The Best Kit Possible

AGU x Dylan Groenewegen

Dylan Groenwegen dreams of the yellow jersey. AGU helps him with the best kit possible.

Aerodynamics

When we agreed to work with Team Jumbo-Visma for the 2019 cycling season, we committed to developing a faster skin suit with riders and performance staff from the team. We were looking for a partner that could help us translate the knowledge and technology that our engineers and designers had developed for track cycling and speed skating into a time-trial suit for the road. Team Jumbo-Visma was looking for a partner that could ensure that their riders would have every possible aerodynamic advantage. Primož Roglič and Steven Kruijswijk were going to need every second they could gain to fulfil their ambitions in the grand tours. Jos van Emden was planning to be as competitive as ever in the time trials. And for 2019, the team had brought Tony Martin into the fold. The four-time world champion and current German champion was intending to get back to his winning ways and share his expertise with his new teammates and Team Jumbo-Visma’s performance staff. We each looked across the table and saw the perfect partner.

During the winter, our R&D team tested fabrics and patterns in the Eindhoven University of Technology’s wind tunnel with riders from the squad. Before the start of the season, we had already produced a suit that was significantly faster than the one Team Jumbo-Visma used last year. Still, we saw room for improvement. With Team Jumbo-Visma, we agreed that we would update the suit at regular intervals, incorporating feedback from the riders and Team Jumbo-Visma’s coaches to make it even faster. A few weeks ago, we tested a second version of it in the wind tunnel and saw even more improvements. We immediately put it into production. Within a week, we had delivered the new suits to the team, just in time for the riders to pack them in their suitcases for the UAE Tour, where they would first see action in stage one of the World Tour race, a 16-km team time trial. That Sunday, the team took off down the starting ramp. Sixteen minutes and 47 seconds later, they crossed the line as winners, having averaged 57 km/hr. The data don’t lie. Team Jumbo-Visma’s AGU skin suit is very good at speed. Bring it on!

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Comfort

During a three-week grand tour such as the Giro d’Italia, Team Jumbo-Visma’s riders will race over 3,500 kilometres and spend more than 90 hours in the saddle. To prepare for the ordeal, they will have ridden more than 10,000 kilometres in all conditions—from cold and snow during the European winter to 40-degree heat in Australia. By the time the season is done, they will have cycled close to the equivalent of a full lap of the earth.

For them to continue training and racing at their best throughout the year, it is crucial that their equipment causes them no discomfort whatsoever. Professional cycling is hard enough as it is.

The first crucial factor that determines the comfort of a kit is how it fits. If a rider’s chamois does not sit quite right, he could get a saddle sore that could keep him off his bike for weeks. If his jersey is a bit too tight, his breathing will be constricted. A raincoat that is too loose will let in water through the neck and sleeves, leaving him sopping wet for hours on the road. No rider should have to face such prospects.

That is why we developed a complete range of clothing for Team Jumbo-Visma’s racers and tailored each article to suit each of their dimensions, from summer shirts and bibs to winter tights and jackets.

The team is now prepared for all conditions. In a race such as the Giro, they could start in warm sun down in a valley. An hour later, it might be snowing at the top of their first climb. We have developed a gamut of technical solutions for all of the weather that they might encounter. Each article has been rigorously engineered for comfort, so there are no seams that rub or sleeves that pinch.

The riders have a choice of comfortable chamois. Some riders opt for our Red 120 pad; others opt for the Black 320, depending on which works best with their anatomy.

They continue to provide us with feedback to ensure that their kit keeps getting better and better.

Team Jumbo-Visma’s riders demand the very best from themselves and from their clothing.

So do we.

Hot Weather

At race pace, a cyclist’s body produces a tremendous amount of heat. Ensuring that that heat can dissipate is one of the key challenges faced by AGU’s designers. That challenge is made even more acute at races like the Tour de France, where Team Jumbo-Visma’s riders slog it out for hours on high mountain cols with very little wind to cool them down or shadows to offer them respite from the summer sun.

In the heat, Team Jumbo-Visma’s racers need clothing that is extremely lightweight and breathable. We have worked hard to produce kit with a special mesh structure that allows the maximum amount of air to reach their bodies without compromising crucial performance factors, such as aerodynamics.

We didn’t leave it there though. In recent years, a range of fabric technologies have been developed that offer superior cooling. Arm sleeves made with HeiQ’s Smart Temp material, for instance, can keep the temperature of a rider’s arms up to 2.5°C lower than it would be if they were to ride with naked skin. The special Coldblack fabric that we used for Team Jumbo-Visma’s bibshorts has similar cooling properties. It reduces the amount of heat the material absorbs to an absolute minimum and offers reliable UV protection.

Such developments will provide the team with real advantages this July. At races such as the Tour de France, every advantage counts.

Cold Weather

Staying warm on the bike in the cold is hard enough. Racing well in wintry conditions is even more difficult. During the early-season classics or high-mountain stages of the Giro, Team Jumbo-Visma’s riders will often compete for hours in icy rain or sometimes even snow. On those days, their clothing has to work perfectly. First of all, it has to guarantee that their body temperatures will remain within the optimal range. Their jackets and tights have to be breathable enough to ensure that they will not sweat on the climbs, as that sweat could quickly turn to ice. For the descents and the flats, their clothing has to shield their bodies from the wind and wet and provide enough insulation to keep them warm, so they won’t waste calories shivering and can remain alert. And their clothing must remain lightweight and aerodynamic, without ever restricting their movements, for them to be competitive.

Using the very latest high-tech fabrics, we have developed a full range of cold-weather kit for the riders to use. It has been designed to be worn in layers—from cozy merino undershirts to winter jackets lined with Polartec Alpha. That way the riders can always put on more clothing if they get cold and can strip off when the racing heats up.

During the winter, Team Jumbo-Visma’s racers were very satisfied with how their cold-weather clothing performed. Still, we have been experimenting with designs that offer slight improvements and are constantly running new ideas by the riders. Like them, we always strive to get better.

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