Backed by the world's most prestigious brands and athletes, the Rouleur Classic created the perfect environment to show off Castelli and Sidi at their best
Billed as the world's finest road cycling exhibition, the inaugural edition of the Rouleur Classic took place in mid-November within the elegant surroundings of Vinopolis, just off the glittering Thames in Southwark.
The venue's clean white walls are contrasted by tall, bare brick arched ceilings and buffed, spot-lit concrete floors, creating a suitably sophisticated atmosphere in which to exhibit the world's best cycling brands. The art-gallery ambiance was amplified by a scattering of retro jerseys and vintage bikes, French and English Tour commentary giving a goose-bump inducing aural backdrop to the proceedings.
This professional feel was further highlighted by an exclusive guest list – including Eddy Merckx, Alberto Contador, Fabian Cancellara, Lizzie Armitstead, Ernesto Colnago, Mario Cipollini, David Millar and Alex Dowsett – who were all interviewed in the intimate Rouleur Classic Theatre. Meanwhile, the exclusivity of tickets and freely flowing champagne maintained the high-class dinner party mood until the late-night finishes on Thursday and Friday evening.
All this provided a unique podium upon which Saddleback could present our Italian heritage brands – Castelli and Sidi – to engaged customers keen to add to their cycling wardrobes.
Our chosen position had each stand facing the other, opposite the swanky Maserati lounge and in close proximity to one of the free bars and the entrance to the Rouleur Classic Theatre. This prime location gave our area of the show a unique feel, our brands highlighted and distanced slightly from those placed side by side elsewhere. The location also offered up a steady flow of foot traffic, which invariably became a gathered throng as the evenings progressed.
The show was the first opportunity for Saddleback to show off Sidi to the cycling public and the reception was gratifyingly warm. Our display of shoes belonging to Chris Froome, Nino Schurter and Tony Martin were cooed over by everyone who passed. Even more show goers were admiring the Sidi collection on the stand, with many commenting on the longevity, quality and value for money a Sidi purchase represents. Others still were impressed by our commitment to increase the brand's profile in the UK and bring in a larger range, and in more sizes, than previously available.
Visitors to the Castelli stand seemed to be drawn inexorably to the Chpt.III collection, with both David Millar and designer Richard Pearce on hand to sing the praises of the sartorially inspired range. Elsewhere on the Castelli front, the evergreen Gabba showed its continued relevance with plenty stopping by purely to tell us what a difference it's made to their riding experience.
Another favourite was the dual-layered Alpha Jacket, while the Perfetto Light was also a standout. Developed with pros, this new jersey for 2016 utilises a lightweight version of Gabba's material at the front, partnered with water-resistant, yet breathable, Nanoflex at the back to give another option for racers as the Classics season winds down.
Finally, the brand new Linea Pelle chamois cream, warming skin cream and foul weather barrier cream had their first public outing – and proved to be hugely popular, with sample sachets sliding out of sight alarmingly fast.
The two matinee and two evening 'stages' were a huge success for us, our prestigious brands fitting perfectly into the Rouleur Classic's elite ethos. With a new venue promised for the next edition, it appears the world's finest road cycling exhibition will only grow in status during 2016.