Stitch in time ‘S

Cyclist - - Insider - Words STU BOW­ERS Pho­tog­ra­phy FRED MACGREGOR

ome­times, a new fab­ric will lead us to a new idea,’ says Steve Smith, brand man­ager for Ital­ian cloth­ing com­pany Castelli. ‘The de­sign­ers will take the lead on the process and a lot of cool stuff can come about in this way. But some­times we like to start with a prob­lem and then go in search of the best way to solve it.’

It’s Fe­bru­ary, and Cy­clist is here in Fon­zaso, north­ern Italy, at Castelli HQ, be­cause we are keen to un­der­stand the mo­ti­va­tion, in­spi­ra­tion and pro­cesses re­quired to cre­ate a new prod­uct. We’re for­tu­nate to be here to wit­ness the fi­nal mo­ments of the birth of a new type of win­ter bib­short, the Om­loop, which has been ges­tat­ing for al­most two years.

‘Soren Jensen [Castelli’s global mar­ket­ing man­ager] had seen pro rider Jeremy Hunt as far back as 2009 cut­ting down his knee­warm­ers to cover only as far as the kneecap, but not go over it,’ Smith adds. ‘Maybe he was far ahead of his time, but back then peo­ple thought, “What on earth is he do­ing?”’

An­drea Peron, former pro and now race per­for­mance direc­tor at Castelli, in­ter­jects, ‘We see what’s hap­pen­ing around the pelo­ton, but also from our back­ground and ex­pe­ri­ence, as we are cy­clists too. Shorts have al­ways been the same. In the Clas­sics and early sea­son races like Paris-nice the rid­ers want to keep the lower part of the large quad mus­cles warm. Stan­dard shorts leave this part ex­posed so it gets cold. The prob­lem with a three­quar­ter knicker or even a knee­warmer is it’s not much dif­fer­ent to rid­ing with a full bibtight in terms of the amount of ma­te­rial that bulks up be­hind the knee, plus also there is fric­tion over the knee cap too, which both­ers many rid­ers when it comes to rac­ing.’

Smith again takes up the de­vel­op­ment story: ‘It’s sim­i­lar to what hap­pened with the Gabba. It’s not like we had a fo­cus group to de­cide on this. We take the nugget from the pro rid­ers, but then how do you take that nugget to fruition? With this prod­uct there would clearly need to be a lot of test­ing, so it quickly went into pro­to­typ­ing to get real world rid­ing miles, rather than just play­ing

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