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Italian clothing firm gets money-can't-buy publicity as riders from teams kitted out by rivals sport its jersey to beat the elements

So, who won Milan-San Remo yesterday? Well, no prizes for giving the answer Gerald Ciolek of MTN-Qhubeka. But there was plenty of reason for the Prosecco corks to be popping at the HQ of Italian cycle clothing firm Castelli as the snow and rain gave it the kind of publicity money just can't buy, with dozens of riders from teams sponsored by other clothing firms opting for its Gabba jersey to protect them from the elements.

Eagle-eyed fans would have noticed the prevalence of the black Castelli jerseys, mostly unbadged, in the peloton once racing resumed on the Ligurian riviera yesterday, and the trend of riders from non-sponsored teams wearing its Gabba jerseys when conditions take a turn for the worse is one that Castelli in the UK devoted a blog post to earlier this month, including pictures of riders snapped wearing it.

Castelli says:

What is the ultimate product endorsement? What you read on the forums, what a review in a magazine says? What you hear at a coffee stop? When do you really know that a product is REALLY good?  Well for us the ultimate endorsement is when a Pro pays to use a non-sponsored product or other brands start copying you. You then know that this isn’t just a good product its a great product. And the Castelli Gabba Jersey is the greatest of them all

Sharp eyes will notice how many pro riders from other teams use the original Gabba with the logos blacked out. Some other brands have tried to copy it, but pros know they’re at a disadvantage if they don’t have a real Gabba. Products like the Gabba WS Jersey define Castelli. Based on pro rider needs, created to offer a tangible competitive advantage, and developed in a no-compromise pursuit of performance.

One rider racing Milan-San Remo yesterday who is paid to wear the jersey is Garmin-Sharp's David Millar, and he and his team mates are big fans of it, as this video makes clear.

As for that name, Gabba? It's nothing to do with the Ramones or the cricket ground in Brisbane, but rather is a nod to former Cervelo TestTeam rider Gabriel Rasch - now with Team Sky, and another who rode Milan-San Remo yesterday - who came up with the idea for the garment, as Castelli says:

It began in 2009 when a focus group of Cervélo TestTeam riders worked with our engineers to develop and improve clothing for cold and wet conditions. During one of these sessions, CTT rider Gabriel Rasch, nickname Gabba, came up with the idea of a stretchy, formfitting short-sleeve rain jersey that could be paired with the water-resistant Nanoflex arm warmers to create an outfit that was perfectly geared to the foul weather of the Spring Classics.

 

 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.