The Vuelta is upon us and Saddleback's brands are well represented in the pro peloton with Sidi, Castelli, 3T, ENVE, Chris King, Stages and Silca all represented at the last Grand Tour of the season.
Being the season’s final major stage race and an event that favours savagely steep summit finishes, the Vuelta a Espana always sets the stage for drama. From riders whose Tour de France dreams ended with a slap to the tarmac to those with an empty score sheet seeking to bag a win before the year’s end, there’s a sense of last-chance desperation that animates the action like no other race on the calendar.
As with the Tour de France, several of Saddleback’s brands can be seen in use during the pro peloton’s journey around Spain. Here are some of the key brands and products powering top riders to the line at the sport’s highest level.
Hailing from Maser, Italy, Sidi is a perennial favourite for pro teams and individual riders. Over 40 years of evolution has gone into the brand’s designs resulting in shoes that are both functional and beautiful.
This year, 44 riders – a quarter of the Vuelta peloton – are wearing Sidi. Three Sidi-supplied teams are equipped with custom Sidi shoes – Bahrain Merida, Katusha-Alpecin and Astana Pro Team. This means the likes of 2010 winner Vincenzo Nibali, last year’s third-place finisher Ilnur Zakarin and multiple Vuelta stage winner Miguel Angel Lopez are wearing Sidi Shots – also the choice of Grand Tour triple winner, Chris Froome.
On top of this, 18 other riders have picked Sidi including Adam Yates and European Champion Matteo Trentin of Mitchelton-Scott; Team Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski and Sergio Henao; Rigoberto Uran and Pierre Rolland of EF Education First; and Cofidis’ French sprinter, Nacer Bouhanni.
Shop Sidi Road Cycling Shoes
Team Sky are the sport’s most successful pro team and are well known for their selective use of the best equipment for marginal gains. Given Castelli’s own reputation for obsessive detail and extensive wind tunnel testing in pursuit of ultimate speed, the two organisations are a perfect match.
Since joining forces in 2017, Team Sky’s input has informed the evolution of Castelli’s products – honing designs to better the performance of both pro riders and cycling enthusiasts. The collaboration has so far yielded five brand new items, 14 significant updates and 18 smaller alterations to the Castelli range.
Shop Team Sky x Castelli
Stages’ power meters have been the design of choice for Team Sky since 2014 and have helped the team to secure no less than six Grand Tour victories including four Tour de France wins (2015-18), the 2017 Vuelta and the 2018 Giro d’Italia.
Stages Power LR meters are again being used by Team Sky during this year’s Vuelta, giving riders and support staff alike a wealth of data to inform performance including the pro-level edge afforded by leg balance figures. One huge benefit of the Stages collection is that existing Stages Power L or Stages Power R users can follow a simple upgrade path to dual-leg measurement by adding the accompanying unit at a later date.
Shop Stages Road Power Meters
Another brand teeming with Italian heritage, 3T’s designs have been the favourite of pro cyclists for decades, constantly innovating with bar shape, materials and ultimately performance. BMC Racing is 3T most high-profile collaboration with the brand providing bars, aerobars, stems and seatposts to the likes of Richie Porte and the rest of the squad.
Shop 3T Bars and Stems
ENVE and Chris King
Team Dimension Data continue their collaboration with ENVE at the Vuelta with the brand providing cockpits and wheels including the new SES 5.6 rim-specific wheelset, which is built for the team with emerald Chris King R45 hubs and exclusive decals. The Vuelta has already been good to the team with Ben King taking the win on Stage 4.
First used by TDD at the Tour de France, the ENVE SES 5.6 is a new addition to the US brand’s line-up of hand-crafted carbon wheels and utilise the latest ENVE tech to provide an unparalleled combination of aerodynamics, stability, strength and compliance. The wheels also feature ENVE’s textured moulded braking surface for incredible stopping power in the wet and dry as well as superior heat dissipation – something all the more important in the baking sun of southern Spain.
The R45 is Chris King’s ultimate road hub. The RingDrive system has 45 teeth that give almost instant engagement under power and less drag when freewheeling – also giving that classic angry bee sound as you descend. Built using Chris King’s legendary in-house bearings the R45 wears in rather than out, getting faster with age. All Chris King hubs are also fully serviceable, giving year upon year of performance usage – truly making them the heart of your wheels no matter which rim you choose to pair them with.
Shop ENVE Road Wheels
From the performance advantages of perfecting tyre pressure to the importance of precision tooling for team bike setup, Bora-Hansgrohe riders benefit from Silca’s pumps and tools on a daily basis – and make the lives of the team mechanics easier.
Built to last with limited lifetime warranties and drawing on a century of inflation excellence, Silca’s heirloom quality pumps will be the pride of your home workshop. But there’s so much more to the US brand’s offering with new bags and tools being added to the collection all the time – including the new Venti 20-function multi-tool.
Shop Silca Pumps and Tools
Photos: Bettini / Saddleback