The Eurobike show finished on Saturday night. While most exhibitors drove, flew or ferried back home, four riders in Sportful Spandex chose to use road bikes to get back to base, no easy matter considering base was 470kms distant and the Sportful crew did it in a day. The Friedrichshafen to Fonzaso ride had 4400 meters of ascent thrown in for good measure.
The riders in Sportful kit were Paul Whitfield of C3 Products, the UK distributor for Sportful; Chris Mackay, the cycling apparel buyer for CompetitiveCyclist.com of the US, and Steve Smith, Sportful's sales and marketing manager. Tagging along, on what for him was little more than a warm-up, was Mike Cotty, formerly brand manager at Cannondale in the UK, now brand ambassador for Mavic, and who recently rode for 33 and a half hours straight, from Evian les Bains to Nice, a distance of 677kms.
"I had been treating Eurobike like a stage race," said Smith. "The expo days were the flat stages and the ride away from the show was the queen stage." The riders left at 4am.
"We rode around Lake Constance through Germany, across the tip of Austria, then into Switzerland heading south along the Rhine river. A quick jog across the river got us our fourth country of the morning, into Liechtenstein," said Smith. "All of this was before dawn."
It was uphill through Switzerland to Davos and on to the Fluela Pass and the high point of the day at 2400m.
"It was then a quick drop down into the Engadin Valley, then back up to 2138m at the Ofenpass. The next 90kms were mostly downhill and we finally reached Italy and headed to Merano, Bolzano, then Trento."
Smith added: "We battled headwinds into Trento, got our last feed stop just after dusk while watching the lightning flashes up over the hills that stood between us and home. About 65kms from home the skies opened up and we got to do our last descent in pouring rain. The rain let up to a light drizzle and we finally rolled in at 12.30am."
Was this going to be an annual post-Eurobike ride for Sportful?
"This was a once-in-a-lifetime event," promised Smith. "But you never know…"
Sportful is based in Fonzaso, about 80 km northwest of Venice. The company was founded in 1946 as a knitwear manufacturer. The founders’ son, Dr Giordano Cremonese, took over the company in the 1970s and branched out in ski wear. In 1985 the company branched out again, this time into cycling. By 2002 Sportful was making the kit for the Italian national cycling team. Sportful is the clothing sponsor of Team Saxo-Tinkoff, currently riding in the Vuelta. In 2003, Sportful acquired fellow Italian cycle clothing brand, Castelli.