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Giro Chrono Pro first ride review

27 Aug 2015

Great for riding uphill but not for holding onto cars.

Vincenzo Nibali recently got thrown out of the Vuelta for taking a ‘sticky bottle’, which is when you hold onto a team car while it accelerates thus catapulting you forwards up the field. It’s quite a common occurrence at pro races when riders get dropped (Chris Froome was caught doing it a few years ago at the Giro) and they do it so smoothly that they make it look easy. But the sore muscles down my right arm beg to differ. It’s not easy. It’s not easy at all and I found this out in Switzerland, 120km into a ride to try out the new Giro Chrono Pro range.

The Chrono Pro clothing sits at the top of the new clothing collection (more details here), so to give it a suitable test Giro laid on a fairly challenging ride that would give us, the assembled journalists, a chance to test it. It all sounded quite lovely at first: ride out of town around the edge of the lake, do one fairly big climb, descend, a little more flat riding then another smaller climb and back home. Lovely – except the weather had other ideas.

10km in and my left shoe was a puddle, and the right shoe wasn’t far behind. The rain was torrential at times and sitting on a wheel was like being in the shower. Despite all this I was still fairly comfortable – the Chrono Gilet did a great job of keeping all the wheel spray from hitting my chest but the vented back stopped me from totally overheating. The new armwarmers even managed to keep off the chill even when completely soaked.

By 10am the rain had stopped, the temperature had soared and the tarmac with it. We were climbing the Panoramastrasse, which sounds like it might be worth the pain for the views but 12km at 9% is perhaps a little too much to justify any vista. Within 20 minutes I’d ripped open every zip within reach in an attempt to get some cooling air onto my chest. The Chrono Baselayer coped well considering the amount of moisture that was soaking into it, and it never felt cold or clammy against the skin. Soon (an hour later) the summit was in sight, so it was time to zip everything back up again and take on the descent.

The long and smooth descent meant we were comfortably hitting 85kph but again the Chrono Gilet did a great job of preventing us being chilled to the core. A sandwich, some ice tea and another 10km and the road was rising again. The headline figures for the Glaubenberg don’t seem particularly concerning: 13km, 4% avg. but that’s not the full picture. There’s a 4km plateau in the middle that flattens out the reality of the 15% upper slopes.

The 4km before the plateau whizzed by and I could still just about keep sight of the leading group. As I headed across the top towards the short descent I could see one of our group heading back uphill towards me. I couldn’t tell if he was lost or deranged, so I hedged my bets and carried on without stopping.

At the base of the next ramp I saw the support vehicle so I rode up alongside to speak with the driver. He suggested I hang onto the van and he’d give me a lift. Sure! How hard can it be? A thump on the gear lever, a dumped clutch and my arm was virtually wrenched from its socket. I tried to hold on and tuck my elbow into the window frame but every rise or touch of the throttle tugged badly at my shoulder. I tried straightening my arm and holding on, but I seemed to be spending more energy stopping myself going under the wheels so I returned to the tucked elbow. It felt like we were flying, and honestly I was nervous to go any faster. A quick trip over a rough surface and I had visions that I was about to eat some tarmac. Despite the obvious struggle, I dug deep and held onto the van for a further five minutes.

By the time I ditched the van and climbed to the top I was totally spent. It felt less like I’d gone for a ride and more like I’d been taken out into the countryside and beaten up. Almost every part of my body hurt except my sit bones. The Chrono Pro shorts had such done a fantastic job of keeping me comfortable over seven incredibly long hours in the saddle that I'd forgotten all about them. The same is said for the Pro jersey - it just vanished in my mind for the entire ride, which I think is one of the highest compliments I can give.

We’ve brought a suitcase full of Giro Chrono clothing back with us, so look out for a more long term review soon.


Thanks go to VeloVeneto who were excellent guides, but terrible van drivers.

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