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WOVEN FOR THE WORLDTOUR

The cycling calendar is longer than ever and challenges riders to compete from January to October, in searing heat and pouring rain. Fresh from their first races of the season, EF Pro Cycling’s Neilson Powless and CANYON//SRAM’s Hannah Barnes explain why the Pro Team Shoe will be their choice of footwear this season, whatever the weather.

Competing at cycling’s elite level requires professional riders to perform in a wider range of conditions than ever before. Though most items of kit can be swapped out to suit the weather, shoes require more careful consideration. When it comes to footwear, superstition is rife and riders seldom switch suppliers even between seasons for fear of ill-fitting shoes.

To break the mould and trigger a change, a new pair of race shoes must reflect the broad range of races throughout the season and provide comfort in any conditions. Over the last two months, the Pro Team Shoe has hit the ground running on the feet of WorldTour riders including CANYON//SRAM’s Hannah Barnes and EF Pro Cycling’s Neilson Powless.

While Neilson started his season in the heat at the Tour Down Under, Hannah made her bow at the rain-streaked Belgian season opener, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Though they’ve been racing and training in very different conditions, both attest to the unparalleled comfort of our new race shoe, and are glad to have made the switch.

Racing the early season Australian races for the first time, Neilson had been concerned about the extreme heat that usually characterises the races. But speaking to us after a stage of the following week’s Herald Sun Tour, the American was pleasantly surprised: “The Tour Down Under is a really nice event to race because you can ride back to the same hotel after most of the stages, and this year it wasn’t too hot either.”

“Still, it was a good test for the new shoes,” he continued. “From the first ride I did on them I found them to be super comfortable. I had tried four pairs already but just couldn’t find the right fit. I tried the Pro Team Shoe on a recon ride up Willunga Hill and even though it was the very first time I’d ridden in them, I knew there and then that this would be the shoe I’d race the season on.”

On the other side of the planet, in notably less favourable weather, former British champion Hannah took to the Pro Team Shoe just as quickly. “From the word go, I was comfortable and confident about racing in these shoes,” she told us on a recent training camp in Spain.

“I’ve not been riding in them for long but it feels like months and months. Once I do the dials up, my feet are really in there, secure and not moving anywhere,” she said. And it’s not just us she’s been telling, it seems some of her training partners have got the message too: “Tao is getting fed up with me saying how much I like them,” Hannah laughed. “They’re the kind of shoe everyone will love.”

For Neilson, it’s the woven upper that makes the difference: “They hug my foot more completely than other shoes I’ve tried,” he said, considering his choice of words as carefully as he does his equipment. “The Powerweave fabric is form-fitting but doesn’t generate any hotspots because it’s so supple. The tongue especially feels really good on the upper part of my foot where I have a bone pops up a little. The upper of this shoe is soft enough not to agitate that.”

But it’s not just the comfort on offer that has impressed Powless. After working in the service of others throughout his career at Dutch squad Jumbo-Visma, the American is looking to make his mark whenever the roads turns uphill in 2020, and he needs a shoe with performance credentials to match his ambition.

“It’s a really tough balance to find, having a shoe that is comfortable but also stiff enough to feel like a race shoe,” he said when asked how the shoe performs in a race. “I feel like the Pro Team Shoe’s balance is spot on for what I need – comfort for a six hour race and stiffness to hang with the best when you need to put the power down. There’s no play when I’m sprinting or doing a threshold effort, it just feels super locked in.”

Life as a pro inevitably means riding in the rain every now and again. Although the Pro Team Shoe’s woven upper makes for excellent breathability, it also incorporates a durable water repellent treatment for equally effective weather protection, as Hannah found en route to a top twenty finish at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

“The weather is always a worry at the Classics,” she told us. “After Omloop the races come thick and fast, so not having to worry about my shoes is a weight off my mind. My training has been going really well and I know the Pro Team Shoes will be good for me in the races too.”

Since she’s relaxed about her choice of shoe, Hannah has been able to turn her attention to aesthetic choices: “I’m normally a sucker for white shoes but this pair has convinced me that there is a place for a black shoes too, especially during Classics season,” she added with a smile.

Hannah and Neilson have been the Pro Team Shoe’s earliest adopters but news spreads fast in the peloton. “They’re definitely getting a lot of looks,” Neilson explained. “In fact, I’ve managed to convince a couple of teammates to try them out. Anyone else who wants a pair should move fast.”

Pro Team Shoes

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