A jersey is frequently worn for more meaningful purpose than simply keeping out the elements.
Often, it’s a statement of some personal intent, or allegiance to a cause greater than that represented by the single rider wearing it: loyalty to a team, a nation, or, in the case of the increasingly popular trend for retro jerseys, an era.
Simon Mottram is a man with a cause, and, as the founder and CEO of clothing brand, Rapha, well placed to create a jersey (and gilet) to champion it. Oscar, Mottram’s eldest son, is autistic, and his father will be tackling the route of the legendary Bordeaux-Paris classic to raise funds for Ambitious about Autism.
He will not be alone. Mottram’s ambition for the charity seemingly matches its title. His will be one of 25 teams bidding to raise a combined £250,000 by following the grueling 600km parcours from south-west France to the capital, via Angoulème, Chatellerault, and Orleans. Entry costs a cool £3,900 per team, or £975 per person, each of whom must raise £2,500 for the charity.
This year offers two additional reasons to tackle the ride. 2013 represents 25 years since this so-called ‘lost Classic’ was last raced, and 50 years since it was won by Tom Simpson. The ‘Derby of the Road’ was raced through night and day, an ordeal for the riders, and one by which a career might be defined: the winners list is littered with multiple victors, topped by the Belgian, Herman Van Springel, who won seven times between 1970 and 1981.
Simpson’s victory was one of two recorded by British riders. The first came in the inaugural edition, won by George Pilkington-Mills in a style that astonished the organisers, who hadn’t countenanced the possibility that riders might complete the route in a single ride.
Pilkington-Mills had set the tone for the race, and while future editions involved varying methods of motor pacing, behind motorbikes, Dernys, and even cars, the ethos of a single day’s racing, despite the arduous distance, remained.
Riders considering joining Mottram’s fund-raising ride must also complete the distance within 24-hours, but the challenge will be less onerous. Riding duties will be shared out between teams of four, whose members will ride in relay, and each of whom must complete a minimum of four segments. Teams will be free to define their own tactics within this stipulation.
And the jersey? Sold out already in all sizes except small and extra small, so if you’re of a build to rival Contador and Rodriguez, your luck is in.
There is another way to get your hands on the garment, and its accompanying gilet – both are complimentary with entry to the ride, which will take place from September 12 to 15, 2013. Places are still available.
To register for the Rapha Bordeaux-Paris 2013 Challenge, click here.