Our winners from the Club of The Year competition to travel to Bergamo, were Claire & Greg Jessop who had a full itinerary of events from start to finish! Read on to se what they got up to…
‘After an early morning start from Manchester airport we were on our way to Bergamo. We landed according to the time schedule however Italian customs were a little slow and we finally made it through 45 minutes later, only to have to wait for our 2 cycling weekly colleagues to join us. Once we were all there Claudio from Santini picked us up and we checked into our hotel. We were then treated to a typical Italian lunch, primi and secondi plate plus wine, before our tour of the factory.
Paolo Santini, Marketing Director, took us on the tour starting in their showroom where they keep all their latest kit, including the Trek pro team kit, the new UCI Yorkshire World Championship kit and we got a sneak preview of their 2020 range!
From here we were then taken through the kit manufacturing process from design with the club through to when the kit is ready for despatch. We were surprised to find that each design proof, of which there are 2, are sent to the club for approval prior to it being printed up. Following approval the number of items that need to be produced are printed on special paper (in preparation for it to be printed onto the cloth). Each part of the kit is then cut out to size via a precise machine and then placed on the special paper. This is then passed through a heat machine that prints the kit. The kit is then sent to be stitched by hand. Each part of the kit is stitched using special purpose machines, for example the zipper is put on as one process on a machine designed only for zips. Finally once the piece of kit is finished it goes to the QA department to be validated and tagged before it’s bagged and sent to despatch.
Over 3000 items are produced each day in the factory and all of the materials are sourced locally, within 100kms of Bergamo, as there are many specialist material providers in the local area.
After the tour we had a little spare time to relax before we met Stephano for dinner in the Upper town of Bergamo (the old town). This part of Bergamo was really beautiful, with city walls which were built by the Venetians, high up on a hill. To get into the old town you have to go through sets of large stone arches onto cobbles, up through very tiny small roads, roads that were recently used on a stage of the Giro 2019. Fergus, their head designer, joined us and we had dinner (this time antipasta and secondi plate) in the highest restaurant in Bergamo where we were treated to spectacular views and an atmospheric lightening storm.
The storm did not bode well as we were due to ride in the hills around Bergamo with Alessandro Vanotti, an ex professional rider who rode for Astana and helped Nibali win the 2014 Tour de France. The following morning we looked out the window with a little trepidation as the forecast had predicted more storms; the sky did look a little overcast but it very warm, 26 degrees. After fuelling up with breakfast we checked out of the hotel and met up at the Santini factory to prepare our bikes and meet Alessandro.
At 10.30am we all met up and set off towards the hills, one of the cycling weekly members, James, rode with us, whilst his colleague sat on the back of Marco’s Vespa taking pictures of us as we rode along, it felt as if we were riding a stage of the tour with our supported Vespa rider!
We then rode through the village that Alessandro lives in and stopped for coffee after about an hour at a beautiful little church just before the start of the climb. We then climbed for about 7 kms to our lunch stop, yes you’ve guessed it for another typical Italian lunch, this time anti pasta, risotto and tiramisu with wine!
It was a lovely peaceful setting, an Agriturismo where they offer horse rides and various activities for young people, with stunning views of the surrounding hills. During lunch Alessandro told us of his fond memories of riding in Yorkshire during the tour with a big smile on his face and how he now runs a cycle tour business with Marco in Italy.
Following lunch we descended back down to the Santini factory to finish our ride, thankfully the storms stayed away and we enjoyed a sunny Italian day. We then refreshed ourselves back at the factory where we presented the Santini team with Otley CC bidons as a thank you. We were taken back to Bergamo airport and arrived home very late, very tired but had a fantastic time representing Otley CC. The details of this trip should appear in Cycling Weekly in July.‘