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18th Oct 2019

Cycling wear mogul Simon Mottram on custom-making Chris Froome’s Tour De France gear

Wil Jones

Brought to you by Open Money

“My favourite moment was in 2013, standing on Mont Ventoux, and around the corner in the yellow jersey, is Chris Froome”

Cycling wear mogul Simon Mottram talks about the challenges of partnering with Team Sky as they dominated the Tour de France, on the latest episode of Pioneers with John Amaechi. 

Mottram worked for 20 years in branding, working with big names like Chanel and Aston Martin, before founding the cycling clothing and accessories brand Rapha in 2004 – which was sold to members of the Walton family, owners of Walmart, for £200 million last summer. 

Rapha began making clothing for Team Sky in 2013, an association that lasted until the 2016 season. 

Cycling is still small enough that you can find a way in,” Mottram told Amaechi about how the partnership came about. I think it would be quite hard to work with a Formula 1 team or Real Madrid if you are just early in your days. 

Rapha provided 780 items to each rider, and when questioned about why so much kit was needed, Mottram agrees it was slightly excessive. “’Need’ is the wrong word,” he explains. “Each rider was given 780 pieces of equipment, all custom made, custom-fitted. It could have been off the shelf, but we decided that, if this is the sport you love most in the world, and you’re going to work with the best team, and you are all in, why not the make the socks custom?” 

“For us to have created so much risk by customising everything, was probably foolish, but it was a great ride and we learned a hell of a lot.” 

This dedication to detail paid off though when it came to kitting out Chris Froome, who was allergic to the Silicon in the grippers they used. “So we used a different non-silicon gripper. As we were customising everything, we could do whatever Chris wanted. [Team Sky] are looking for marginal gains, so if you’re getting a rash or a discomfort, you’re going to address it.” 

And how does it feel to see Chris Froome win the Tour De France wearing your kit? “Pretty amazing. My favourite moment of the journey so far was 2013, standing on Mont Ventoux, with about a hundred customers, friends and colleagues at our mobile clubhouse waiting for the tour to come. And around the corner in the yellow jersey, the rest of his kit is Rapha, is Chris Froome. Wow.” 

Catch the full episode now on YouTube and on your podcast provider.