms.

 

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Garsdale

There are two small changes I would make to the jacket: one, the front of the jacket could stand to be an inch longer. That would (for me) make it nigh on perfect and would increase its off-bike wearability, although when we are discussing performance cycling apparel, it’s something of a moot point. And two, I would prefer the neck to be a little higher; for a winter jacket, it doesn’t offer a great deal of protection around the neck and an extra half inch would be nice.

Design Features

The Garsdale features under arm venting, which maintains a good level of airflow around the jacket. The seams are fully taped increasing its water resistant capabilities. The arms feature a double cuff system, an elasticated inner cuff, to prevent drafts and water ingress and then a second asymmetric cuff that extends over the wrists.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Garsdale

The back of the jacket houses three deep pockets, one of which has a zipped outer area. There is a beaded reflective vertical stripe to improve visibility from the rear. There is also a front chest zip pocket that provides easy-access storage for keys and cards etc.

All the zips are high quality and thus far have proved snag free. They hold up well in bad weather conditions, too.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Garsdale

Would I buy it?

Without a doubt.

This is quality performance bike wear with an edge. Its points of difference may seem subtle to some, but when you wear this out on actual rides they become glaringly obvious.

Those minor niggles you might have about your other jackets have all been dealt with here. It is cycling apparel that just works and, more to the point, looks damn good doing it. It is well crafted, well designed and the Rivelo winter cycling jackets are really well priced right now – the Garsdale jacket is currently available for £99 at Sport Pursuit.

 

Victoria: Rivelo Larkstone Women’s Jacket

I’ve been testing the Rivelo Women’s Larkstone Jacket, a sleek wind and rain-resistant layer.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Larkstone

Performance

Made from British Porelle Dry membrane fabric, this jacket is high performance. Its fully taped seams contribute to the garment’s 15,000mm waterproof rating – and as any British cyclist knows, this winter has made waterproofing oneself vital.

Despite its highly technical credentials, the Larkstone jacket folds down to a super compact state which could, at a push, be stored in a back pocket if the weather took a turn for the better.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Larkstone

 

Appearance

I may be serious about cycling, but I’m also serious about wanting to look like myself: I don’t want to sacrifice style for performance.

And this jacket doesn’t force you to make that choice: it is such a flattering piece of kit. The cut of Rivelo cycle clothing is true to standard British High Street sizing, unlike continental brands such as Castelli which are notoriously small. Rivelo’s size Medium fits my 5’8”, size 12 build very well. It is clearly designed by someone who understands women’s bodies, and it’s a pleasure to zip this jacket up: it feels really surprisingly elegant for a piece of sportswear.

I love this lustrous shade of navy blue and the red accents are a lovely, classic match. It’s an understated jacket which, while feminine in cut, is not girly or twee in design.

Tara has really managed to combine aesthetics with high performance in the Rivelo Women’s Larkstone Jacket.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Larkstone

 

Design features

There are some clever design features in the Rivelo Women’s Larkstone Jacket. There are no unwelcome breast pockets, which are just awkward on a women’s jacket. I don’t want to fumble about with my boobs to reach my credit card. Instead, there is a neat front pocket by the hipbone to hold a credit card, change, or keys.

My problem with a lot of rain jackets is that their hard shell construction means they are rather baggy to allow movement. This is a rain jacket, but the fabric stretches. Protection from the elements without sacrificing either silhouette or aerodynamics? Perfect.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Larkstone

The sleeves are brilliant. They are long, well fitted without being restrictive, and have a lovely stretchy, soft inner cuff which stops draughts and moisture at the wrist.

I’ve mentioned the top notch fit: the sleek look is helped along by the impeccable flat, fully taped seams which serve the fairly integral function of waterproofing as well as contributing to a streamlined profile.

The jacket only has one back pocket. This puzzled me a bit at first: I’d normally expect at least two, and maybe three. However, it’s actually another nifty feature: the back vent, which is positioned directly above the pocket, allows easy access to your jersey pockets. So, if you take off your jacket, there’s no need to empty all your pockets. Clever! What’s more, the rear pocket has a reflective strip which is convenient positioning: it wasn’t obscured by my rucksack.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Larkstone
The reflective panel on the rear pocket shines really brightly – and is still visible when I’m wearing my small commuter rucksack.

Any cons?

Now, this is a rain jacket, so of course, it will make you sweat when you’re working hard. There’s no escaping the fact that keeping water out will also keep some moisture in. For that reason, I wouldn’t wear it without a wicking, long sleeved layer underneath because otherwise there is a slightly clammy feeling. (Particularly as I’m an especially sweaty sort). It certainly doesn’t make me feel like a boil in the bag kipper, though, unlike some other lightweight waterproofs I’ve tried. And the areas that typically do come into contact with bare skin have been considered: the neck has been lined with soft fleece for comfort while the double layered cuffs are soft and warm, not cold and damp.

 

Would I buy it?

Yes, absolutely. It’s a smart, well cut jacket which performs brilliantly in wet, windy weather. It’s been particularly good this winter, which has been particularly wet and windy… What’s more, I love the colour. I’ll happily carry it around in my rucksack in case the weather takes a turn for the worse, too – I’m impressed by how lightweight it is.

I’d recommend snapping up one of the Rivelo winter cycling jackets while they’re on offer at £59.99 – I seriously don’t think you’ll find a better jacket for the price, and even at the full RRP of £130 I think it represents great value for money. The Larkstone women’s jacket has won me over.

 

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Featured

Pastries with Paolo Bettini, this year’s ‘Legend’ of the Tour Down Under

Paolo Bettini
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Article by: James Raison from The Lead

Paolo Bettini is all smiles as he talks to the cameras in Adelaide just before the start of the Tour Down Under.

“Adelaide is a very beautiful town and I have discovered many fans in Australia,” he says from the heart of the capital city of South Australia

He joins an exclusive club of men invited in previous years to be the “Legend” at the Tour Down Under. Other include Greg LeMond, Sir Chris Hoy, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Anna Meares, and Cadel Evans.

How does Paolo feel about joining that club?

“It’s new, fantastic, it’s a pleasure,” he beams.

After the formal media work is done, we got a chance to sit down over some pastries for a chat.

“The modern cycling mentality isn’t the same. It’s shown the courage to change. Other sports haven’t got the courage to change. – Paolo Bettini

The topic quickly turns to the only time he’s raced in Australia: the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

“[It was] confusion. It was a big experience, as a 26 year old. In my team I have Michele Bartoli, Marco Pantani, I was the young rider. I worked all day, in all of the attacks.”

Paolo’s nickname during his career was “Il Grillo”, which translates to The Cricket.

He laughs at the name.

“This is because of the Italian journalists,” he says. “In the peloton I always go front, rear, front, rear, in my attacks.”

So the name was very appropriate?

“It’s perfect for my characteristic” he nods.

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Paolo Bettini talking to Italian Oscar Gatto of Tinkoff

The topic turns to the failed Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso’s cycling project. Paolo left his job as the Italian national coach to take on a coaching role with Alonso.

Despite the project failing, Paolo believes in the business model Alonso planned to use.

“I think all big teams of the sport, have to invest in other sport, not just one sport but in others to increase growth,” he says.

Intense rumours surrounded the Alonso project, Paolo was asked which riders they were targeting.

“No, no,” he laughs, clearly expecting the question. “Big riders!”

The next topic changes Paolo’s mood. He shifts uncomfortably, and reverts to Italian more than English.

Does he think the current cycling world is clean?

“It is impossible to confirm all [riders are] clean, but they are working hard to change the mentality,” he insists. “The modern cycling mentality isn’t the same. It’s shown the courage to change. Other sports haven’t got the courage to change.”

Paolo saw many friends and teammates disgraced for doping, something that clearly still hurts him.

“They all felt at fault when someone else got caught, whether a friend or team mate. They all took the blame.”

Paolo’s discomfort talking about doping is replaced by sadness as he’s asked about legendary Italian climber Marco Pantani, who died of heart failure caused by cocaine in 2004.

“Pantani’s history is most difficult to talk about. It wasn’t a problem with the sport, but it was a life problem. Marco had big problems in the cycling world and in his personal life when he left cycling.”

“On the bike he’s very strong, off the bike he was very weak.”

Paolo, like many others close to Pantani, still struggles to talk about the great man.

His mood lifts as conversation turns to modern riders. Without prompting he starts talking animatedly about road race world champion Peter Sagan.

“He is an artist. He is a big personality. He’s very good for people to watch because he’s very happy. Peter was strong, now he’s won a big race.”

The conversation winds down because Paolo has to get ready for the annual Legends Night black tie dinner at the Adelaide Convention Centre, a very hot ticket on the South Australian social scene.

From enjoying a pastry with Paolo, it was obvious how much he loves cycling, how hard it was riding during an era plagued by scandal, and how worthy he is of legend status.

Paolo Bettini’s biggest victories:

  • Tour de France: 1 stage victory
  • Giro d’Italia Points Classification (2005, 2006) & 2 stage voctories
  • Vuelta Espana: 5 stage victories
  • Road Race World Championship (2006, 2007)
  • Olympic Road Race (2004)
  • Liege Bastogne Liege (2000, 2002)
  • Milan-San Remo (2003)
  • Giro Di Lombardia (2005, 2006)
  • Classica San Sebastian (2003)
Featured

Brian Cookson on the possibility of a world tour without ASO

Brian Cookson UCI President
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Brian Cookson, President of the Union Cycliste Iternationale (UCI) fronted the media during the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, South Australia.

He faced a barrage of questions about the well-documented ASO move to withdraw their races from the UCI WorldTour in 2017, removing 27 races including the Tour De France, Vuelta Espana, Paris-Roubaix, and Creterium du Dauphine.

“I’m not about to enter into a war with ASO,” Cookson said. “The UCI has been down that road before, we’ve spent the last two years talking intensively with the ASO and other stakeholders.”

Make no mistake, this is a war of power and diplomacy. A Cold War between the world’s biggest cycling organization, and the world’s biggest race organizer.

Withdrawing their events from the WorldTour reduces ASO races to Hors Categorie (HC) status, which gives them total control over inviting teams. HC classification means a maximum of 70% of teams in the race can be WorldTour, but ASO can choose to invite fewer. The Tour de France has 22 spots, meaning only 15 of 18 WorldTour teams can race.

Without guaranteed entry to ASO races, WorldTour teams are uncertain of their racing program, weakening their positions securing sponsorship, something that is already a major issue.

Cookson is understandably careful about his wording. The UCI needs ASO events more than ASO needs the UCI. The WorldTour is significantly weakened without ASO races.

The tension focuses on proposed three-year licenses, something Cookson believes needs to be reviewed.

“It’s not a big deal, they still have to be assessed on an annual basis, for economic viability, for ethical criteria, and for sporting criteria as well. I don’t think this is a big deal, but it’s clearly been something that ASO have been threatened by,” he said.

Cookson believes there are advantages to extending licenses to three-years.

“We’re trying to encourage teams to have greater financial stability. The message we’ve been getting loud and clear is that one-year [licenses] are a recipe for instability and weakness for the teams,” he said.

But ASO wants more discretion over who they invite to their races. Three-year licenses mean less control for them.

The UCI-ASO split hurts cycling fans as well. What relevance does the UCI WorldTour have without ASO races?

“I think it’s not impossible to run the world tour without ASO’s events,” claims Cookson, “but of course they are some of the biggest and best events. So it’s regrettable that they would not be part of it, and we do want them to be part of it.”

Cookson says the childish response of the ASO helps no one.

“I think the ‘I’m going to take my football home with me because I don’t like how you’re playing the game’ approach is not helpful to anybody,” he said.

He’s right. While the UCI and ASO tug-of-war continues the victims are the teams, the riders and the fans.

Cycling TipsFeatured

Sh*t mechanics say: Behind the scenes of the service course at the Tour Down Under

service course washing
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Article by: James Raison from The Lead, Photos by: Chris Komorek, EcoCaddy

James Raison talks baby wipes, infinite cassettes, and dishwashing detergent with the Tour Down Under mechanics at the cycling village that has sprung up in the middle of Adelaide, South Australia.

“I’ve never worn out a cassette.”

Mechanic “Brownie” has my undivided attention as he scrubs down one of Katusha’s gorgeous Canyon bikes; its rider Tiago Machado hovers nearby.

You’ve never worn out a cassette, Brownie?

“Nope. I have 3 chains. Every Friday I change the chain. I take it off, clean it, and put on one of the others, and I’ve never worn out a cassette.”

Brownie’s making a big claim, but if there’s no friction, it could last a long time. Could it last forever?

“I use baby wipes on everything, frame, drivetrain, wheels. After every ride I hold a baby wipe over the chain and just turn the cranks.”

I wander down the line of mechanics, past hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of pro bikes. I stop and chat to “Nashy,” who’s cleaning some strikingly green Cannondales, to get his thoughts on Brownie’s bold claim.

“Ahhhh Brownie!” he shouts down the line, “you don’t wear out your gears because you don’t do enough kays (kilometres) mate!”

I love the service course.

Brownie Katusha Machado
Tiago Machado makes sure Brownie doesn’t miss a spot

Mechanics furiously scrubbing, de-greasing, spinning frames on their service stands, standing in soapy mud, and always shouting jovially to each other.

The rapid clicking of gears, clanging of freewheel ratchets as they engage, and the explosive noise of air compressors drying the bikes inside the tents.

You see things here you won’t see anywhere else.

Earlier I saw riders stream back in from the end of today’s stage, a hot and dusty outing in the South Australian sun. They’re wearing backpacks, gilets in the summer heat, some have torn kits from crashing. They shove each other playfully, pretend to run into their mechanics, pick up the hoses and spray their team assistants, and dive into tubs of pasta covered with grated cheese.

Because teams usually bring one or two mechanics from home and then draft in locals to save some costs there is a melting pot of accents and languages.

Cipollini service course
John’s Cipollini smells fresh – his tip is good

I carefully pick my way through the carbon jungle to John, Lotto-Soudal’s Adelaide-born mechanic and ask for his pro tip:

“Baby wipes,” he says. Baby wipes? “Yep, baby wipes.”

John points to his immaculate Cipollini RB1K sitting nearby, as Adam Hansen’s Ridley sits on his service stand.

“I use baby wipes on everything, frame, drivetrain, wheels. After every ride I hold a baby wipe over the chain and just turn the cranks.”

What’s John’s preferred baby wipe?

“Johnson & Johnson” he answers quickly, “I dunno, I think it’s the oils in it.”

John Lotto-Soudal
John working hard on the Lotto-Soudal bikes

I wander over and inspect his bike. Story checks out: gleaming. I make a note for next time I go shopping.

Alex at Giant-Alpecin ponders my request for a pro tip carefully, surprised that a journalist is even in the filthy service course.

“Just the regular stuff, really” he shrugs. Behind him I spot the scoop I’ve been looking for: Fairy dishwashing liquid.

There has been an explosion in bike cleaning products over recent years, but the pro peloton runs on ordinary dishwashing detergent. Bottles of green and yellow Fairy are at every cleaning station. I wander back to Alex. Surely dishwashing detergent isn’t good for bikes?

“It’s fine. We just wash it down with water afterwards. No worries.”

The answer was in our kitchens all along.

Fairy Liquid
Good enough for the pros, good enough for us

I notice Francaise Des Jeux (FDJ) mechanic, Nick, standing idle by a rack conspicuously empty of Lapierres.

Nick has a hard job, FDJ have that most oh-so-pro touch on their bikes: white bar tape. How does he keep them looking new every day?

“Morgan blue chain cleaner in a bit of water. Then you just use a sponge. A clean sponge obviously!”

Great tip. I’m sticking with black tape though, ain’t no-one got time for that.

I run Brownie’s claim by Nick. He coughs into his hand with a clearly audible “bullshit!”

If you are ever lucky enough to go behind the scenes at a bike race, spend some time in the service course. Have a chat to the mechanics too. Those clean, shiny bikes, gleaming kits, and silent drivetrains are all thanks to their hard work. As they say, a clean bike is a fast bike.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to stock up on Fairy and baby wipes.

Featured

Post-race recovery with Trek-Segrafedo: Behind the scenes at the Tour Down Under

Food & Recovery (11 of 40)Post -race recover with Trek-Segafredo
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Article by: Chris Komorek from The Lead, Twitter: @c_komz

As the Trek-Segafredo riders roll back into the Tour Down Under village in the middle of Adelaide from a scorching hot stage on the roads of South Australia, there’s one factor that sets them apart from their competitors. It’s a shallow, wading pool – suitable for ages 6 months to 3 years, a sticker warns on the side. It’s the kind of pool you’d expect to see your two-and-half-year-old cousin splashing around in with rubber duckies, not elite cyclists.

No rubber duckies here though. Just ice cold water. The whales, jellyfish, turtles and starfish decorating the edges are a nice touch, but no one was being fooled into thinking this was going to be fun.

“Ice plunge baths are something I’ve done in the past and something I want to introduce more regularly,” says Daniel Green, Trek-Segrafedo’s head of sport science and assistant team manager. Ice baths are important for recovery and most pro-teams have them in place. In fact, Orica-Greenedge upgraded their hotel room to one with a bathtub.

Peter Stetina and Kiel Reijnen, the team’s American contingent, are the first to take the plunge. Reijnen eases in gingerly ­– partly so he doesn’t tear the sides of the pool and partly because it’s a shock to the core.

“What, where is everyone? No one else is coming in?” Reijnen asks as his teammates begin to head back to the hotel just across the street.

He then starts discussing the Corkscrew descent, a legendary ride amongst the growing peloton of riders in South Australia.

“That was intense,” he says. “I didn’t enjoy that one bit.”

The average speed of the peloton on the descent from atop Corkscrew was 104.9km per hour. At that speed, you’re tightening your grip and adjusting your posture… in a car. These guys are doing it on two wheels, the wind ripping through their hair and the corners approaching rapidly.

When Dutch cyclist Boy Van Poppel returns to the village, he, like everyone else, hits the scales to record his post-race weight.

“You’re looking good,” Green says as he scribbles down Poppel’s weight.

“We (get them on the scales) to check their pre and post hydration status. We look at how much weight they have lost on the stage just through sweating, and we try to get that replaced as soon as we can and most certainly before bed,” says Green.

trek-segafredo recovery

Van Poppel’s heart rate drops from around 90 to 60 bpm as soon as he enters the ice bath. Lowering the heart rate and making sure each cyclist is relaxed is an essential part of recovery.

Green says potential weight loss over an entire stage is dependant on a lot of factors.

“It can vary greatly between individuals and even between days. Some riders will be able to hydrate more than others and return pretty balanced, whereas others might be 3.5kg down on where they started.”

In hot and humid conditions, such as found in South Australia during the 2016 Tour Down Under, the riders are likely to lose 2.5L in perspiration every hour. In a three and a half hour race, that’s around a total of 8.5L of water loss.

Green says they’ll drink as much as they can while riding, which is usually around 1 litre per hour, but even that won’t balance it out.

“Drinking one litre per hour can still leave you three to four litres down post race, so it’s important we get their weight pre and post race to get the rehydration right,” he says.

Sure, people have died from drinking too much water in a short time but those people were certainly not elite athletes riding hundreds of kilometres in searing heat.

So do the elite athletes competing in the hot South Australian sun at the Tour Down Under ever hit the limit of what is humanly possible?

“Probably not,” says Green, “Your body is able to rehydrate pretty quickly with fluid, if anything, it’s more limited in terms of the amount of carbohydrates and electrolytes that can actually be absorbed from supplements. Our supplements are purposely watered down so it doesn’t have a huge impact on their bodies.”

For us average, non-elite cyclist folk, to consume 1L of water per hour would probably find us making trips to the bathroom more frequently. But is that due to something colloquially known as “breaking the seal”? And do the cyclists experience that constant need to relieve themselves when drinking that much water?

“Breaking the seal definitely exists,” says Green. “When you drink a lot, your bladder fills up gradually and when you ‘break the seal’ your body, which is suddenly holding all this liquid, begins to continually fill up and it tricks you into thinking there’s more than what there actually is.”

Riders who need to relieve themselves, they put their hand up and they stop by the side of the road. It’s a simple solution to a natural urge, and one that the riders engage regularly.

Trek-Segafredo Recovery Tour Down Under

Ice-baths are, in Green’s eyes, imperative for short-term recovery. However when it comes to post-tour recovery, it takes more than just ice to set the riders right.

“At the end we look at getting the hormone levels balanced, but the most important aspect of recovery is physical down time and a regaining a regular sleeping pattern,” says Green.

A regular sleeping pattern? Obviously we asked what mischief the riders get up to every night on tour.

“I refrain from calling myself the ‘Team Dad’ because I don’t want to be that guy,” says Green, adding that the riders don’t have a set time to sleep, but they do have a meeting time in the morning.

“That’s an 8am breakfast call. So as long as they’re then, that’s fine with me. A bedtime story is not out of the question though,” jokes Green.

Trek-Segafredo Recovery

Featured

Gerrans goes back-to-back to stretch lead at the Santos Tour Down Under

wstage4bSimon Gerrans takes his second victory in as many days at the Tour Down Under in South Australia
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Article by: James Raison from The Lead,

Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) has taken his second victory in as many days at the Tour Down Under in South Australia, out-sprinting Ben Swift (SKY), and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo). His lead has now stretched to 13 seconds.

“He’s got this race by the scruff of the neck,” said Robbie McEwan after the stage.

Stage 4 of the TDU left the suburban Norwood Parade café and shopping strip 3km east of Adelaide, heading across the Fleurieu to the seaside town of Victor Harbor, 80km south of the capital of South Australia.

Orica-GreenEdge shut down all attacks until the first hotly-contested sprint point taken by the expertly led-out race leader of Simon Gerrans over former race leader Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) and Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEdge).

Three riders broke clear soon after, with Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Patrick Shaw (UniSA), and David Tanner (IAM Cycling) stretching their lead to nearly four minutes ahead of the Orica GreenEdge led peloton behind.

Then 50km from the finish the teams began organising for the final chase.

Patrick Shaw took the next sprint point, over an indifferent Gougeard, and Tanner shaking his head at the unnecessary attack crossed third. They were returned to the peloton at the start of the Crows Nest Climb.

BMC’s Danilo Wyss applied the pressure on the Crows Nest Road climb, a steady stream of riders dropping off the back. Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEdge) ushered race-leader Gerrans up the side of the bunch, shadowed by second placeman Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff). Impey found himself leading the climb soon after.

Richie Porte (BMC) attacked, followed by climber’s jersey wearer Sergio Henao (SKY) who took the KOM points.

[dvgallery id=”2657″ vertical=”no”]

Only 50 riders remained in the front group after the climb. A crash at the back of the leading bunch reduced that number again. Julien Arredondo (Trek-Segafredo) had to pick himself up off the road for the second stage in a row.

Lieuwe Westra (Astana) mounted a brief attack with 10km to go but returned to the bunch soon after. Team SKY, again, lined up on the front of the stage inside the last 10km, as they have almost every stage.

SKY led into the stretch with their man Ben Swift perfectly placed. Impey, again, pulled Gerrans into a textbook position, peeling off as the sprint began. Gerrans was patient, appearing to easily gap Swift and Nizzolo. He raised his fists in victory as the men following him desperately threw their bikes at the line. McCarthy crossed the line fourth, holding onto second overall.

“They’re really making my life as easy as possible,” Gerrans said of his team after the race.

With two more stages, including Old Willunga Hill in the famous McLaren Vale wine region, he’s well aware that the race isn’t over yet though.

“I still have to be very attentive. There’s still a heck of a lot of work to be done,” he said.

But McEwan said he “can’t see him losing the race from here”.

Tomorrow’s queen stage leaves from McLaren Vale, 40km south of Adelaide, finishing after two ascents of Old Willunga Hill, a place where Gerrans launched a race winning attack two years ago.

Defending champ Rohan Dennis (BMC) has already laid out his plan to “try to isolate him [Gerrans]” on the first climb. Then “it’s a cross wind leading into Willunga after that so tactics are going to play a big part of tomorrow, then just pure guts.”

What were they thinking?

At this point it’s clear the SKY boys have all their eggs in the wrong basket. The SKY train has been at the front of the race for Ben Swift in the final kilometres of three stages, and the pre-race People’s Choice classic criterium, but with no results. Meanwhile Sergio Henao is fourth overall, 28 seconds down, but the Columbian climber could conceivably rise to second with a strong performance tomorrow. Time to throw everything behind your Columbian sensation.

FeaturedNewsWomen's Cycling

Canyon//SRAM unveils Zwift Academy concept to uncover raw talent in women’s cycling

Canyon//SRAM Zwift
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We appear to be in the midst of a golden period for women’s cycling: the emergence of the Canyon//SRAM team and its subsequent partnership with Rapha has shone a light on women’s road cycling in a way we haven’t really seen before.

In an effort to consolidate on this groundswell of support for the team and to harness the unprecedented interest in women’s cycling, Canyon//SRAM Racing has today announced an ambitious partnership with Zwift, the social fitness platform for cyclists.

During a live virtual group ride with Zwift users, Canyon//SRAM Racing rider Tiffany Cromwell declared the race was on to find a 2017 team mate, who would be identified, developed and launched into the pro peloton by her team & Zwift.

From March 2016, female amateur riders from all corners of the world will be invited to try out for a professional contract by riding Zwift in a winner takes all talent contest, more akin to Saturday night prime time television than the sometimes antiquated world of pro cycling.

“Unfortunately the development pathways for female riders don’t compare to the men’s side of the sport,” said Cromwell.

“But rather than swim against the tide, we’re taking the bull by the horns and shaking things up with Zwift. Cycling’s stars possess extraordinary physical attributes and we’re confident one or two of those rough diamonds are out there to be unearthed on the Zwift platform.”

Canyon//SRAM Zwift Academy
The program, officially called: The Canyon//SRAM Racing & Zwift Academy Project will also be supported by team partners Rapha, Wahoo Fitness, Zipp and Quarq.

Zwift and Canyon//SRAM performance staff are currently developing an initial series of tasks, likely to comprise of group rides and structured training programmes, to identify the physical attributes and potential of riders who enter the programme. The field will be reduced throughout 2016 until a final selection of three riders will compete on virtual and real roads for the opportunity to become a pro rider in 2017.

“This isn’t a marketing gimmick. Zwift is a global, reliable and data-driven platform,” offers Zwift CEO, Eric Min.

“We’re truly accessible and, with tens of thousands of users, we’re confident we can be a development platform for professional cycling. We’ve been working on a similar concept for some time so we were blown away when Canyon//SRAM Racing Director Ronny Lauke suggested it to us.”

“The world is full of young cyclists with raw talent that we may not be noticing,” added Lauke.

“That’s a huge problem for the sport and we want to challenge this as much as possible. Of course, there are other criteria to becoming a pro cyclist, like attitude, bike handling and a good tactical brain, but without an exceptional engine you won’t get too far. This is going to be an exciting adventure with Zwift.”

“With this team’s set of partners, anything is possible. I’m sure we’re about to see a truly unique story here, within the sport, as it springs from a disruptive, exciting program,” said Canyon Chief Brand Officer Frank Aldorf.

“Such a technology driven experience is a great match for our Canyon DNA and I am sure we will all be blown away by the talent it uncovers.”

“This program with Zwift and the Canyon//SRAM Racing team is a brilliant blend of technology and talent spotting. It’s one way to give young riders an opportunity that may have been overlooked before,” concluded SRAM Road Brand Director Christopher Zigmont.

The program, officially called: The Canyon//SRAM Racing & Zwift Academy Project will also be supported by team partners Rapha, Wahoo Fitness, Zipp and Quarq.