The 2019 Castelli Speed Camp
Behind the Scenes
"Cycling along the winding roads of the Sa Calobra, in a short sleeve jersey with the sun on my back and the sound of Christmas music in the distance, was an extremely pleasant, if a touch surreal, way to round out my year."
You could say sales team member, Seb, brought 2018 to a close in style and we would agree. Joining Castelli for their 2019 Speed Camp in Majorca, this was a chance to learn about and ride in some of the most desirable pieces of clothing for the upcoming spring and summer.
Two key garments in the new spring/summer 2019 range are the Free Aero Race 6.0 Short Sleeve Jersey and Free Aero 4.0 Bib Short. I'd be checking these out alongside the people responsible for each design. Cyclists from within the cycling industry and publications were the ‘testers’ whilst Castelli Brand Manager Steve Smith, Marketing Manager Søren Jensen, former professional rider and race performance director Andrea Peron and Saddleback Brand Manager Richard Mardle (also a rider on the Nuun-SigmaSport-London Race Team) were to be our hosts. These brand insiders were on hand to explain the creative process and the reasoning behind every panel and seam on their latest garments.
After a morning briefing from Steve we headed to receive our bikes and kit for the upcoming rides; a Pinarello road bike complete with Shimano Ultegra Di2 components, an assortment of NamedSport nutrition, a pair of Sidi Wire 2 Carbon Vernice Road Shoes, a KASK helmet and the all-important Castelli Race Rain Bags which were filled to the brim with exciting new kit. We were provided with two pairs of Free Aero 4.0 Bib Shorts, an all-new Aero Race 6.0 Short Jersey, a Perfetto 2 Short Sleeve Jersey a Perfetto Vest, Nanoflex Arm and Knee Warmers, socks, base layers and an Idro 2 Rain Jacket. We were ready to ride!
Castelli Free Aero Race 4.0 Bib Short
The Free Aero 4.0 Bib Short is all new for this season and has been designed with the help of Team Sky. Key features include a new bib construction for a minimalist fit, which has been combined with fabrics that boast better breathability. Panel construction has also been addressed, improving the fit and weight on the bib short. New lower leg grippers feature vertically running silicone to maintain grip but allow stretch through different phases of the pedal stroke. These also feature lazer cut raw edges, added to improve comfort. Comfort re-envisaged, the new Pregetto X2 Seat Pad - Seamless Air has been incorporated into the bib short to enhance breathability, moisture management and add support for the rider.
A Closer Look at The Castelli Free Aero Race 4.0 Bib Short
Castelli Aero Race 6.0 Short Sleeve Jersey
Castelli's fastest jersey yet! WorldTour developed with the help of Team Sky, the Free Aero Race 6.0 Short Sleeve Jersey has been designed with wind tunnel and CFD testing to make it as aerodynamic as possible. An improved fit over its predecessor ensures it is as comfortable for everyday use as it is on the race circuit. Key features include deeper and easier to access pockets and a design that now offers improved moisture management.
The Mallorcan winter was comparable to early British summer with the temperature staying a pleasantly sunny 15-20 degrees celsius, so for our first ride, I chose the Free Aero Race 4.0 Bib Short, Aero Race 6.0 Jersey, a Perfetto Vest and Nanoflex Arm Warmers. This proved to be a prudent choice as we made our way from Campanet to the Coll de sa Batalla. I was glad to have the Perfetto Vest and Nanoflex Arm Warmers which stopped water spray from soaking me and kept the wind chill off during descents and on shaded roads. The pockets on the Perfetto also allowed me to easily get my ride snacks and allow quick access to my phone for the many pictures I was taking, a bonus over past vests which had a tight fit over jersey pockets and no storage of their own.
The photos promptly stopped as we started the climb at the bottom of the Sa Batalla, as a fairly large rider climbs are not my particular forte and I was soon working hard to keep up with the stronger and lighter riders through the many switchbacks and pitches of the climb. As the effort warmed me up, stashing the vest in a pocket of the Aero Race 6.0 Jersey was easy enough that I managed it on the move.
I rolled over the top of the climb and joined the group in the forecourt of the Repsol Petrol station. After putting the Perfetto back on we descended briefly to a café stop for half time oranges and then began the long twisting descent to Pollença, where once again I was grateful for the wind stopping properties of the vest and arm warmers. The smooth road surface and wide open corners made for a very fun second half of the ride, a big difference from the potholes and traffic of the Surrey Hills.
Once back at our hotel near Campanet we had technical presentations from Steve, Soren and Andrea, and a guest appearance from former pro and Team Sky Sport Director Gabriel Rasch. Andrea described the race-centric design process behind the garments, explaining that Castelli has a brand ethos of designing top-level racing kit for the professionals and then offering the exact same to amateurs. Steve and Soren regaled us with tales from their many years spent close to the pro peloton, passing around racing kit from as far back as 2006. It was clear to see the incremental improvements from their first ‘Split Second’ jersey, through to the 2009 Cervelo Test Team kit and the more modern Team Sky speed suits.
Gabriel then answered questions on his time as a rider and now as a director at Team Sky, explaining how closely he’d worked with Castelli to design his own ideal race rain garment and how its popularity spread across the pro peloton to the now famous scenes at the 2013 Milan-San-Remo where the ‘Gabba’ appeared on a significant number of non-Castelli sponsored riders and marked itself as the foul weather racing clothing choice. Steve and Soren explained how they didn’t see it working and thought it would end up as a ‘pro only’ garment, only for it to surprise everyone and now become a staple of the cyclist’s bad weather wardrobe.
The next day we were to tackle Mallorca’s iconic Sa Calobra climb. A climb I had heard and seen lots of hype about but had never done before. We set off once again up the Sa Batalla, taking in the views and stopping at the top to drink hot chocolate in the Repsol petrol station. I was informed this is a traditional drink specifically for that climb and cafe. Refuelled we rolled onwards towards the Sa Calobra. At some point, I became aware of Wham’s Last Christmas drifting through the air and looked round to see Richard with phone aloft belting out the lyrics, a surreal reminder that despite the bright sunshine and temperature it was late December.
The Sa Calobra climb is a dead-end road, so to climb it you first have to descend it. After stopping at the top to take in the spectacular view I began to descend. With multiple switchbacks and tight corners, the descent was a lot of fun, pushing my bike handling skills far more than any of my local loops. Eventually, I got to the small town of Sa Calobra before almost instantly beginning the climb back to the top.
Here was the true test of the kit during our trip. When putting down an effort you don’t want anything to distract you, inappropriate clothing can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help. Whilst the kit is designed for speeds above 30kph, and I certainly can’t climb hills that quick, it’s still important that it functions at other points during a ride. The Free Aero Race 6.0 Bib Short was incredibly comfortable and stayed in the correct position for the duration of my effort. The improved leg grippers helped to make the shorts extremely comfortable but firmly fixed to the right place, whilst the seat pad did its job without being noticeable.
The Aero Race 6.0 Short Sleeve Jersey was breathable and being a performance fit it didn’t flap about, so allowed me to concentrate on getting the most out of my legs. Switchback after switchback I pushed on, keen to make the most of this opportunity to set a time up it. Out of breath I completed the climb and rolled around to recover and once again take in the view from the top. Whilst I’m nowhere near being a professional cyclist, it was nice to feel that I was pushing myself to my limits and the kit I was wearing had been designed to help get the best out of myself.