When Team Sky race Paris-Roubaix this Sunday, most of their riders will be wearing Pro Team Shadow. Made of a revolutionary fabric that repels the rain and wind but lets body heat escape, Shadow is the team’s go-to kit for days when the weather is changeable. Now available on rapha.cc and in Cycle Clubs, Shadow will keep you warm, dry – and fast – on any ride in tough conditions.
Servais Knaven, directeur sportif at Team Sky and the winner of a wet and muddy Paris-Roubaix in 2001, knows the importance of having the right kit. The Dutchman, who will be behind the wheel of a team car on Sunday, says Shadow has become a firm favourite among the riders. “It is warm but also breathes and is really comfortable to wear – good for northern Europe where the weather is not always the best.”
When worn with arm warmers, leg warmers and overshoes, Shadow provides Team Sky with the armour they need to face the Hell of the North. Knaven is certainly convinced of its qualities: “Clothing like this [Shadow] can make the difference between winning and losing.”
All-weather armour for race day
Kit choice is every cyclist’s favourite subject for discussion before a ride, and it is no different for the pros. Back in early March, the Team Sky bus was parked in Condé-sur-Vesgre, a small commune to the west of Paris in France, and an animated conversation around the same topic was taking place between the riders.
It was the morning of the first road stage of Paris-Nice, an important early-season stage race, and after an icy cold prologue the previous day, the boys in black and blue wanted to make sure that they would be well protected on a day that threatened high winds and snow.
In such conditions, some riders want to cover up as much as possible for warmth, while others want kit that offers weather protection but yet still feels like form-fitting racewear and doesn't flap around. Rapha’s Pro Team Shadow kit, which Team Sky has been wearing since the 2015 spring classics, is the solution.Continue Reading »
Paris-Nice is called the ‘Race to the Sun’ because, just like Milan-San Remo, it meanders from the cold northern mainland to the warmth and sun of the Côte d’Azur coast. Unlike Milan-San Remo, which is all over in a day, Paris-Nice takes seven days to get there, and the inevitably dreary weather and pressure to perform often makes it one of the toughest races of the season.
Rapha developed the Shadow technology to cater specifically for days like these, when surviving the conditions is one thing, racing in them another. Back to the bus before Stage 1 and most of the riders opted for their team kit made of the Shadow fabric, standing on the start line wearing the peloton’s most advanced ‘race armour’.
“We were covered head to toe in the Shadow range. We had booties, knee warmers, shorts, jersey, arm warmers, even gloves, and I didn’t get cold until Stage 3 when the race was cancelled due to snow,” Ian Boswell told Gear Patrol in a recent interview.
The team’s sprinter, Ben Swift, who took a second place finish on Stage 1, agreed: “On the cold days in Paris-Nice, not one of us suffered. While a lot of other riders were cold, our whole team was on the front, animating the race." Looking at your competitors and seeing them suffer in the cold offers a wicked sense of motivation.
Team Sky rode at the front of the race for all seven days, bearing the brunt of France’s miserable Spring, which, as Boswell noted, even included the halfway-through cancellation of Stage 3 under the UCI’s newly implemented Extreme Weather Protocol.
As the snow fell and riders dived into warm team cars, Boswell realised that Shadow had still made a difference earlier that morning: “We saw other teams in standard bib shorts and they were soaked almost straight away, getting colder as the day went on, while our legs stayed warm."
Team Sky’s leader Geraint Thomas took over the race’s yellow jersey after the summit finish at La Madone d’Utelle on Stage 6, setting the scene for one of the most exciting final days in any stage race, let alone Paris-Nice’s storied history. While Alberto Contador’s repeated attacks made the Welshman sweat on the road into Nice, he held on by four seconds to win his first ever WorldTour race and enjoy his long-awaited moment in the sunshine.
Racing to the sun had demanded much from Team Sky, and Shadow had played its own small part in helping Thomas to the top step. Having worn it throughout, Boswell is persuaded: "The new Shadow range is the future - even though it's already here. In terms of wet weather clothing it's the best equipment that's ever come into cycling.”
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