Mark Cavendish & Juan Antonio Flecha Q&A

For the launch of the new partnership between the heavyweights that are Team Sky and Jaguar, Cycling Shorts was very kindly asked by Jaguar to provide questions to put to the Team Sky riders, we only knew in advance that Cav would definitely be there so we supplied an array of questions for him and a hefty selection for each of the other Sky cyclists and management.

On the day it turned out Juan Antonio Flecha and Mark Cavendish would represent the team for interviews, but we had plenty of questions for both of them. Unfortunately our collective technical and hard hitting questions didn’t quite make the cut, which is to be expected at a corporate event they tend to go for mass appeal, but our fluffier questions were used.
Questions by Nancy, Darren, and the two Paul’s (Harris & Sloper).

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Jaguar, Team Sky, Mark & Juan.


 

 
 

Jaguar to drive Team Sky

Mark Cavendish & Juan Antinio Flecha Jaguar Sportbrake & Team Sky Launch - ©Copyright Jaguar & Team Sky

JAGUAR AND TEAM SKY ANNOUNCE A THREE YEAR PARTNERSHIP
Jaguar Cars announced this a new three-year global partnership with Team Sky Pro Cycling this afternoon, which coincides with the forthcoming launch of the new XF Sportbrake.

The partnership, which was announced in the elegant surroundings of Syon Park, West London, was attended by leading members of Team Sky. They included 2011 Road Cycling World Champion Mark Cavendish, Sky Rider Juan Antonio Flecha, Team Principal Dave Brailsford. Representing Jaguar was Geoff Cousins, Global Director of Sponsorships.

Jaguar cars will provide invaluable support to the team during the races, carrying over £100,000 of cutting-edge cycling equipment on the roof alone. The car also acts as the ‘nerve centre’ of the team on the road from where all vital strategic and split second tactical decisions are made. Jaguar is providing Team Sky with its latest model, the new XF Sportbrake.

With Team Sky competing at the top level of UCI rankings, riding everything from the one-day classics to stage races and the ‘Grand Tours’. The team’s stated objective is not only to inspire a love of cycling but also to produce a winner of the legendary Tour de France by 2014.

Geoff Cousins, Jaguar Global Director of Sponsorships, commented: “We’re delighted to announce a new three year partnership with Team Sky. We know that our involvement in the rapidly growing sport of cycling and our support of Team Sky resonates strongly with new and existing Jaguar customers. Team Sky and Jaguar have similar ambitions and objectives and furthermore, the values of the team fit well with our human performance and Alive themes that sit at the heart of the Jaguar brand. We wish the riders the very best of luck and look forward to celebrating their successes over the coming years”.

Commenting on the announcement, Dave Brailsford, Sky Pro Cycling’s Team Principal said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Jaguar. Over the past two years Jaguar has provided the team with fantastic support and we very much look forward to putting the new XF Sportbrake through its paces. I am confident it will play an important role in the team’s success this year by providing a fast, high performance and comfortable race support car. It provides the perfect environment from which to direct race operations when we’re on the road. The fact that it looks stunning too will make it the stand out car behind the peloton”.

Andrew Whyman the Chief Programme Engineer of the Jaguar XF Sportbrake added: “Jaguar is rightly praised for its design-led products, but in creating the XF Sportbrake we were careful to ensure that this was balanced with the engineering integrity required to create an estate car that is as usable as it is enjoyable. The Sportbrake epitomises the Jaguar sporting dynamic with its combination of innovative, seductive design and performance. In the XF Sportbrake this is complemented by a no-compromise approach to practicality and versatility”.
 
 
 
 

Tour Eye Candy


Check out these gorgeous minimal artworks by the Netherlands based designer Vincent Vermeij aka Chungkong. Away from his day job designing brilliant brand identities and advertising for his clients Vincent spends time creating his own artwork, his posters are really eye catching Chungkong strips the subjects down to their bare bones and brings them to life in vibrant and playful designs, covering a variety of subjects from cult movies, books and sports. Prices vary from $17 to $85 depending on the size, format and whether you want your print framed, he also does a great range of accessories and T-shirts.

To View more of Vincent’s range click here to visit his website.

To go to Vincent’s shop and treat yourself to his full set of Tour prints, movie images & T-Shirts click here.

 

FREE Poster!

Chungkong is very kindly giving all Cycling Shorts. readers their own copy of his Giro D’Italia Poster for absolutely nothing! You get to download a high resolution PDF for you to print or have printed for your own personal use (not for commercial reproduction). This is for a limited period so act now!

All you have to do is one of the following; if you use the Twitter or Facebook options it gives something back to the artist, Vincent gets some promotion from you downloading, so go on it’s good karma:

Pay with a tweet or Facebook post by using the button or QR code below and it will take you to the download page once the tweet or post has been sent.

Or…

Fill the form in below and you will get a link to download your file. If you’re already on our mailing list you won’t be added again, so enter your details with confidence.

Free Giro D'Italia Poster

Please fill in your email address and we will send you an email with the download link for your free Giro D'Italia Artwork. Your email will ONLY be shared with the artist Vincent Vermeij, no third parties will get your data. You can unsubscribe at any time you wish. Both Cycling Shorts. and Vincent manage responsible and secure mailing lists.

The Rest Less Ride

Last weekend the Rest Less Ride took riders across the whole of Wales from beach to border overnight. The roads were riddled with pot-holes, sheets of gravel and barrier-less hairpin bends, dropped into deep dark valleys, through forests and over 25% climbs in a race against the sun on the night the clocks went forwards.

Alex Murphy of howies writes about the nocturnal cycling adventure.

The ride was born out of a story that writer – and friend of howies – Rob Penn, shared from a chance meeting on the road with a passing cyclist, reminiscing over night-long club rides in the late 1950’s; the quieter roads, the lack of traffic, and the peloton pushing one another on through dawn.

The roads back in the 50’s aren’t too dissimilar to the country lanes in Wales, so only one question remained; “When shall we do it?”


On Saturday, 16 riders set off from howies HQ to Abergavenny, all that led the way were small road markings, the faith in the peloton and the promise that no-one would get left behind in the wilderness.

The pack was made up some of Rob’s and our riding friends, who had come from across Britain, to take on this incredible adventure. A last supper gave time to go over the route, fettle bikes and exchange names with the riders who would help carry one another across the entire country in the dark.

Barely 10 minutes into the ride, a disturbed badger darted into the pack, causing a tumble. The sound of bikes hitting the ground and cries in the night halted riders in front. Once turned upright, we re-grouped and pressed on. What other dangers waited for us in the dark?

Winding out of the Teifi valley, the stronger legs set a steady pace along the undulating road to Lampeter. The hills began to get steeper, breathing deepened and gears simultaneously jumped in the dark to bigger cogs.

The descents made up for the climbs and soon everyone seemed settled, taking to the 40mph bends, down over humpback bridges, free wheeling to allow the legs to rest for the next inevitable climb.

At Lampeter we left the safety of the A roads and towns, heading into the wilderness. The quiet back roads were brown and green down the middle, with fractures to test skinny tyres and fords to test nerves; a surface barely ideal in daylight, let alone in the dark.

These country lanes were bound for the lake at Llyn Briane, up winding valley passes and through pitch-black, potholed hairpins. Chatter in the pack slowed as concentration increased to keep wheels in line over the rough surfaces and spotting markers to keep on course – we had not seen a house or car for miles and rumbling over cattle grids. There would be nowhere to go if you gave up here.

News of the coming halfway stop for hot soup refreshed tired minds. Eager stomachs wound up the pace and soon everyone was huddled around a 2-ring gas burner awaiting some real food. Passing round bread and stretching, we noticed the time, 3am. With darkness all around, we were halfway from nowhere and nowhere near somewhere with an handful of hours ’til dawn. The race against the sun had begun.

The climb past the lake, invisible in the dark, led to fantastically smooth tarmac lining the valley as it wound through the hills and over barrier-less summits with steep drops into the dark.

Approaching the pine forest, a broken chain tore apart Alex’s derailleur, demanding some roadside repairs. Stopped in the silence, it was obvious the damage was irreparable. Cut down to a single speed, the best attempt to limp on, wasn’t going to get the bike over the 25% climb of the Devil’s Staircase and certainly not onto Abergavenny. It was game over for Alex.

The Devil’s Staircase is famed for it’s 25% walls levelling out briefly before the next step upwards. The set of short, sharp climbs marked the midway point through the wilderness. A series of sketchy but exhilarating hairpin descents to the valley floor followed. Mist collected between the hills as the road bounced along, mimicking the bed of the river until finally a junction and another short rest.

Signposts pointed through a dark forest to Builth, where the pack regrouped. The dawn chorus had begun, and the promise of daylight was in the air. The quiet A-roads were smooth and wide, with street lighting easing the dependence of lights which would surely be near the end of their battery life. These roads gave the pack their best chance yet to work together, forming a train of tired legs each taking turns out front to break the cold air.

Crossing the river, heading for Hay-on-Wye, the B-roads were foggy and felt chilly without the climbs to keep the body warm. Staying together for company and warmth, the pack pressed on in the mist.

Leaving Hay behind, daylight finally broke over the hills of the Black Mountains where the final – and hardest – climb of the ride came into view.

Every rider stopped to shed weight, jettisoning surplus layers and water bottles. Feeling sore and empty, the beauty of the scenery laid out in the early morning sun was enough to make the riders forget their tired legs. The end would soon be in sight, with a 15 mile whooping descent though the Llanthony Valley to breakfast. And it would be the best breakfast ever, in soft chairs with hot food.

The ride forged friendship through adversity; sharing the experience of digging deep when you’ve got nothing left, feeling sick, delirious and weary but pushing yourself and fellow riders further than you could possible ride on your own.

Despite the grueling climbs and rapid descents over tarmac laced with gravel and pot holes, 14 of the 16 riders completed the challenge – 124 miles, over 3000 meters of ascent with only one final question remaining; “When shall we do it again?”

A short video of the ride will soon be up on the howies Website.
 
 
 
 

Review – howies Brenin Windstopper Jacket

Some of the Cycling Shorts. boys and girls have got their hands on the pre release howies Men’s Brenin Cycling Jacket to put it through it’s paces.
If you’re not familiar with howies they’re an independent active clothing company based in the beautiful Cardigan Bay in Wales, UK. The company has a passion for cycling and the outdoors. They produce high quality and environmentally friendly thoughtfully designed products. howies have recently taken to sponsoring track cycling, now they are turning their attention to the road. This is the first time howies have ventured into road cycling specific clothing. Having such a good reputation we would be expecting nothing less than great… is it a tall order?!

Brenin Windstopper Jacket

The lightweight shell pack-away jacket is made from 100 percent recycled polyester. It features stretch and wicking fabric in the arms and side panels for unrestricted movement when cycling. It is being sold predominantly as a Men’s jacket but we’ve found it really works for the girls too with it’s stretch fit.

Design details include a zipped chest pocket with earphone cable slot on the inside and an internal clip to attach your keys. Reflective bars on the cuffs and hips, a reflective logo on the chest pocket, adjustable hem and soft fleece lined collar. The jacket rolls up and zips into it’s chest pocket for storage with the key clip becoming a clip to secure the jacket pouch to you while riding.

The windstopper qualities of this jacket are excellent and we love the breathable panels on the arms they allow you to stay warm without overheating. The wicking properties of the fabrics are very good. It doesn’t feel like a crisp packet as these jackets often can, the fabric actually feels very soft. Although the jacket isn’t described as being water or showerproof we were pleasantly surprised that when we got caught out in the rain the core of our bodies were totally dry and the only damp areas where our outer arms but they dried out quickly while cycling. The jacket is very easy to care for and well constructed. You can just leave mud to dry on and let it crumble off, rinse it under the tap or just pop it in the washing machine at 30 degrees. It can’t be tumble dried but it dries very quickly on it’s own and if required you can give it a warm iron….

[flagallery gid=14 name=Brenin Jacket]

Click SL (slideshow) or FS (fullscreen)

What the boys say…

Good length at the back to cover your rear and protect it from mud when on the bike. It looks good off the bike too, it’s not too obvious that you’re wearing a road cycling jacket. We love the chest pocket for you phone, MP3 or other device it has a slot on the inside to feed your headphones through from the pocket up to your ears, protecting the cable as much as possible from the elements. You can also clip your keys into the pocket. Initially we had mixed feelings on only having one pocket but the general consensus was one was fine; you have other layers that contain more than enough packets and the position of the zipped pocket is perfect. The soft fleece lining on the collar is welcome on a cold damp day and it isn’t the sort of fleece that will stick to your stubble and make you look like you’ve been intimate with a wookie. The soft shell construction means it’s ideal for days when you don’t want to carry other bulkier layers around with you. It fits neatly into your jersey back pocket like a cycling cape or gilet would.

What the girls say…

Us girls don’t get very excited when presented by men’s/unisex clothing… we have visions of looking like we’re wearing our dad’s cast offs but we were more than happy when the Brenin Jacket landed on the doorstep. We all have our own styles and we come in assorted shapes and sizes so it was going to be a challenge for the Brenin to please everyone. The biggest test was going to be the fit. First impressions out of the bag were good. Well made and nice design touches.
Sizing… well obviously the sizing is in howies men’s S,M,L and XL, this seems to translate as small being a women’s generous 10-12 and medium a 14-16 (and so on). The sizing is flexible thanks to the stretch fabric panels and it will of course depend on how many layers you intend to wear under the jacket as to which size you require.

It fits your curves thanks to it’s uniques side stretch panels that hug your body. If you’re short in the body most female (never mind unisex or mens) shell jackets are a problem as the waist often sits on your hips which means it’s too narrow to zip up comfortably and the hip part of the jacket is somewhere further down and in Anna’s case generally somewhere near her knees. With the Brenin the extra stretch accommodates curves so you don’t end up looking like you’re sporting a high tech bin liner. If the Brenin is too long you can use the adjustable hem to lift it up. Sleeve length is obviously a problem for shorter ladies on unisex clothing as they can be hanging off the ends of your hands but the elasticated cuffs and slim cut sleeve of the Brenin mean you don’t have a balloon of fabric on each arm. The cut really is great for most heights and shapes. We would like to see an XS in the range at some point… Oh and can we have more colours please?!

To sum up… In the very apt words of that influential cyclist Shakira (well I’m sure she must at least own a bike), if your breasts are “small and humble” or even like some (I’m paraphrasing here) “mountainous region” this jacket will work for you… and dare I push it too far… I feel I can’t help myself… our “hips don’t lie”… ok that was too much…. but I know you were all thinking it! Thankfully that has drained my vast knowledge of Columbian songstresses lyrics… The Brenin gets top marks from the girls!… Buy one for the other half, I’m sure he won’t notice if you borrow it!

It’s the first time we can really say… one style fits all!

Jacket weight: 200g
Size when packed away: 14x12x7cms
Available in UK Men’s Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Price: £100
Available from: howies stores and howies online now!

Pros:

excellent adaptable fit for both men and women
Packs away neatly inside it’s own zipped pocket
reflective hi-vis areas
breathable
stretch panels
easy grip zip pull
excellent windstopper
lightweight
unrestricted movement
zipped pocket
internal earphone cable slot
flattering shape
adjustable hem
environmentally friendly (made from recycled materials)
extremely well constructed
responsibly manufactured

Cons:

No colour options (yet)
Doesn’t come in female specific sizes (a problem for ladies under a UK size 10).
Same problem at the other end of the scale for the more substantial gentleman.
Pricer than some other brands but you have to take into account the eco, ethical and quality standards for the product that other brands don’t necessarily meet.

The Brenin is a favourite of ours it’s earned itself one of our “Star Buy” ratings!

Two Nuns and a Bicycle…

Ron Arad Reinvents the Wheel

There were two nuns and a bicycle… it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke or a script from a naff 1970’s sitcom. It is in fact the name of design legend Ron Arad‘s concept bike. I have to say this design totally passed me by when it was released last autumn, I’m not sure how I missed it. It’s part of a project to raise money for Elton John’s AIDS Foundation. The collection of bikes by celebrities and designers called “WOW Bikes” were available for paying guests to ride at W Hotel in London’s Leicester Square in October 2011 before being auctioned off. I don’t know anyone who got to try them out, I would be very interested to hear from people who did. My impression from the video is that it’s likely to be a rather bouncy ride, a soft version of the old bone shaker. It’s very aesthetically pleasing but I don’t think it’s going to be on sale in your local bike shop anytime soon and I think the traditional wheel will be safe for a few years yet. The design obviously references or was inspired by Ron’s 1980’s Well-Tempered Chair and his Bookworm Bookshelf for Kartell. Ron loves to work in flexible ribbons of materials to create fluid, flexible yet sturdy designs.

Marcus Hearst, director of the design department at Arad’s studio commented, “To account for the added flexibility in the materials, Arad’s sprung wheels of steel are in fact a little bit larger than the average bike wheel. But it’s this yield that gives the wheels a slight cushion and makes the wheels work in a practical way. It’s a surprisingly comfortable ride, and, ironically, the faster you go, the smoother it is. The wheel uses 18 individual strips of steel that are pinned at various tension points to act together as one single unit. We’ve actually done very little with the material. When you bend that steel, the way you pin it, you create natural curves. It’s almost like a flower. The adjacent “spokes” create an additional shape that your eye naturally wants to fill in.”

“The bike was put together in two weeks, from start to finish, which left no time for testing. The ultimate surprise was that it worked the first time. Sprung steel, in particular, has a bewildering array of choices, based on the tempering or mixes, because the process to give the steel more or less “spring” is notoriously difficult to gauge without testing. And, of course, there was some initial skepticism from the manufacturer. They laughed at us when we told them what it was for!”.