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Chpt3 MonzaMilano kit review

22 May 2018
Verdict:

Beautifully made apparel inspired by the Giro d’Italia time-trial

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
Jersey £120, bibshorts £120, base layer £60, socks £20, cap £30
For 
Quality materials and tailoring
Against 
Sizing can be confusing

Anyone who has been following the career of David Millar since he retired as a pro rider will know that, in between writing the occasional book and popping up on ITV to put Ned Boulting straight during the Tour de France coverage, he has been developing his own cycling clothing line: Chpt3.

The name Chpt3 refers to ‘chapter three’, as in the third phase of Millar’s cycling life. Chapter one was his well-documented rise to the top of the sport and subsequent fall when it was revealed that he had doped.

Chapter two was his return to the sport and redemption (at least in the eyes of many fans) for his openness and advocacy of clean riding. The third phase was the part that came straight after retirement – the ‘what do I do now?’ phase.

What Millar did was to get in a room with Italian clothing brand Castelli and dream up a line of kit that reflected his attitudes to the sport, both as a pro and an everyday rider.

Check out the Chpt3 range at Castelli Cafe here

‘At first it was purely a vehicle for taking everything I’d learned in pro racing into the real world,’ he tells Cyclist. ‘I loved it but it really was “Sunday best” kit – super engineered, technical but aesthetic gear. We now refer to it as the origin line. That was the pure anti-pro cycling kit.

‘But as time has gone on I found that I was cycling a bit more and liking the stuff for every day, and that’s where we’re going now. It’s always creative, and it will always keep that technical origin from the racing scene, but it’s getting a bit more practical.’

The racy-but-aesthetic-but-practical direction has resolved itself in this MonzaMilano gear, which is inspired by the Giro d’Italia. It comes in a grey-green base colour with red, white and yellow detailing, which immediately begs the question: if it’s inspiredby the Giro, where’s the pink?

‘That’s a very Chpt3 thing, in that we don’t tend to go for the obvious,’ replies Millar. ‘Just because something is to do with the Giro d’Italia doesn’t mean it has to be pink and talk about a mountain.

‘The origin relates back to the only stage I won at the Giro d’Italia,’ he continues, ‘which was a final stage time-trial. But when I did it [in 2011], it started in a bloody industrial estate, and that wasn’t very cool.’

As such, Millar decided not to come up with a design influenced by prefab industrial units on the outskirts of Milan, but instead looked elsewhere for stimulation.

‘And so we found last year’s course, which started in the Autodromo Nazionale in Monza, which is much cooler.’  The historic racetrack was the starting venue for the Stage 21 time-trial at the 2017 Giro, which was where Tom Dumoulin clawed back almost a minute and a half from rival Nairo Quintana to snatch the pink jersey at the last gasp.

The design includes the number 21 to represent the 21st stage, and the colours symbolise the start lines painted on the track, from where the riders set off last year. That 29.3km course ended – just as Millar’s time-trial in 2011 had – in the cathedral square in Milan.

‘It’s not really about me,’ says Millar, ‘but it’s connected to me by a thin thread. I hadn’t ever won a stage of the Giro and it was the one thing missing from my Grand Tour palmares. So getting it on that final day was amazing. I know what it feels like to cross that line in that square, and for it to be a pretty special day.’

Classic cut

Pulling on the MonzaMilano jersey, the most noticeable thing is the cut. The sleeves feel almost baggy by modern standards, especially for a jersey inspired by a time-trial. That, says Millar, is deliberate.

‘We wanted something that was a bit more comfortable, and for me in particular I wanted the idea of a classic jersey, one that harks back to when I first started bike riding, when everything wasn’t just spray-on and race fit,’ he says.

‘I was sitting in the offices at Castelli and I looked around and there was this picture of Greg LeMond on the wall and he was in a Tour de France yellow jersey, and it was the most amazing thing because the cut was just stunning. It had these slightly loose arms, a little bit more like a really well cut t-shirt.’

The top half of the jersey is slightly loose fitting, to fulfil Millar’s idea of the classic, tailored look. The bottom half, by contrast, is much more neat-fitting to maintain aerodynamics and prevent unnecessary flapping.

‘At the bottom half it has got the cut of the Castelli Aero Race jersey,’ says Millar, ‘so it’s got that mix of old and new.’

The main body of the jersey is a soft, stretchy polyester material, which, along with the classic cut, is very comfortable to wear. It’s not the lightest jersey, so perhaps not one for the very hottest of days, but it makes an excellent compromise between casual ride wear and sporty performance wear.

The zip is robust and the stitching is sturdy, as are the collar and waistband. It adds up to high quality garment that should be going strong when your super-lightweight race jerseys have fallen to bits.

It’s a similar story with the bibs, which feel well constructed, with a substantial gripper section at the legs, cooling mesh straps, and Castelli’s top end Progetto X2 Air seat pad.

If there’s one gripe, it’s that Chpt3 has opted for a numbered sizing system, no doubt to emphasise the ‘tailored’ quality of the apparel. In a world where everything is small, medium or large, the Chpt3 jersey is 36-44.

For some it may offer a more exact means of getting the correct size, but for many of us it is just a bit confusing.

The colour scheme of the MonzaMilano kit won’t be to everyone’s taste either, but the muted grey-green is certainly stylish, and offers a point of difference to nearly every other cycle clothing brand out there.

Cyclist talked to Millar on the day before the – potentially decisive – Stage 16 time-trial of the 2018 Giro d’Italia. So who does he think will win?

‘Put Tom Dumoulin down for the time-trial win, but the question is how much time can he take out of Simon Yates. The way Yates is going, he could do something really quite remarkable.

‘We haven’t seen anyone dominate a Giro like this for a very long time. I think Yates will go all the way. I hope so.

Check out the Chpt3 range at Castelli Cafe here

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