It’s difficult to overstate the importance of Velotec’s partnership with Vitus Pro Cycling Team. A handpicked collection of emerging talents, Cherie Pridham’s development squad seeks every advantage in matching its more experienced competitors. With a breakthrough performance in May at the most gruelling edition of the Tour de Yorkshire so far, the men in red have carried the Velotec marque into some of the biggest races on the calendar and worn their jerseys with pride.
Velotec, in turn, has gained the feedback of riders for whom performance is everything. Those whose working day amounts to five hours or more on the road, or an hour-long circuit race that brings a new meaning to the phrase ‘high intensity’, are not inclined to pull their punches. The honest and unfiltered feedback of Vitus Pro Cycling Team’s professional riders is vital information for a brand focussed on producing the fastest clothing available.
The sheer volume of training undertaken by Vitus Pro Cycling Team’s riders also makes them an invaluable resource. The thousands of miles racked up each year by every rider offers a test programme of significant scale; one far beyond the scope of an amateur rider or team. Put simply, the job of the young men in red is to ride their bikes, day in, day out, in all weathers. Velotec could hope for no better partner.
A racing heritage
Founder Padraic Quinn is well versed in the demands of elite cycling. An Irishman who followed the traditional pathway to the sport’s heartland by moving to France in the 1990s. he spent seven years as a full-time racer, gathering a first-hand knowledge of the advantages gained from quality clothing - and the detriment to the rider of garments that failed to perform.
Quinn founded Velotec in 2004, determined to remain at the heart of the sport. Equipped with the admirably simple modus operandi of supplying quality clothing at reasonable prices, while offering good customer service, he has guided Velotec to a successful decade-and-a-half in business. Increasingly, Velotec has made a specialism of speedwear: developing aerodynamically optimised garments that have propelled riders to national and even world titles.
Aerodynamics and comfort are the two driving forces that power Velotec’s development. The search for a sleeker silhouette and more slippery fabrics has taken on a greater significance in recent years, in response to mounting evidence that improved aerodynamic performance from clothing offers the cyclist his greatest ‘bang for buck’, with the rider accounting for 80 per cent of the aerodynamic picture.
The performance benefits of enhanced comfort are increasingly recognised, too. Every watt lost to a shift in position, every joule expended in the adjustment of a bibstrap or jersey hem, is performance lost to competitors on the road. The significant investment of time and money made by any professional team in finding a rider’s optimum riding position is squandered if the clothing is not up to task. Little wonder that Vitus Pro Cycling Team places such value on its partnership with Velotec.
Northern Italy is a place of pilgrimage for the cycling aficionado. The greatest marques in the sport are clustered in Bella Italia’s industrial heartland; names with their own mystique, interwoven into the very fabric of the sport: Campagnolo of Vicenza, Bianchi of Treviglio, Colnago of Cambiago, to name only three.
The mechanical mastery of such marques is only one piece of the jigsaw, however. Those who craft in fabric are also to be found in this venerated corner of northern Italy. Some are located close to the great fashion houses of Milan, but their focus is on function, rather than form (even if an Italian is incapable of extinguishing entirely his instinct for elegance). Velotec has found a wealth of blue chip suppliers on this hallowed ground: manufacturers like Carvico, Miti and eVent; Dolomiti and Elastic Interface.
The explosion in the development and manufacture of technical fabrics in the last five years has left Velotec spoiled for choice. The materials can be divided, in the broadest sense, into two different categories: those that protect the rider from the elements, and those that help him ride faster. The rapid rise in the standards of both has broadened the cyclist’s scope, allowing to him to train for longer in bad weather and to gain more from the advantage offered by enhanced aerodynamics.
Year-round riding is now a realistic target for a rider correctly clothed. The days when rain stopped play are passed. Modern, technical fabrics that not only keep out the rain but which shift moisture from inside the garment to the outside world keep the man in the saddle dry and comfortable, however severe conditions might be.
Aerodynamic optimisation is another matter entirely, but here again the intelligent use of technical fabrics can make a greater difference than any other component; frames and wheels included. Velotec’s considered selection of materials to disrupt and reunite airflow as required gives Vitus Pro Cycling Team an advantage when their riders roll out for individual and team time-trials: those timed efforts where the slightest advantage over a competitor is faithfully recorded by the remorselessly ticking clock.
Sublime to the not-so-ridiculous
Sublimation printing has been the industry’s default for a generation or more, broadening the design scope for the rider seeking a custom design. The days of a limited colour palette and primitive techniques for logos, such as ‘flocked’ lettering, so susceptible to wear and tear, are over. Sublimation printing not only delivers lasting ink transfer, but means that design choice typically is limited only by the rider’s imagination.
There is another advantage too: an ever-increasing palette of fluorescent shades removes the need for cyclists to compromise on visibility when choosing a custom design. Velotec’s Italian production facility is filled with the newest sublimation print machines, which allows the brand to realise almost any design requirement. Vitus Pro Cycling Team’s vibrant red jersey is the most easily identified of any in the British peloton and a fine example of the standards to which Velotec works.
An ethical stance
No manufacturer can afford to ignore the environmental agenda and Velotec, rightly, is actively pursuing a programme to increase the amount of recycled materials in its products and packaging. Its celebrated Italian production base offers an environmental advantage too: by shipping directly from Treviso to the customer, rather than first transporting the garments to its administrative centre in Ireland, Velotec is able to reduce the carbon footprint of its fulfilment process.
For further information on Velotec Custom Clothing click HERE